According to Reuters, about 1100 miners refused to leave the underground tunnels of three old coal mines in Romania's mountainous Jiu valley, which are to be closed in stages by 2014.
Under a plan backed by the European Union, Romania last year agreed to close the Petrila, Paroseni and Uricani mines and merge its remaining four viable mines with two coal-fired power producers to create integrated holding Hunedoara.
However, on Friday the federal Economy Ministry said Hunedoara refused to receive hard coal from the three mines at the price agreed with the EU under the mine closure program, angering miners and sparking the protest.
The miners were demanding that the prime minister take action and said they would not leave the mines until the terms of the 2018 closure program are guaranteed, Reuters reported.
Economy Ministry officials were negotiating with the miners on Friday.