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The Influences of Lignite Mining on Grevenbroich, the Energy Capital of Germany

Facharbeit (Schule) 2019 20 Seiten

Geowissenschaften / Geographie - Allgemeines, Grundlagen

Leseprobe

Table of Content

1. INTRODUCTION

2. SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT - THE PHASES OF VALORISATION
2.1 Small-scale mining
2.2 Pre-Industrial Exploitation
2.3 Intensive mining in the course of Industrialisation and its aftermath
2.4 Opencast mining in post-industrial times
2.5 Demographic Development

3.ECOLOGICAL IMPACT
3.1 Landscape
3.2 The Land Area’s Ecosystem
3.2.1 Recultivation of the Land Area
3.3 Water Management and its Influence
3.4 Recultivation of the Aquatic Ecosystem
3.5 Concluding Examination of Recultivation
3.6 Air Pollution

4. CONCLUSION

5. APPENDIX

6. BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. INTRODUCTION

“Grevenbroich- the energy capital of Germany”. This self-given title is both highfalutin and still rather empty. Being familiar with Grevenbroich, one can barely imagine this small city as the federal capital of anything. The only unique feature might be its close connection to lignite mining. But what exactly makes Grevenbroich so proud of it that the mayor decided to welcome all visitors with this phrase? What does tie soft coal and Grevenbroich so firmly together? And why did his successor choose to abolish this label again? Shall I count myself lucky to live here, or do I have to be afraid of terrible side effects?

As an inhabitant of Grevenbroich, I am therefore personally interested in the influence of lignite mining on my home town, which I am going to focus on in this research paper. For this purpose, the topic is essentially divided into two main parts.

At first, I am going to portray the social development having taken place consistent with the different phases of valorisation of Grevenbroich’s mines, from the very first excavation to modern times. Naturally, the changing situation of Grevenbroich’s population has entailed drastic demographic changes as well.

However, it is essential to take the huge ecological impact of brown coal extraction into consideration in order to gain a complete impression. Hereby, it has to be differentiated between the aquatic ecosystems and those ashore.

Weighing these social and ecological effects, one can finally draw a conclusion of the influence of lignite mining on Grevenbroich, the energy capital of Germany.

2. SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT - THE PHASES OF VALORISATION

In order to understand lignite mining’s social influence on Grevenbroich, one necessarily has to consider the economic, demographic and urban development within the different phases of valorisation.

2.1 Small-scale mining

Given that Publius Cornelius Tacitus already reported “fire erupting from the earth”1 in Cologne in 58 AD, the usage of lignite as fuel for building material seems to date back to ancient Roman times, which can also be proven by excavated ceramics from that era. Nevertheless, this process apparently, like many other antique achievements, fell into oblivion after the Roman Empire.

Only subsequent to the Thirty Years’ War from 1618 to 1648, when the various efforts to remedy the multiple damages done by fighting rapidly raised the overall demand for wood as a raw material of vital necessity for construction, some parts of the poorer rural population resorted to the heating material turf from the marsh districts scattered all over Grevenbroich, but soon diminished past the reconstructions.2

By the time of the 18th century, dilletante forestry in forms of over-clearing had again more and more led to a fundamental lack of firewood which was why there only was an “annual per capita wood supply of 1.5 [m3]”2. In contrast, the supply of peat was plentiful and “with 23m3 of turf a farmer could easily get along and could even sell some of it”3. Thus, the trove of lode within the scope of spring digging in Neurath resulted in the “first pre-industrial phase of lignite mining”2.

Consequently, the surface coal deposits were soon exhausted. However, the miners, above all those in Grevenbroich and the surrounding area close to the border to the Netherlands, could certainly profit from the knowledge acquired by the Dutch who used to practice the so called “‘Klütten’ by accumulating earthy brown coal to a pulp, compacting it into conoid wooden forms to let it dehydrate”4, for which process many inhabitants of the city could find the material needed on their own property. After all, the wealth of Grevenbroich’s population increased since the French mining law allowed the people to use the reserves on their land as concessions until 1865.5

Hence, the soft coal reserves kept the inhabitants of Grevenbroich from the timber shortage’s most devasting repercussions.

