Arguments FOR the German mining industry !

From some of the discussions in which I took part, I collected the following arguments sometimes used as arguments "contra mining". I want to refute these arguments here or put more emphasis on those supporting the mining industry. Just click on the corresponding buzz words, in order to get back to the menu click on the word "Top..." between the different sections.

All diagrams used to show the facts presented on these pages more clearly are taken from the German hard coal mining umbrella organization's annual reports of the years 2002 and 2004. You can find it on the web at

Clean Coal - the high technology use of hard coal
Does liquefaction of coal make sense in Germany ?
Safety of Embankments
A shutdown of the German collieries is ecologically sound
Why spending lots of money short before the end ?
Mining needs large sums of taxes
It is better to pay 100.000 Euros to each miner
Mining does not take part in structural change
Mining helps to destroy the environment
The transportation of imported coal destorys the environment
Subsidences resulting from mining.
The energy can be imported from other safe countries klick
There is enough hard coal in Germany
Enormous increase in demand because of LDCs and LLDCs
Hard coal is not necessary for energy supply
Alternative energy sources can substitute hard coal
Wealth is brought to other countries by mining
In some regions children have to work as miners
Hard coal from other countries is cheaper !
Cheap coal from other countries - is she really cheap ?
Topic: German safety standards
Working in coal mines endangers lifes
Technological competitiveness means exports
The coal mines can be reactivated in several years
Topic: Collieries offer apprenticeships to young people
"The required embankments are not safe enough !"

I frequently heard this argument during discussions about mining in the Lower Rhine region, where people are very worried about this fact. This following can be said here: There is no doubt that new embankments will have to be built during the continuation of the coal production in the corresponding collieries, for that the safety of the people living in these areas can be guaranteed. There is no doubt, as well, that it is strongly exaggerated to talk about more than 100.000 people being strongly endangered by a heavy flood resulting from a collapse of the embankments.

 This can be said as an answer: The embankments built during these measures are constructed following the latest and by this most modern guidelines and techniques. Today's entire know-how is used for building these embankments and all future subsidences are considered concerning the height, strength etc. of the embankments. It might be true that 100.000 people are living in these areas and all of us can understand their worries about their property, but there is no reason for panic. Just look at the following facts: The entire Ruhr area has descended about 30 metres because of mining in earlier times and there are several rivers and channels in this district. There has not been a heavy flood, yet - the old part of Cologn, however, has been flooded several times without mining underneath. Even if the discussion is very emotional - this has to be taken into account, as well !

"A shutdown of the German collieries is ecologically sound !"

The opinion that a shutdown of the German collieries was an environment-friendly act can frequently be heard, but nevertheless it is not correct. The problem is that an industrialized nation like Germany needs quite a lot of energy that has to be available at any time. Additionally it is fact that a large share of the German energy is generated by using hard coal and that the reserves of the hard coal will last for several centuries so that the problem cannot easily be solved by just changing to another resource.

Because of that the hard coal would have to be imported from other countries where it is mostly produced under environmental conditions that are worse than in Germany. As a result there are negative consequences in at least two different ways: At first the pollution is much stronger because of the less environment-friendly methods of production in the other countries. Additionally there are even more negative consequences because of the transportation to Germany and the higher emissions resulting from that.

As a summary it can be said that a shutdown of the German collieries would just "transport" the problems into different other parts of the world, but it cannot be a solution and so it cannot be called ecologically sound.

"Why spending lots of money short before the end ?"

The only thing I want to say about this is: It is the task of all institutions involved including the government to find a solution so that mining in Germany will not be finshed, but that an active and vivid hard coal mining industry will be perpetuated. Pro-Bergbau supports a socket of energy with sufficent space for hard coal, the German government can decide independently about without needing a permission from the European Union. When realizing this, German mining is able to plan for a long time.

This is very important, because mining is not a short term business. Long term plans determin decisions, so that it has to be decided now about what is going to happen for a long time. Especially the arguments presented on these pages have the intention to show you how necessary a vivid German hard coal mining industry is for a safe future of our country.

"Mining need large sums of taxes !"

