(Chief Editor Mining Report Glückauf)
It has now been a year since Mining Report Glückauf took on the theme post-mining. The main focus at the time was on issues connected with company organisation and structure in the transition from active mining to the post-mining era and – using as an example the safekeeping measures applied in the former Thuringian potash mining industry – how it is possible to deal with historical legacies such as open mine workings and spoil tips. I would like to pick up this thread once more, though this time from a different perspective. For the infrastructure that has been left behind by the mining industry needs to be safeguarded and secured so effectively that there is no likelihood of damage to persons or to the environment. Indeed productive new uses can even be found for sites of this kind.
Enter RAG Montan Immobilien GmbH, who have been taking over former coal-industry land from their parent company RAG for the development of renewable-energy sites and for the creation of innovative residential and industrial estates. The RAG company for its part now has the permanent task of pumping out the mine water that continues to rise in the disused workings to prevent it from mixing with the ground water. Meanwhile, the thermal energy contained in this water can under certain conditions be exploited as a source of geothermal heat.
Pumped-storage power plants provide another opportunity for using old mine infrastructure for storing electrical energy. This technology has been examined in a series of studies undertaken at various sites, including Prosper-Haniel colliery in Bottrop, and this work has confirmed the technical feasibility of accommodating the lower reservoir below ground. The downside remains, however, that pumped-storage power plants are not commercially viable at the present time.
The German mining industry has over the years created a large number of settling ponds and slurry lagoons. As the findings of research projects have shown, new projects undertaken in the post-mining phase can bring about the recovery of the material contained in these sites and provide synergies for raw-materials supply and the reclamation of contaminated industrial land. The use of geosynthetics in the ore-pile leaching process, e. g., can help increase the extraction rate of these recyclables. These materials can also be employed for stabilising berms, embankments and other soil structures.
The post-mining era will bring together various questions that will be of interest to the world of business and macroeconomics.
The concluding article in this edition moves away from the post-mining theme to discuss some of the issues connected with the licensing of Hambach opencast mine and with EU legislation on habitat and species protection.
With my best regards
Dipl.-Ing. Andreas-Peter Sitte
Chief Editor Mining Report Glückauf, Essen