2.2 Pre-Industrial Exploitation

Nevertheless, like in most other regions, Grevenbroich’s community treasury was in 1700 still burdened with depts piled up during the fighting of 1618 to 1648 and the post war period. As a result, the local landed gentry intended to “rehabilitate the […] finances”6 by commercialising peat decomposition in such a way as to use the profit for paying the creditors off. Therefore, Grevenbroich’s government organized the sale of turf and likewise marketed the ash “declaring it an excellent fertilizer”6.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Document 1i

Having a closer look at document 1 which provides information on the city’s earnings from the purchase, it becomes obvious that the peat mining’s “dual use”7 turned out to be a complete success enabling the city to get into the black again. Thence, Grevenbroich could benefit from this advantage over many competing regions.

2.3 Intensive mining in the course of Industrialisation and its aftermath

As for Grevenbroich’s development, various aspects have since combined to lead to ongoing industrialisation.

In view of the mining’s positive economic influx, the steadily increasing exploitation gradually let the workers come across more and more lignite reserves. Correspondingly, the number of jobs mounted from 7 permanent employees in the pits of Neurath in pre-industrial times to more than 13 000 workers in the Rhenish brown coal mines of the early 20th century.5 8

On account of the higher amount of people involved, more and more mining law trade unions, which, as a corporate business form, are reserved to the mining sector, erupted in line with the further allotments.9 As the employee representation bodies also operated as joint stock companies following the interest of financial gain, they were additionally eager to attract workers by means of wages above average as well as several social perks.10

For instance, the trade unions shaped the Prussian mining law in such a way as to improve both, the working conditions as well as the harmonic and just cooperation with the population with regard to concessions and mining property.9 Moreover, the introduction of the eight working hours a day that are nowadays regarded as common can be put down to the Stinnes-Legien-Agreement enforced these labour unions.11

As for the aim of ameliorating the labourers’ circumstances, it gave another rise to workforce, likewise permitting expansion in mining activity. Thus, these positive side effects mutually entailed enduring mechanisation, which enhanced the workers’ duties along with the opportunities to extract lignite from deeper layers of earth and to compact it to coal briquets. 10

Furthermore, one must not neglect the importance of electricity generation by means of soft coal.

All these developments have, little by little, paved the way for supplementary industrialisation in terms of sequential industries such as the exploitation of diverse raw materials from the soil of the open pit mine. In addition to that, the conversion of lignite into electricity has since allured many energy-intensive productions like the fabrication of sugar from the beet roots the region is known for and the chemical sector. Besides, metal processing and the accretive technical automation have supportively accompanied each other. Whilst lignite mining provided the metal engineering industry with sufficient power supply, the latter accommodates the strip mines with equipment. Henceforth, “since capital goods in particular are delivered to the new lignite mines and the energy production based on it from machinery factories in the wider area, indeed from all over Germany, soft coal mining also promotes the German machinery industry to a considerable extent”12.

Although the large land area occupied by the pits suggests a negative development in the agricultural sector, the direct opposite is in fact the case. Though the number of farmers in the once agrarian region declined to less than 4% of the labouring inhabitants, the erstwhile cultivators did not become unemployed, but usually sought and found well paid jobs in industrial segments. Still, the remaining agricultural holdings addressed “by far more than 80 000 consumers”13 in Grevenbroich’s consistently more urbanised trading area. After all, mining the area meant a valorisation to an earning-capacity value of 3000% of agricultural use. “So, […] lignite mining constitute[d] the direct and indirect agricultural spine of these zones”13.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Document 2 Employees in the Rhenish soft coal exploitation and its sequential industries[ii]

The table in document 2 clearly shows the essential significance of soft-coal related industries, providing 46,000 jobs in the northern subarea with a total population of a rounded up 74,000 people.14 Interestingly, the associated industries only deceeded the actual lignite mining and conversion by 6,000 employees, underlining the diversification of the broadly-based branches of industry, already in the later phase of industrialisation, by which time only 36.2% of the industrial workforce was not connected to lignite.14 Respectively, the loss of work places in the wake of incremental mechanisation was most certainly outnumbered by the creation of jobs in newly settled businesses. Strictly speaking, these sections often offered even better payment. To give an example, the iron and steel industry then paid an hourly wage of about 300 pennies in comparison to an average of 266 in the whole German industry.14 It follows logically that soft coal extraction has left a primary mark on Grevenbroich’s employment structure. At least, 1665 people out of the 2007 inhabitants of Grevenbroich’s district Neurath were employed in industries connected to lignite, ensuing high trade tax revenues.14 To that effect, the community could also partake in the people’s increasing wealth which was why “the tax receipts of the industrial municipalit[y] allowed the construction of generous public buildings, modern schools, churches, sports grounds and gardens, swimming baths and the maintenance of commendable path networks and sewage systems”15, enhancing the population’s standard of living. The “Erasmus-Gymnasium”16 and the foundations for the remodelling of the city’s parks that later accommodated the state horticultural show can be ascribed to the flourishing economic situation of that time.

