Germany closed its last black coal mine on Friday, paying an emotional tribute to a 200-year-old industry that once fuelled the country’s economic growth but lost the battle against cheaper foreign competitors. Around mid-afternoon, a team of dusty miners bring up the last lumps of hard coal mined in the country from the Prosper-Haniel mine in Bottrop, in the heart of Germany’s industrial northwest. It’s a bittersweet farewell for an area already down on its luck.
After the remaining 1,500 workers of the Prosper-Haniel mine in Bottrop clocked off from their final shift, a group of seven workers exited the mine’s elevator carrying the symbolic last chunk of “black gold”. Veteran pitman Juergen Jakubeit, wearing faded overalls and a black-sooted hard hat, then handed the block of coal to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who accepted it with the traditional miners’ greeting of “Glueck auf” or “Good luck”. “A difficult day isn’t it?” said Steinmeier. “A very difficult day,” replied Jakubeit. “This is more than a piece of coal, this is history. This is a day of mourning for you but I assure you this day has moved many people across Germany,” he said.
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17 August, 2019