Chancellor Gerhard Schröder told a gathering of coal miners Tuesday that the government planned to pump €16 billion in subsidies into the industry from beginning in 2006. The subsidies will last until 2012, but will decrease steadily each year along with the decrease in coal production. By then, the industry will have cut more than 50 percent of the 45,000 workers, say government officials. Coal industry backers say decreasing subsidies will endanger Germany's plan to phase-out nuclear energy. Less nuclear energy will mean more demand for coal energy. Opponents say Germany will have plenty of opportunity to import coal from cheaper-producing countries within Europe.