At first sight this seems to be correct, but it becomes untrue if you take a closer look at the facts:

Yes it is true - the German hard coal mining industry receives large sums of subsidies. But this may not be seen in an isolated way. First the mining company does not save the money, but spends it again: It is spent as salaries (the miners pay income taxes etc.), materials, goods, machines etc. are bought (the supplying companies have to pay taxes, as well) and the mining company has to pay for its workers' social security. Additionally a crowd of miners being out of work would cause much higher expenditures and there would not be the positive effects like income, revenue etc. taxes paid by the workers and the firms.

In addition to what is written in the previous paragraph it has to be pointed out very clearly that the German hard coal mining industry has the first place concerning the reduction of subsidies. The amount of subsidies granted to the mining industry will have been reduced from approx. 5 billion to nearly 2 billion between 1996 and 2005 - this is more than the half. If all other industrial sectors had acted in the same way, the financial situation in Germany was much better now. In total about 150 bln. Euros are payed as subsidies etc. in Germany per year - if all sectors had reduced the amount received as the hard coal mining industry did, the German government could save 75 bln Euros (!). In order to show this more clearly you can take a look at the following diagram - please click here.

It should be taken into account, as well, that it is very easy to criticize the subsidies for the German hard coal mining industry. But these sums only make up a very small share of all subsidies paid - less than two percent (!), so that the reduction has small positive effects, but concerning the lack of an own source of energy a strong disadvantage is connected with that. Please click here for the corresponding diagram.

"It is better to pay 100.000 Euros to each miner !"

It is very common in Germany to propose that the collieries should be closed and that the miners should be paid the money that is saved because of the fact that no more subsidies have to be paid to the German hard coal mining industry. If you divide the subsidies paid by the number of miners you get the sum of 100.000 Euros per miner and year that is mentionned in the title.

But this argument really does not make sense: At first the safe supply with domestic hard coal was given up. Additionally I am sure that some of the miners would not stay in Germany if they would get 100.000 Euros as pension and prefer moving to a warmer country with more sunshine, so that Germany would have to pay the money but those who receive the payments do not spend it here. If you compare this to the situation of today it is much worse, because today nearly all of the money paid as subsidies is spent here in Germany by the German hard coal mining company, by the miners, by the supplying firms or their employees.

"Mining does not take part in structural change !"

During the discussions I recently took part in I often heard the accusation that mining is an industry that does not participate in the structural change in the Ruhr area. In contrary: The mining company is said to receive subsidies without making efforts for it.

This is totally wrong, because the mining company IS very active concerning the support of the structural change in the regions at the rivers of Ruhr and Saar. The first fact is that in no other industrial sector the number of workers has been reduced more in the last years - a diagram can show this much better, so click here, please ! The measures were fixed in the hard coal compromise of 1997. The German mining company does not only offer different retraining courses to the employees, but organizes different other facilities for miners to find new jobs and potential new employers. In order to point out the meaning of what was planned in the 1997 treaty you can find another diagram - please click here !

The same things as for the number of employees can be said for the amount of coal produced. In 1996 in the German hard coal mining industry more than 50 million tons of coal have been produced. During the negotiations in early 1997 for the year 2005 an amount of less than 25 million tons has been fixed - this means a reduction of more than the half of the 1996 production. To show this more clearly please click here for a diagram.

Further aspects of an active participation in structural change are the active management and the active marketing that are done in order to find new possibilities of use for the former cillieries' areas. The pieces of ground are cleaned and prepared for being used by enterprises of other sectors, slagheaps are planted with trees, bushes, little ponds are created and by that the artificially built montains are able to fulfill recreational tasks. Additionally other old (or not) buildings like shaft towers are integrated in new settlement areas.

There is no doubt that these activities are very necessary. But even if this is fact, the true target of Pro-Bergbau may not be forgotten: We are working about the support of the German hard coal mining industry, SO: Send me e-mails, please !

"Mining helps to destroy the environment !"

Often the argument of pollution, destruction etc. of the environment is used - but this is not correct.

