by Navid Linnemann

The last mine in Germany closes, what does foreign countries do

Schicht im Schacht.1 Glück auf und vorbei.2 The sayings borrowed from the mining industry, which can be heard everywhere these days, often leave a threadbare connotation. Are you making fun of the mates' fate, or is it a serious regret for a sector that has much to thank Germany for? And what about the hard coal abroad?

The dying of the coal mines is not new

The fact that the coal has long since passed its zenith is no new discovery. Renewable energy continues to push the market and make electricity from coal superfluous. But even the term "Zechensterben" 3 is already several decades old. After the Second World War, imported coal and cheaper natural gas and oil continued to displace domestic energy sources.

Zeche Zollverein in Essen

The dying set in and it had to happen. The Ruhr area, which previously attracted the workers like a magnet, was increasingly struggling with unemployment. Where the coal boom through industrialization in the 19th century from small Käffern4 such as Essen (1850 about 8,000, 1900 about 120,000 inhabitants) had created a huge metropolis. Now a few days ago with the closure of the last German mine Prosper-Haniel in Bottrop, a line was drawn under the German hard coal. However, the proverbial hole in which coal mining workers have been falling for some years is far from over.

The lorries are still rolling abroad

Although there are always promises from politicians to make structural change socially just, many miners feel very little about it. Especially for younger and well-qualified miners could therefore be eligible for a career abroad. Because in other countries hard coal will be mined in the future. This does not necessarily mean the mines in China or India, where security is often lacking. Rather, the US, Russia or Spain could be an alternative.

1 Schicht im Schacht means that a situation has ended. Schicht = Shift, Schacht = Shaft
2 Glückauf of Glück Auf of Glück auf is a greeting among miners
3 Zechensterben is a synonym for the "death of mines"
4 Käffer, plural of Kaf, is an informal, denigrating used name for a boring place

Translated from the German original by klimeck consulting.

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