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Fig. 1. On 4th December 2018, a ceremony was held in Ibbenbüren to mark the closure of one of Germany’s two remaining coal mines. Bild 1. Bereits am 4. Dezember 2018 fand die Abschiedsveranstaltung für das vorletzte deutsche Steinkohlenbergwerk in Ibbenbüren statt. Photo/Foto: RAG

Ibbenbüren exits the coal industry

“This mine has played a significant part in writing the history of the German coal mining industry,” stressed Peter Schrimpf, CEO at RAG and Chair of the Supervisory Board at RAG Anthrazit Ibbenbüren GmbH. His comments were made at the “Final skip” ceremony held on 4th December 2018 at the von Oeynhausen shaft to mark the closure of the Ibbenbüren mine (Figure 1).

Four hundred invited guests, employees and co-determination representatives descended on the site to see off an industry with a long-standing tradition in the Tecklenburger Land. Heinz-Werner Voß, spokesperson for the Executive Board, welcomed a great many high-ranking guests and associates, including Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia Armin Laschet, President of IG BCE Michael Vassiliadis, North Rhine-Westphalia’s Minister for Employment Karl-Josef Laumann, President of the Münster District Authority Dorothee Feller, Bishop of Münster Felix Genn, the entire RAG-Stiftung board of management, District Administrator Klaus Effing, and the mayors of the coal-mining communities.

Laschet expressed his respect for the miners: “We want to pay tribute to those who have made our state great,” he said. Schrimpf’s speech outlined the importance of the Ibbenbüren mining district in terms of implementing the German Hard Coal Financing Act in a way that is compatible with social responsibilities. He thanked the employees not only for their achievements, but also for the virtues and the values that they displayed throughout the course of their work.

As the coal mining industry draws to a close, we lose a significant source of value creation, lamented Vassiliadis. But although he still considers the decision to withdraw from coal mining to be a mistake, he conceded that this decision nonetheless had to be made to ensure that a socially responsible phase-out was achieved. In his address, Chair of the Ibbenbüren Works Council Uwe Wobben thanked the team for their work and for remaining highly motivated until the very last. Klaus Effing and mayor of Ibbenbüren Marc Schrameyer acknowledged the importance of mining and its contributions to the region, and asserted their optimism that the structural change could be managed successfully.