One thing has to be seen very clearly: Mining is an industry and industrialized action cannot be done without different influences on the surroundings or the environment. But: All measures and precautions are taken in order to avoid such negative influences on the humans, their houses, nature etc.: Coal production in large areas avoids damages because of subsidences, environment-friendly materials and a recycling system even underground avoid pollution, water is cleaned and reused, sometimes coal is transported underground and conveyors are wrapped so that coal dust does not disturb the residents, new collieries are planned in such a way that most of the former plants can be used and that only shafts for the hoisting of staff and material have to be built in order to reduce the needs of ground on the surface to a minimum. The waste material that has been brought to the surface with the raw coal is used for building small mountains formed like natural landscapes so that different species of plants and animals can find a new habitat there. Even the residents benefit  from that: These mountains have become parts of the so called "green lungs" in the Ruhr area and by that they are popular greenbelt recreation areas. Additionally some of the subsidences caused by former coal production have become small lakes, where different animals like birds, fishes etc. and plants have found their habitat.

In contrary to that the situation in other countries can be seen: Nothing happens after that the coal production has finished, coal dust blown away by the wind makes wide areas grey or black and kills those plants and animals that have not died because of environmentally hazardous chemicals, yet. Compared by a few words: In Germany new habitat is created and in other parts of the world entire regions are destroyed for generations.

We need the resources so that they will be extracted in any way. This fact and the effects of environmental exploitation in other countries on our climate make it comprehensible that mining with strict guidelines concerning environmental protection etc. has advantages for our surrounding's quality.

"A long transportation of the coal pollutes the environment !"

Based on the previous argument there is another very interesting aspect concerning the transportation of the coal that I want to present you in this paragraph: In a report that was published in the German newspaper "Die Zeit" (edition 35/2006 from August 24th in 2006) it was described that the ships transporting the hard coal and other goods over the seas use a very special fuel, the so called bunker c-oil, that means the remnants from the refineries. The disadvantage of that oil is the fact that it causes a lot of sulphur emissions while it is used for driving the ships' engines and because of that it pollutes the environment in a very extreme way. Please click here to read the entire report. (The text is in German).

In front of this background the argument that a shutdown of the German collieries has positive effects on the environment seems to be even more hollow than in front of what is written in the previous paragraph. A change could only be caused by reducing the use of hard coal for the generation of energy. But this argument is not even mentionned by those who want to finish the German hard coal mining industry - they obviously prefer coal that is imported from other countries without concerning the corresponding consequences.

"Subsidences cause heavy damages !"

This is one of the prejudices about mining that have been there since raw materials are extracted from underground. It was wrong to say that mining has no effects on the surface. But: The damages the people are afraid of do not appear in the whole area where the coal has been extracted underneath, but only on the edges. You have to imagine this: Underground the coal is extracted from a large area that is settling down again after the process of extraction. Anywhere the extent of the coal seam is nearly the same and because of that the subsidences in this area are similar, as well. As an effect, the surface will be lowered a few centimeters, but it stays parallel to its position before the lowering. Only on the edges of this area distorsions take place, i.e. not the whole surface is lowered but only the part coal has been etracted underneath. The places where this will happen can be planned very well today so that the coal production can take place where no or nearly no damage will be done to buildings etc. on the surface.
"The energy can be imported from other countries !"

Often an argument can be heard saying: "Why shall we use our own source of energy if we can import enough ressorces from other safe countries with no danger that they stop supplying us ?" Is this true ?

The answer mus be "NO !". The following explanations make it clear for you:

Lots of the oil and gas we use to make our machines work, heat our houses etc. is imported from politically instable regions like countries of the former USSR and some Arabian countries. If you look at today's situation you can see clearly how "stable" it really is: The countries where oil can be produced are united in the OPEC - the association adjusting the amounts of oil produced just as it is needed to get the prices they want to get. That means in the case of a crises, just when energy is needed very urgently, these countries will supply themselves first and of the rest they will sell just enough to make huge profits, because the oil producing countries know very well how much other industrialized countries depend on their oil supply if they do not have other sources of energy. German hard coal does not only make sure the energy supply but strengthens our position during negotiations and by this it helps to drop prices. The differences between the amounts of recoverable energy reserves in Germany can show you this diagram - please click here to take a look at it.

