Hambach - lignite mining in NRW

28 images Created 19 Oct 2021

(Deutsche Welle - 2017)

In 1978, excavators started digging for brown coal in the Hambach open surface mine. They dug their way through hundreds of meters of ground, ancient forest, villages and ultimately through thousands of people’s lives. The story takes a look at the impact the brown coal mining has on individuals.

Operating on an area of 85 square kilometers, the size of almost 12.000 soccer fields, the Hambach open surface mine is today considered one of the largest manmade holes in Europe. It is one of four major mining sites in the “Rheinische Braunkohlerevier” (rhenish brown coal basin) which is predominantly operated by RWE Power AG. With millions of cubic meters of excavated brown coal, the mines ensured a steady supply of fossil fuel essential for the country’s reconstruction and booming economy and vital for thousands of employees.

Today, Germany remains the world’s number one producer of brown coal - also known as lignite - where it makes up around a quarter of the country’s power production.

But as climate change became undeniable and catastrophes like Chernobyl and Fukushima fueled the demand for environmentally sustainable energy sources, its persistence is controversial and a contradiction.
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