Germany closed yesterday a page of its industrial history with the closing of the mining site of Bochum, the last one still operating in the Ruhr area (west), a region that for centuries exploited its so-called "black gold", coal. "A chapter in our history has ended," said Armin Laschet, the Prime Minister of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The good bye the coal was sentenced by the federal government in 2007 for environmental reasons and it has been progressively executed. But almost 13% of the country's energy consumption still depends on this source, only it is imported instead of being extracted in the Ruhr basin or other regions of the eastern part of the country.
«Our people, our region, owes a lot to coal. He owes him hundreds of thousands of jobs, well-being and a source of energy that has made our country strong, "Laschet added.
North Rhine-Westphalia, with almost 18 million inhabitants, exploited this source of energy for more than two centuries. In the 1950s, some 600,000 residents of the Ruhr area they worked in the mine, a working population that was reduced until, in 2007, some 33,000 miners, while now they were still active the last 3,500.
There were no dismissals, but early retirements and relocations, But the entire region has suffered from the closure of coal wells, which has also coincided with the dismantling of part of its steel industry.
At present unemployment in the Ruhr area stands at 10.4% -the average of the country is at 4.8% -, while cities such as Bochum or neighboring Oberhausen and Duisburg are among the most indebted in the country.
Even before sealing the federal government – according to the Rhenish authorities and the industry of the sector – the abandonment of coal had already been dismantled many large farms.
In the last decades German mining has subsisted thanks to state subsidies and it is estimated that since 1996 61,000 million euros have been allocated to aid for coal.
For environmental organizations, the closing of the wells is too late and the damages caused by this delay are incalculable, to which it is added that some open-cast operations are still active, also in the Rhineland, even more damaging to the environment.
To this is added the generational income that the closure will leave, since in the entire region it will continue to require the pumping of the water that accumulates in its perforated subsoil, a task assumed by the exploiting consortiums of mining and that in the future will be left to the public administration and private owners.
The German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, received yesterday the last piece extracted by the last shift of the miners of Bochum, in a ceremony with strong emotional charge and which was also the president of the Euroepa Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.