Another example are the United States. Normally they are thought to be a safe supplier. But how is today's situation ? In order to cover their own needs of energy, they have to buy it from nearly all over the world. In a crises or a situation when resources are limited they would surely act in a much more aggressive way. This shall show you that even countries that are thought to be safe are not really safe and that an own source of energy is very important. These problems will be strengthened by the future development of energy required to supply the world's needs. The needs of all countries (industrialized and developing) will grow more and more in the future and by that cause more and more questions about how safe countries are as suppliers with energy resources. You can take a closer look at the predicted world energy needs in a diagram - please click here !

The problems I mentionned before will get stronger in the future. Therefore you have to take a look at the predicted development of the percentage of the entire coal production that is traded: Today about 17 % of the world's coal production can be bought at the international coal markets - but, in 2025 only 10 % of the entire coal production will be available there. That means that the percentage will halve in the next 20 years. I wanted to mention these facts in order to demonstrate you that the fairy tale of safe energy supplyers from abroad is wrong. In order to show you the relations I can present you another diagram - please click here.

It is very important to mention the 2003 energy blackouts all over the world in this context. In Germany such a dramatic blackout is very unlikely, as most of the experts say. That results from the fact that - in contrary to Italy, for example - most of the energy required is produced in domestic power plants. The close connections between the different energy suppliers and regions in Germany support the positive effects of domestic energy supply. One thing has to be taken into account, as well: The German power plants need resources to produce the electricity etc. - and that underlines the importance of the German hard coal mining industry.

"There is enough hard coal in Germany !"

In relation to what is written in the previous argument it has to be said that this title is totally correct. That is the reason why the German hard coal mining company named the information campaign "German hard coal - 400 years from today". You just have to imagine the positive effects of a resource lasting for at least 400 years: Safe energy supply, the possibility of technological developments for the use of hard coal and for other areas, employment for the miners, plans can be made for a long time in the future etc. - all these points are made possible by the German hard coal mining industry.

The aspects mentionned before are not just important for the inhabitants of the country that owns the energy resource. These points can cause comparative advantages for the country's entire economy, because investors from abroad are attracted by the positive aspects and companies might settle down in a country with such a lot of advantages. This is another example for that lots of jobs are depending on a vivid German hard coal mining industry - and not just those of the miners !

"Enormous increase in demand because of the LDCs and LLDCs"

It is very calming to see the previous argument when looking at the last months' development on the world market that will probably continue in the future, as well: Actually there is only one of the less developed countries (LDCs) and of the least developed countries (LLDCs) causing an enormous raise in demand: China. This single country has caused that the price for coking coal climbed up to five times the price of half a year before and that it finally stabilized at about 200 Euros per ton (the German production costs, by the way).

In order to point out what I said before and to show you the background, I want to present you a very interesting calculation: Today there are about seven billion humans living on the earth, up to two billions of them live in the industrialized countries. As a consequence there are five billion inhabitants left for the LDCs and the LLDCs. In the last year China - a country with a population of about one billion people - has started to grow economically in order to raise the population's living standards. The consequence is an explosion of the prices in the coal, the steel and in other sectors - sometimes you even hear that the resources became scarce, yet. I intentionally finish at this point and do nothing else but ask only one question: What will happen if the other four billion (!) inhabitants of the LDCs and the LLDCs start trying to reach a certain wealth ?!

"Hard coal is not necessary for energy supply !"

Many people say that hard coal is not necessary for energy supply. This is nothing but wrong.

In approximately 30 to 40 years nearly all of today's main resources like oil, gas etc. will be used up. The hard coal reserves will last much longer, up to some centuries. Just imagine that there are hard coal resources in the Ruhr area of about 6 bln. tons; if the smaller coal seams are added there are reserves of nearly 16 (!) bln. tons of high quality hard coal. The importance of the German hard coal is emphasized by the title of the German hard coal mining company's information campaign: "German hard coal - 400 years  from today !" The background is that within 400 years we have the possibilty to discover and to develop energy sources for the later future.

Only the long term keeping upright of a fast and sufficient access can make these reserves usable for us in the future. Concerning the aspect of safety for the future this is an argument for mining, as well. It disproves the fact that mining with just a few collieries as centers for technical development and only a very small coal production is enough. After closing a colliery water, methane gas etc. will pour into the roadways and make it impossible to access the coal seams and to produce coal.