As a matter of course, the soft-coal, the briquets and all the products of the multiple other industries had to be exported. Consequently, the enterprises invested into different means of transport, to give an example, rail links like the north-south railway17 or “a dense and efficient road network”15. Anyway, “through the technical progress and the invention of the railway the demand for heating material amplified as much as the supply”18. Therefore, this virtuous circle fundamentally amended Grevenbroich’s infrastructure, attracting even more enterprises. Moreover, the revised transport connection simplified the daily in-commuter flow of more than 3,000 people from the environs. In addition, the “in all senses very good” 15traffic situation facilitates the “more distinct reciprocity in the exchange of workforces [due to the] versatil[ity] of [Grevenbroich as a “highly industrial site”] and the industry of neighbouring locations”15, promoting further progress in the agglomeration of industries in Grevenbroich as a key region.

2.4 Opencast mining in post-industrial times

Whereas most other industries were harshly damaged by the Franco-Prussian-War and the two world wars, the state thrived to protect lignite mining as Germany’s main way of power supply. Hereinafter, forced syndicates were to ensure the gain of electricity, preventing about 30% of the miners from conscription calls. However, the impact of the enabling act led to a temporary neglect of financial gain and the same applied for the French occupants.19 At least, the surface mines in Grevenbroich and its surroundings were, unlike in many other areas, largely spared by the Allied forces because of its proximity to France and the resultant possible use for the country.20 Therefore Grevenbroich was less scratched by air attacks, so that the soft coal mining could soon recover for which reason “the volume of coal production before the First World War was already reached again in 1918”21. One of the purposes for this lay in the fact that “extensive reparations in stone coal”21 necessitated a higher supply of lignite as the only sufficient domestic energy source. Against this context, technical inventions such as the introduction of overburden excavators and bucket wheels made the open cast mines in Grevenbroich more competitive, encouraging the city to proclaim itself the “energy capital of Germany”.

[...]


1 Publius Cornelius Tacitus; annals XIII (58 AD)

2 Alexander Weuthen – Die Geschichte des Braunkohletagebaus im rheinischen Braunkohlerevier und seine ökologischen und sozialen Auswirkungen (2015)

2.1) Chapter 3: Der Braunkohleabbau im rheinischen Braunkohlerevier von den Anfängen bis 1945 (cf. pp. 14-15)

2.2)/2.3) Chapter 3.1: Die Braunkohle im Zeitalter der Industrialisierung ( p.19)

3 Dau, J.H. Chr. – Neues Handbuch über den Torf (Leipzig, 1821)

4 Dr. Johannes Demmer on behalf of Landesplanungsgemeinschaft Rheinland - Rheinisches Braunkohlengebiet: Wirtschafts- und Sozialstruktur Teil 1 (1962)

Part 2: Untersuchender Teil

Chapter 1: Die wirtschaftliche Entwicklung unter dem Einfluß der Braunkohle

Subitem 1.2: Die Entwicklung der Braunkohleindustrie

1.21: Allgemeine Übersicht (cf. p. 12)

5 Dr. Peter Zenker – Braunkohle, Kraftwerke, Briketts: Der Norden des Rheinischen Braunkohlereviers

Part 1: Braunkohlenbergbau in Neurath; Chapter 2.1: Französisches Bergrecht (p.15)

Chapter 8 : Erster Braunkohlenabbau in Neurath (p.34)

6 Dr. Peter Zenker – Braunkohle, Kraftwerke, Briketts: Der Norden des Rheinischen Braunkohlereviers

Part 4: Torf saniert die Gemeindefinanzen in Frimmersdorf/Neurath

Chapter 6: Torf saniert die Gemeindefinanzen (p.258)

7 J. Bremer: Das Kurkölnische Amt Liedberg (Mönchengladbach, 1930)

8 Dr. Johannes Demmer on behalf of Landesplanungsgemeinschaft Rheinland - Rheinisches Braunkohlengebiet: Wirtschafts- und Sozialstruktur Teil 1 (1962) (p.15)

9 Dr. Peter Zenker – Braunkohle, Kraftwerke, Briketts: Der Norden des Rheinischen Braunkohlereviers

Part 1: Braunkohlenbergbau in Neurath; Chapter 2.3: Bergrechtliche Gesellschaften (p.16)

