Germany Closes Its Last Black Coal Mine, Ending Almost 200 Years Of History

Prosper-Haniel Coal Mine. Image: Hans Engbers Shutterstock

The closure of this mine occurred on December 21, 2018. After two centuries in which the miners have extracted the coal from this mine. With a closing ceremony where the last piece of coal was extracted.

Finally, after two centuries of miners extracting coal from the pits in the Ruhr Valley in Germany.

It powered the foundries that once flourished in this mine. Thanks to coal, Germany has been an industrial power worldwide.

Thanks to this,  today it is the richest country in Europe and the fourth largest economy in the world.

Closing ceremony.

The ceremony consisted of passing a piece of coal the size of a miners’ soccer ball to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. This was the last piece of black coal to be mined from this mine.

The word “Glueck Auf” was also part of this ceremony. Which is a traditional greeting among miners that means “Good Luck”. Words that they used to say every day in the face of the dangers and uncertainties they faced daily.

Steinmeier addressed the audience saying:

“A part of German history is coming to an end here.” “Without him, our entire country and its development in the last 200 years would have been unthinkable.”

Why is the mine closed?

The Prosper-Haniel mine is located in the city of Bottrop. It was part of a network of mines that were responsible for providing coal to the steel mills in the Ruhr Valley and some other industries.

During the 1950s it was a great source of employment. It housed more than half a million people. It currently only employs about two thousand people.

Finally, over time the imported coal became more profitable economically. This led to the closure of one by one of the Ruhr mines.

Starting in 1998, coal mining received 40 million euros of federal funds. In 2007 the government seeing the big money leak and deciding that this could not continue. He ordered the phasing out of Germany’s coal mines.

In order not to leave the miners stranded, they were offered early retirement. They were also given the option of working in other government industries.

However, the city of Bottrop seeks to continue generating income. For this reason, it offers subsidies to companies and workers who want to do business there.

And he has created some attractions like a horror maze with an enchanted coal pit. And a park whose attractions have a film theme.

There are still decades until coal is no longer strong in Germany.

In Germany there are still open cast lignite or brown coal mines. These will finally be closed in the next few years. But the fact that there are no more coal mines in Germany is not an environmental victory.

Even two-fifths of Germany’s energy is obtained by burning coal. This is imported from Russia, the United States and Colombia. Most likely, this coal will continue to reach Germany in the next two decades.

This is how long the government estimates it will take to shut down the last 120 remaining coal-fired power plants.

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