What was said before becomes clearer when looking at the following facts: Coal - as the resorce with the largest reserves - has in relation been used much less than for example the crude oil, the reserves of which are much smaller. If there is no change to using more coal, for example, the oil reserves will be used up quite fast, causing heavy problems in the future. That is one of the reasons why giving up mining in Germany does not make sense. To take a closer look at these facts, there is another diagram - please click here.

"Alternative energy sources substitute hard coal !"

It can be heard quite frequently that hard coal was replaceable by the so called alternative or regenerative energy souces, that are very "in fashion" at the moment. Unluckily, for different reasons this is not true.

The first reason is the lack of economic efficiency these machines work with, because their level of utilization of the resources is too low. In comparison to the actual energy sources much more of the valuable resources have to be used and different other measures have to be taken in order to have an at least nearly comparable amount of energy in the end.

The second argument can be seen as a direct consequence of the first one: Are the measures mentionned before realizable concerning policy, the population, the residents etc. ? It has to be seen very clearly that the sun is shining much less in Germany than in the deserts of America or the South of Spain. In order to compensate this a lot of huge parcs with solar collector panels will have to be built.

Another example are the wind farms: Many opponents of mining prefer energy of wind and sun, because this is thought to be more environment-friendly. The same question again: How many wind farms will have to be built in order to cover our needs ? I just want to mention the so called "disco-effect". This is the effect many residents of wind farms are suffering now. If the sun beams shine through the rotor of such a modern windmill and hit, for example, some houses, they are interrupted several times per second, depending on the strength of the wind. For the inhabitants of these areas there is a permanent "light-on-light-off-effect" with negative consequences for their health, comparable to a torture in mediaeval times.

If we want to cover our needs of energy the required distances to the residential areas can not be kept upright in the long run, so that this "disco-effect" would lead to resistance against the wind farms. Also the other alternative - off-shore wind farms - have negative consequences on the nesting of birds in this region and on the birds of passage because the windmills are on their routes. More resistance comes from the tourism organizations because of the landscape's deterioration resulting from the windmills, which are sometimes also called "asparagus". The consequence is that aspects like tourism etc. reduce the number of good places with heavy winds for these machines - for example the highlands' mountain crests - more and more, also reducing the windmills' economic efficiency and thus profitability more and more, as well.

As a result of these facts there are argumentations that can only hardly be understood. The following concept was presented: If the number of pylons is reduced and the rest of them changed to windmills, the deterioration of the landscape will strongly be reduced. But how can this be possible ? First of all not all places of pylons can be used because sometimes there is not enough wind and second the energy produced on the mountain crests has to be transported into the big cities in order to be consumed. That is why these wind farms cannot be placed in the middle of the Ruhr area, for example. So additionally (!) some lines for the transport of the energy will have to be built. Unluckily I could not discover an advantage of the solution, yet.

The arguments can be used concerning most kinds of regenerative energies, in order to make it shorter, I do not mention all of them here. If you want to discuss with me you are invited to send me an e-mail.

"Wealth is brought to other countries by mining !"

This is one of the arguments having shocked me very much, because it shows a regrettable lack of knowledge and it demonstrates an attempt to justify the own action on cost of others.

Because you can hardly believe I just want to mention the argument again: I heard the opinion that mining created wealth in certain other countries. But the truth is: The miners in different other countries work under worst conditions, they get very small wages and hardly own more than the clothing they wear. Maybe the situation is not this dramatical in the other European countries like those of the former Eastern bloc, but therefore the working conditions are fairly poor, the safety regulations low and the number of casualties caused by accidents, a lack of precaution, a lack of protection, a lack of supervision e.g. of the methane concentration in the air very high. No doubt, the miners earn at least a bit - but it is nearly a shame to call this a kind of wealth and to use this as an argument against the German hard coal mining industry. Additionally the long term environmental devastation has to be taken into account, making life hard in these areas for several generations in the future.

At the end one of the sentences having caused most of my anger about this argument. I want to present it to you and I do not want to comment on it: "There can be no wealth in one part of the world without poverty in another part of it !" (Please remark that I did not use the same words, but the sense is still the same ! DS).

"In some regions children have to work as miners !"

