Yesterday, the last active coal mine Germany stopped all mining activity. The pitmen brought up the last piece of coal ever to be dug in Germany. It is only fitting and appropriate that this happened in the Ruhr Valley, the heart of German coal mining industry.
Coal mining hasn’t only shaped the region of the Ruhr Valley for about 200 years; it has also made the industrial revolution happen with all its benefits like progress and development as well as its downsides like pollution or being the motor of the arms industry and two disastrous world wars.
As much as we owe the mining industry here in the Ruhr Valley, we also have to pay dearly for its downsides. The eternal follow-up costs of coal-mining sum up to the enormous amount of 300 billion (!) euros yearly. They are used (for example) to keep toxic mining waste from getting in contact with the groundwater.
However, the mining industry has also shaped a distinct social group with its own culture based on the core values of the pitmen: Loyalty, team spirit and solidarity – values worth to be kept alive even though the industry must go.
This is a collection of photographs of the shaft towers here in the Ruhr Valley in Germany. With a nod of respect for the pitmen and all that they have done in the last centuries post this image here. “Glück auf!”, as the pitmen say in Germany.