Garzweiler mine

From Global Energy Monitor

The Garzweiler coal mine is one of Europe's largest open-pit mines, and is operated by RWE Power in North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany.

Location

The satellite photo below shows the area of the mine North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany.

Loading map...

Background

The Garzweiler mine currently operates in a 3200-hectare area, though it is approved for 11,400 ha of coalfields. There are 1.1 billion tonnes of reserves and 35 million tonnes of annual production.[1] Garzweiler’s Neurath pit – the core of the operation known as Garzweiler I – began around 1940, with Garzweiler II starting in 2006. Although the current operating license limits extraction to 2045, Garzweiler II, in particular, has proved extremely contentious, with its scope being cut back time and time again.[2]

Expansions

RWE, which received its mining permit in the 1990s, has plans to continue expanding the Garzweiler mine's Garzweiler II pit until 2038 — the date of Germany's coal phase out deadline.[3] Due to the fact that the mine operates in a fraction of its approved coalfield lands, it can effectively expand inside of its own lease without additional approvals.

The latest 2300 hpa planned expansion of the Garzweiler II pit, which will require the removal of several villages in its path, including Lützerath, is expected to occur in 2023.

Despite RWE's expansion plans, the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia, which is responsible for the lignite mines at Inden, Hambach, and Garzweiler, has stated in past development plans that the further expansion of these mines is not necessary.[4]

Opposition

The expansion of the Garzweiler mine in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia threatens the existence of 12 villages that are home to 7,600 residents. Demolition of the first four villages is scheduled to begin in 2023. Acting under the name Menschenrecht vor Bergrecht – Human Rights Before Mining Rights – the alliance of villagers announced in September 2019 they would refuse an expropriation agreement with RWE under which the energy company would pay to resettle them. This would mean the company would have to apply to the regional government for formal permission to dispossess the residents. But the villagers said they would then challenge this in court.[5] In September 2020, villagers lodged a case with Germany’s Constitutional Court, the country's top court, in a bid to save their homes.[6]

In March 2022, the high court for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia rejected the complaints of the Lützerath townspeople. It upheld an earlier decision by a district administrative court which ruled that mining the coal under Lützerath is in full conformity with the planning decisions of the government, which assumed the coal would still be needed for power production well past 2030. While recognizing the “undeniable” climate and environmental damage caused by coal mining and coal power generation, the court ruled that climate protection measures don’t require the immediate phasing out of coal.[3]

Project Details

  • Operator: Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk AG (RWE) Power
  • Owner: Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk AG (RWE) Power
  • Location: North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany
  • GPS Coordinates: 51.0839989, 6.4529844 (exact)
  • Mine Status: Operating
  • Production: 28.749 million tons per year (2020 estimate); 22.6 mtpa (2019) [7]
  • Total Resources:
  • Total Reserves: 1.1 billion tonnes
  • Coal Type: lignite
  • Mine Size: 3200 ha
  • Mine Type: Surface
  • Start Year: 1940
  • Source of Financing:
  • Number of Employees: 1400


Articles and resources

References

  1. Garzweiler mine, RWE website, 2017.
  2. Open-pit lignite mine Garzweiler, Clean Energy Wire, 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Germany to demolish village for coal, despite phaseout plans", E&E News Climatewire, April 13, 2022.
  4. Germany’s three lignite mining regions, Clean Energy Wire, August 7, 2018.
  5. "Human rights before mining rights: German villagers take on coal firm", The Guardian, September 30, 2019.
  6. "German villagers want top court to save homes from coal mine", Associated Press, September 9, 2020.
  7. Ten Biggest Producing Surface Mine in Europe in 2020, Mining Technology,06 Sep 2021.