Until now, the Velsen Adventure Mine Association) in the Saarland has leased the heritage site, formerly a training mine. In the last week, the Association, the RAG Aktien-gesellschaft,Essen/Germany, and the Saarland Ministry of Education and Culture have all signed the contracts (Figure 1).
The solution found is all thanks to a united commitment: As the new owner, the Association will bear any costs incurred for closure and filling. The RAG will therefore pay approximately 1.5 M € in closure costs, as specified in the decommissioning plan, to the Association, which will then transfer the money to the Saarland Ministry of Finance. The state has assured the Association that it will cover the costs in the event of an unavoidable closure and therefore also assumes the risk of increased costs in the future.
Stefan Hager, regional representative for the RAG, thanked all those involved for their extraordinary commitment and perseverance. “We are pleased to have found a viable and sustainable solution for everyone.” The former training tunnel will still be used, now as an Adventure Mine. “Velsen shows once more that it needs cooperation from everyone if the structural transformation is to be a success. With this in mind, we also hope to find solutions for the historical mining monuments. We wish the Velsen Adventure Mine Association many visitors, committed members and, in particular, all the “miner’s luck” in the future.” Volker Etgen, first Chairman of the Association, confirmed: “The transfer of ownership gives us planning security and the fate of this training mine, unique to Germany, will soon be in our hands.”
“Velsen offers more than just a glance at the past, it is indeed a place for future generations”, said the Saarland Minister of Culture Christine Streichert-Clivot while she signed the contracts. “We need networked services between the different mining and industrial heritage locations, and more professionalisation to support the extraordinary voluntary work in this sector. In the new budget, we must therefore also discuss increased funding for industrial heritage.”
Until 2011, the RAG was still teaching miners in the training mine. Since mining ended in the Saarland, the Association has used the training tunnel as a visitor mine. Across an 800 m stretch on three different levels, visitors can see powered shields in several longwalls, conveyors, transportation rails and drilling equipment. Particularly noteworthy: All machines and technologies used in active mining operations are available and ready for use.
A special moment for Minister Christine Streichert-Clivot. As the daughter of a miner, she feels personally drawn to the cultural legacy of the mining era and has in recent years worked with the volunteers of the Association and the RAG to find the chosen solution: “School classes are currently jumping at the chance to visit the former training tunnels in Velsen. Before the pandemic, the operators were swamped with bookings. Velsen offers more than just a glance at the past, it is indeed a place for future generations. We need networked services between the different mining and industrial heritage locations, and more professionalisation to support the extraordinary voluntary work in this sector. In the new budget, we must therefore also discuss increased funding for industrial heritage.” (RAG/Si.)