Lignite Mining

Lignite mining took place around the villages Eijgelshoven en Hoensbroek, as well as north of Geleen, since approximately 1915 by means of opencast mining (ENGELEN, 1989). It took of on larger scale at the end of World War I (in which the Netherlands stayed neutral), during which there existed an urgent need for fuel due to the cutting of from international trade. All concessions were located just north of the large underground mines for bituminous coal (see concession map lignite mines). All lignite mines were opencast strip mines, contrary to e.g. Germany and the Czech republic, where apart from opencast mines smaller underground mines existed until recently. Many farms and houses had to disappear, even the largest part of the castle/farm "Carisborg", the home of one of the Dutch lignite pioneers. Because of the relatively generous financial compensation this relocation was usually settled with little rumour.

The technology museum "Industrion" in Kerkrade shows a preserved bucket excavator (bucket excavator Industrion). The mined reserves are located on the north-western edge of the large lignite deposits of the German Rheinland, west of Cologne (VAN ROOIJEN, 1989). The production of the various concessions amounted typically between 150.000 and 300,000 tonnes yearly from, for lignite standards, relative shallow layers of a few meters thickness (e.g. 7 meters near Eygelshoven). Important lignite mines were Bergerode (Brunahilde 1 en II), Energie (Jaarsveld), Carisborg I and II, Louise 1 and 2, and Heerlerheide. In 1956 the total Dutch lignite production amounted 300.000 tonnes, and 100.000 tonnes of lignite briquettes were produced.

Lignite mining and briquette production came to an end in 1968 due to the closure of Carisborg, the last remaining Dutch lignite mining company. Their new 140 ha concession, granted in 1959 near Ubach over Worms, never came into production. A quantitative estimation of mineable lignite reserves has not been investigated recently. Van Rooijen points out either their great depth or their low seam height as main reasons for their limited economic relevance (VAN ROOIJEN, 1989). On top of this the relatively high density of settlements in the current area can be mentioned as unfavourable factor. However, the gigantic lignite mines of RWE daughter Rheinbraun AG in Germany, who produces yearly over 90.000.000 tonnes of lignite from the same geological basin in the area between Cologne and Aachen, are important for the German economy (RWE homepage, and photographs lignite mining in Germany). For this the largest excavators on earth are employed. For comparison: day production from these mines equals the total yearly output of all former Limburg Lignite mines.


Link to the picture album.



- ENGELEN, F.H.G.: De exploitatie van bruinkool. Grondboor en Hamer, jrg. 43, no. 5/6, p. 343-344, november 1989.
- ENGELEN, F.H.G.: Strijd om bruinkoolconcessies in het Land van Zwentibold, p 144-157 in "Jaarboek voor het Land van Swentibold" 1986 ("Stichting Historisch Jaarboek voor het Land van Swentibold". Postadres: Administratie SHS, Postbus 226, 6130 AE Sittard)
- KREUKELS, L.: Kolen en kompels: de geschiedenis van de Nederlandse mijnwerkers. Elsevier, Amstredam, 1986.
- VAN ROOIJEN, P.: Bruinkool; ontstaan en voorkomen. Grondboor en Hamer, jrg. 43, no. 5/6, p. 339-341, november 1989.



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