Juncker attends closure of Germany’s last black coal mine

(EurActiv, 21 Dec 2018) Germany will close its last black coal mine on Friday (21 December), a milestone marking the end of a 200-year-old industry that once fuelled the country’s economic growth but lost the battle against cheaper foreign competitors.

The remaining 1,500 workers of the Prosper-Haniel mine in Bottrop will make their final descent into the pit’s belly, greeting each other one more time with the traditional “Glueck auf, Kumpel”, or “Good luck, buddy”.

The miners will end their shift by bringing up the last chunk of “black gold” and handing it to President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in a ceremony also to be attended by European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.

A mining choir will sing the miners’ anthem “Steigerlied” and local churches will hold special services in what promises to be a poignant farewell to a historic era in western Germany’s industrial Ruhr heartland.

The 150-year-old deep-shaft colliery, whose galleries were dug by six generations of miners, will then be sealed up for good.

“There’s a deep sadness now that it’s all going to be over soon,” miner Thomas Echtermeyer, 47, told the Bild newspaper.

Although the closure comes amid a growing environmental outcry against coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, it wasn’t pollution concerns but cheaper imports from abroad that sounded the mine’s death knell.

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EurActiv, 21 Dec 2018: Juncker attends closure of Germany’s last black coal mine