The North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry for Economic Affairs, the city of Recklinghausen/Germany and RAG Aktiengesell-schaft, Herne/Germany, are in favour of preserving the training mine in the Recklinghausen-Süd district. This was explained during a visit by the Minister for Economic Affairs, Garrelt Duin, Mayor Christoph Tesche and RAG Director Stefan Hager (Figure 1). Minister Duin said: “The facility is an asset in three respects: Firstly, it conveys a fascinating realistic image of the underground world and will attract tourists both from the region and further afield. Secondly, even after coal mining has come to an end in this country, mining suppliers will be able to demonstrate the quality of their machines to international customers. And finally, it is a very popular location among film-makers.”
RAG does not have the ways and means to continue operating the training mine as of 2019, once coal production has ended. Hager: “We at RAG are unable to secure the training mine’s future. Which is why we are pleased to find partners into whose responsible hands we can pass this institution. We have always kept the training mine up to date with modern technology, for our own benefit. Currently there is nowhere else above ground that gives you as authentic an experience of mining as here in Recklinghausen. This is an opportunity for the city of Recklinghausen and the mining region to benefit from tourism.”
The North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry for Economic Affairs together with the District Government of Arnsberg, the city of Recklinghausen and RAG will now establish what the future of the institution might look like in specific terms and who could operate the “mine”. Mining machine manufacturers from North Rhine-Westphalia have also stated their interest in preserving the training mine, along with the Smart Mining global network of EnergieAgentur.NRW. They have requested that it remains a “training mine” at the very least, in order to continue to test machines and train staff to use them. Of course, this would mean many visitors could still get a glimpse of the underground world – but without access to the deposit itself.
“Recklinghausen has grown up with coal and has a close relationship with mining,” highlighted the Mayor of Recklinghausen, Tesche. He continued: “That is why we would like to preserve the training mine as a piece of our contemporary history, as a site for discovering mining and for further use. This will enable us to create a tourist destination and a unique landmark in the north of the Ruhr region. At the same time, it will create the new jobs we desperately need owing to the end of the mining industry in Recklinghausen.”
The RAG training mine is located in the spoil tip on the site of the former Recklinghausen II coal mine (Figure 2). With a drift measuring 1,200 m, various types of extraction equipment, tunnelling and a shaft, it provides a realistic representation of the underground world. The most important machines and equipment used for a range of tasks from preliminary work to extraction, as well as transport right through to communication and control equipment, are concentrated in a small area in the training mine. RAG primarily uses the equipment to train skilled personnel under realistic conditions. There is even a 17 m deep shaft available for training purposes.
The training mine also provides ideal conditions for research projects, such as a collision warning system for international mining which was developed here by a consortium of eight European companies led by the RWTH Aachen University. The German Aerospace Center also used the training mine to test an innovative shaft inspection system with high-tech modules for abandoned mines in cooperation with RAG.
Moreover, the training mine has served as a filming location on multiple occasions. E. g., scenes from “The Miracle of Bern”, as well as two German TV series “Alarm für Cobra 11” and “Der letzte Bulle” were all filmed here.
The “mine workings” originally arose from the spoil tip of the Clerget shaft sunk in 1870, also known locally as the “Klärchen” shaft. The mine was only renamed “Recklinghausen II” at a later date and mined coal from 1875 until it was decommissioned in 1972. In the Second World War, the drifts in the spoil tip served as a military hospital and an air raid shelter and were not used for a long time thereafter. The mine has been used by RAG for training purposes since 1975. Up until 2003, trainees still used a drift in the spoil tip of around 250 m in length. Today, the training mine receives some 6,000 visitors every year with exercises and training sessions held for professional development, catering for up to 100 people per day. In addition to realistic underground conditions, the mine has two rooms equipped for modern multimedia and a number of seminar rooms to assist with the delivery of these sessions. (RAG/Si.)