Chapter 2.2: Preußisches Bergrecht (p.16)

10 Dr. Johannes Demmer on behalf of Landesplanungsgemeinschaft Rheinland - Rheinisches Braunkohlengebiet: Wirtschafts- und Sozialstruktur Teil 1 (1962)

Chapter 1.23: Die Entwicklung der Produktion , der Beschäftigten, der Umsätze, der Arbeitszeiten und Arbeitsentgelte (p.16)

Chapter 1.2(1): Die Entwicklung der Braunkohleindustrie - Allgemeine Übersicht

11 Alexander Weuthen – Die Geschichte des Braunkohleabbaus im rheinischen Braunkohlerevier und seine ökologischen und sozialen Auswirkungen

Chapter 3.3: Die Rolle der Braunkohle zwischen 1913 und 1933 (p.30)

12 Deutscher Braunkohlen-Industrie-Verein E.V. 1885.1960

Part 4: Braunkohle und Öffentlichkeit

Chapter 1: Die Braunkohle und die Gemeinden (pp. 74-75)

13 Deutscher Braunkohlen-Industrie-Verein E.V. 1885.1960

Part 4: Braunkohle und Öffentlichkeit

Chapter 1: Die Braunkohle und die Gemeinden (p. 75)

14 Dr. Johannes Demmer on behalf of Landesplanungsgemeinschaft Rheinland - Rheinisches Braunkohlengebiet: Wirtschafts- und Sozialstruktur Teil 1 (1962)

Chapter 1.3(1): Die Folgeindustrien/ Allgemeine Übersicht (p.18)

Chapter 1.65: Berufszugehörige und Erwerbspersonen in der Land- und Forstwirtschaft (p.33)

Chapter 1.4: Die übrige Industrie (Nichtfolgeindustrie) (p.23)

Chapter 1.23: Die Entwicklung der Produktion, der Beschäftigten, der Umsätze, der Arbeitszeiten und Arbeitsentgelte (p.16)

Chapter 3.51: Verkehrspflege und Verkehrsförderung […] (p.83)

Chapter 2.6: Das Teilgebiet Nord – Neurath/Frimmersdorf/Grevenbroich/Gustdorf (pp. 49-50)

15 Dr. Johannes Demmer on behalf of Landesplanungsgemeinschaft Rheinland - Rheinisches Braunkohlengebiet: Wirtschafts- und Sozialstruktur Teil 1 (1962)

Chapter 2.7: Übersicht über das Teilgebiet Nord (p.56)

Part 3: Anhang-Gemeindestatistik

Section 1.3: Teilgebiet Nord; Grevenbroich (p.109)

Chapter 2.6: Das Teilgebiet Nord – Neurath/Frimmersdorf/Grevenbroich/Gustdorf (pp. 49-50)

16 Erasmus Gymnasium Grevenbroich: Schulgeschichte

17 Westdeutsche Wirtschaftsmonographie Folge 2: Braunkohle (p.47)

Bundesbahn-Oberrat Kurt Rauch - Die Nord-Süd-Bahn im Rheinischen Braunkohlerevier

18 Alexander Weuthen – Die Geschichte des Braunkohleabbaus im rheinischen Braunkohlerevier und seine ökologischen und sozialen Auswirkungen

Chapter 3.1: Die Braunkohle im Zeitalter der Industrialisierung (p.20)

19 Alexander Weuthen – Die Geschichte des Braunkohleabbaus im rheinischen Braunkohlerevier und seine ökologischen und sozialen Auswirkungen

Chapter 3.3: Die Rolle der Braunkohle zwischen 1913 und 1933 (p.26)

20 Stadt Grevenbroich

21 Alexander Weuthen – Die Geschichte des Braunkohleabbaus im rheinischen Braunkohlerevier und seine ökologischen und sozialen Auswirkungen

Chapter 3.3: Die Rolle der Braunkohle zwischen 1913 und 1933 (p.25)/ (pp.26-27)

Details

Seiten
20
Jahr
2019
ISBN (eBook)
9783668935020
ISBN (Buch)
9783668935037
Sprache
Englisch
Katalognummer
v465169
Note
1,0
Schlagworte
Grevenbroich lignite mining energy coal Braunkohle Tagebau Kohle Energie

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Titel: The Influences of Lignite Mining on Grevenbroich, the Energy Capital of Germany