Unfortunately this is the truth. Especially in countries with very low economic standards coal is produced by children, because in the first place they are cheaper workers and they can work in smaller tunnels for a longer time meaning more profit for the collieries' owners, more dangers for the children and because of the low standards a high rate of mortality among the workers.

As an argument it was said that only because of the children's work many families have something to eat. This is the truth, as well, so changes in the basic structures will have to take place in order to give the children a chance for an adequate apprenticeship they can benefit from in their further life. This would really lead to an improvement concerning their standards of living and would enable them to live wealthy in the future. This is a task for the richer countries.

A good example is the RUGMARK-seal, used to mark carpets not being produced by children. But: Where is the positive effect of such kind of a carpet if there is an underfloor heating underneath that is theoretically heated with coal produced by working children ?

The fact that I mention this topic is nothing but a reaction on the discussion I took part in. I do not want to allege that anyone uses this kind of coal in order to heat his house etc.. This is just an example for that imported coal cannot replace German coal, also concerning social aspects.

"Hard coal from other countries is cheaper !"

This argument is used very often for giving a reason to stop the German hard coal mining because of a lack of efficiency. But this has to be commented on.

In the first place very often "apples are compared to pears" (this is a German sentence, does anyone of you know a similar one in English ?). Often the sentence can be heard "why shall we go on with German mining - we have the possibility to buy coal for 50 in Rotterdam free port instead of producing it for 200 in Germany". This is just wrong. There is no doubt that coal can be bought in Rotterdam for this price, but this is a different kind of coal that is not comparable to the one produced in Germany and it is of lower quality. The coal of some German collieries has a nearly unique quality and is sold for prices close to the costs of production. At this point we should take a closer look at the development of the general world market prices for hard coal. After having nearly "exploded" up to 500 Euros the price for one ton of coking coal actually settled at 250 Euros per ton, which is still the 2.5 times value of 2002. It is very intersting to see that because of this development the world market price is the same as or even HIGHER than the German costs of production. As a result, the idea of trying of reaching new coal seams in order to exploit them, is not wrong at all. The changes I mentionned before are not just related to coking coal. Even the price for one ton of coal that can be used in power plants in order to generate energy nearly doubled from 2003 to 2004. The economical disadvantages and risks resulting from that and effecting German companies are important arguments supporting the German hard coal mining industry.

Second the requirements concerning the safety regulations in Germany have to be taken into account, as well. The standards are extremely high, there are many regulations that have to be considered  - everything is done for the miners' wealth, health and safety and for the protection of residents etc.. In other countries there are no such regulations, meaning low safety, lots of casualties every year, firedamp and coaldust explosions and many other things that can be read about in the newspapers. Additionally in these regions mining goes on without preparations for the future, that means that new areas in the coal seams are prepared very quickly and cheap, but they do not think about how it is going to be later when there is no more coal in these areas. The chance of a future coal production costs money, but it is not avoidable if we want to be prepared for the future. The consequence will be that in the countries mentionned before sooner or later no more coal will be produced, but in contrary to that we will have the required access to our resources.

In the third place it has to be seen very clearly that one part of the price consists of the fact that the access to an energy resource is kept upright and that we are willing to pay for this preparation for the future today. By this we work for future generations and their access to the domestic energy reserves may not be interrupted by a rash stop of the German hard coal mining. Even if I mentionned this yet, it is not sufficient to keep upright the production in two or three collieries, because by that an adequate access to the German coal reserves is not guaranteed .

"Collieries offer apprenticeships!"

Often I heard the accusation that the German mining company only offers apprenticeships to young people in order to have an argument for going on with the mining.

This is totally wrong - those critisizing the mining company should ask themselves for the positive effects of a large number of apprentices. The advantages are very clear: In the first place young people do not get unemployed after school but learn things they can use in their further lifes and earn money with in order to have enough food etc. for their future families. In the second place there is a great demand in other industrial sectors for the abilities acquired during the apprenticeship in the collieries because the appenticeship is of a high quality and well regarded. Especially in regions like the Ruhr or the Saar area where a painful structural change takes place, it is very important for young people to have a certain basis like a good apprenticeship.

"Topic: German safety standards !"

This is an argument containing some of those mentionned before, so that it is more or less a summary. In the German mining industry there are the hardest safety standards, concerning the miners' safety as well as the production technology used.

Everything that can be thought about is done so that nobody will have to take serious damages. Underground the concentration of methane gas gets controlled all over the time and if necessary the production is interrupted. The amount of coal dust is watched, as well, so that there is no danger of an explosion, boxes with water are hung up in the roadways so that a theoretically developping jet of flame will be extinguished immediately, all switches and other electrical machines are constructed in such a way that sparks cannot cause explosions. It gets very clear that the standards in Germany are very high. But it has to be seen that this is not free of charge. It has to be asked what is more important - money or a human life. Honestly, I think that this question is just a rhetorical one.

On the surface everything is done so that the residents do not feel, see etc. more than necessary and do not get any damages, as well. A small part of all this I have been describing before, yet. Additionally the population is involved during the plannings in order to find a solution acceptable for both parties, the mining company and the residents. Unfortunately before these events often panic is created among the population, so that finally a rational discussion is impossible.

The situation in other countries is just in contrary to that: Every year up to several thousands of miners are losing their lifes because of the poor working conditions and because of the lack of safety regulations, nothing is done for the environment and the residents close to the collieries. I want to point this out because these standards are quite normal in Germany, but they are not in other regions of the world - and: they cost money. That is why this is one of the reasons for the niveau of the German production costs, but - if you are honestly - none of us all would give these standards up.

"Working in coal mines endangers lifes !"

This is one of the prejudices against mining that does not seem to disappear, as well. During several discussions I heard this aspect different times and sometimes I was worried about the old fashioned image mining has in public. My partners during these discussions told me something about silicosis and lots of casualties....

In contrary to this it is fact that the German mining industry has a low accident rate per one million hours of work and by that it is in the good centrefield of all industrial sectors and has left many sectors behind. Because of severe safety regulations and an optimized "package" of personal safety equipment like helmets, knee protectors and shin guards, CO-filters, dust masks, further safety clothing e.g. for working with acids etc. and many, many more measures the working conditions in the mining industry have changed dramatically in a positive way. I think the miners' wifes and children are very thankful for that.

"Technological competitiveness means exports !"

This is a very important fact. There is worldwide demand for German mining technology, because of its development and its high quality. So German mining suppliers can employ lots of workers because of exports.

A possible argument against that was that German mining can be stopped and that these workers can only be employed in order to produce goods for the export. But these two fields are connected to each other: The demand for German mining technology abroad only results from the fact that the machines etc. have been used and checked in German collieries. The buyers in other countries know about the difficult German deposit situation, as well, and so they can expect that the technique having worked in Germany is up to work in other countries with a less difficult situation, as well. If the German hard coal mining was stopped now, not only the miners would lose their jobs, but also the workers in the mining supplying companies. Additionally it has to be seen that each of the existing large collieries makes a revenue of nearly half a billion Euros per year, so that the enormous economic power gets clearly visible.

It is not enough to go on with two or three collieries for checking the technology, because every colliery has a certain character and by this - in addition to the safe coal supply - a lot of different conditions can be regarded while testing and developping the machines. This rises their value and the demand on the international markets, as well.

"Coal mines can be reactivated !"

I was asked fairly frequently why the coal mines cannot be closed for a while and re-opened when we need the resources.

This possibility was fairly convenient, but unfortunately it is unrealistic. It has to be considered that the coal seams in Germany are lying very deep, mostly about -1.000 metres and deeper. There are high pressures from the overburden. These pressures reduce themselves slowly and continuosly and cause that today's roadways and shafts are closing again in the long term, i.e. roadways etc. left from today will no more be there in some months or years because the soil and rocks are filling the hollow spaces again. Additionally lots of methane and water will be stored in these roadways, making the re-opening not just expensive but dangerous, too, because they can appear unexpectedly and by that endanger humans and machines.

Another aspect is the long time it would take to re-open the collieries, because the shafts and the roadways would have to be rebuilt before the first coal would come to the power plants, steel plants etc..

In front of this background it can be understood that we do not need a reduced mining with two collieries, but a vivid mining in order to have an adequate access to deposits and the resources.