Central German lignite district

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Central German lignite area, structure since 1998

The Central German Brown Coal District , often also called Central German Revier for short , is a mining region in Central Germany . Since the field is described historically and differently depending on the individual science , the term overlaps with complex definitions . Since the German reunification , the central German lignite area has been assigned to Saxony-Anhalt in general as well as the north-western part of Saxony and the extreme east of Thuringia .

The lignite mining has changed the landscape in the region sustainably and many contaminated sites left. Today it is one of the largest redevelopment areas in Europe. In addition to the recultivation of former mining landscapes , coal is still being mined extensively in the Amsdorf , Profen and Schleenhain opencast mines . As a result of mining , over 51,000 people have lost their home in the Central German area. Further devastations are planned.

Former territories

Until the beginning of the 20th century, lignite was only of minor importance for Germany's energy and fuel supply. The higher quality hard coal was predominantly used . After the First World War, the German Reich had to cede numerous areas and lost around 40% of its best hard coal deposits. The coal mining areas that were left in place also had to pay considerable reparations . This made lignite an indispensable energy factor in all branches of industry. While before 1919 the share of lignite in electricity generation due to its low calorific value, its poor transportability and the lack of heating and transmission technology, the coal shortage associated with the assignment of territories and the self-sufficiency efforts in the Weimar Republic forced an increase a share of almost 60% of energy generation.

This resulted in a huge increase in production capacity in all German lignite regions. On this basis, Germany developed into the world's largest producer and at the same time the largest consumer of lignite in the 1920s. The statistical breakdown until 1945 distinguished the Central German Revier , the East Elbe Revier and the Lower Rhine Revier as the largest brown coal areas . Before the Second World War, the Central German mining district supplied around two-fifths, the East Elbe and Rhenish each around a quarter of all German lignite. Lusatia and Lower Silesia with the Cottbus - Senftenberg center and the three peripheral districts of Frankfurt ( Brandenburg Province ), Görlitz ( Lower Silesia Province ) and Forst (Brandenburg Province) belonged to the East Elbe mining area, today only called Lusatian lignite mining area . Even today, these areas do not belong to the Central German district.

The largest consumer of central German lignite was the chemical industry, followed by power plants, potash plants and sugar factories. Before the war, sales of the coal required for industry were 61% and for domestic fuel 39%. One reason for the higher output in the Central German mining area was and is the quality of the raw coal. Central German lignite is inherently disadvantaged compared to its competitors due to its high water content averaging 50% and the resulting low calorific value . Another disadvantage is the thickness of the overburden . In some central German districts almost daily passing lignite deposits were exhausted late 19th century, so that the reduction only after the breakthrough often massive quartzite layers can take place.

The term Mitteldeutsches Braunkohlerevier was officially used for the first time with the founding of the Mitteldeutscher Braunkohlen-Syndikat in 1909, which was the first definition of the area. The syndicate was based in Leipzig and comprised nine districts:

The syndicate districts were alternatively called syndicate districts. The Central German lignite syndicate was created as a sales association of private mining companies and was supposed to regulate the promotion, own consumption and sales of its members for raw coal, briquettes, wet pressed stones and coke . When the Coal Industry Act came into force in March 1919, the syndicates were controlled by the Reich Coal Council throughout Germany . The syndicate districts in Central Germany existed until 1946.

The control and administration of the individual, geographically fixed mountain areas was carried out by the mining authorities . Some of these had existed in central Germany since the 16th century. Structurally, the mining offices and their districts remained essentially unchanged until 1946, with the Bornaer Revier (Bergamt Borna in Borna) replacing the Northwest Saxon district in 1930 because lignite was only mined in this region in the northwest of Saxony. The largest mining companies in the Central German lignite district included: the

In November 1946, the syndicate and the mining offices were abolished by order of the SMAD . This formally ended the existence of the mining authority district in Central Germany. The opencast mines, often spanning former areas, were combined into lignite combines, which were assigned to technical mining inspections. These were directly subordinate to the Supreme Mining Authority at the GDR Council of Ministers .

From then on, the term Central German lignite mining area was no longer used in the official language of the GDR . At the same time, the individual districts were replaced by terms such as “space”, “area”, “deposit”, which still leads to misunderstandings today. In the GDR, for example, the “lignite area of ​​Halle” did not mean the former Halle district , but the entire Halle district . As a rule, the respective combine name was used, such as " VEB Braunkohlenkombinat 'Erich Weinert' Deuben ", in which lignite works and opencast mines of the Zeitz-Weißenfelser Revier were combined, or "VEB Braunkohlenkombinat Bitterfeld", which even included the opencast mines in the Bornaer Revier.

In contrast, in West Germany the term Mitteldeutsches Braunkohlerevier continued to be used both in specialist literature and by politics. It should be noted that “Central Germany” was synonymous with “GDR” in West German politics in order to avoid the term “GDR”. This is also associated with misunderstandings to this day. In West German books and documents, for example, the “Central German lignite area” or “Central German mining” often meant the entire lignite area of ​​the GDR.

After German reunification , the former mining authority districts in Central Germany regained their old structures, but after a short time the mining authorities became obsolete due to the closure of numerous opencast mines. That means, with the exception of Kassel, the current boundaries of the district are largely identical to the structures that emerged at the beginning of the 20th century.

Today's demarcation

Basically, the Central German lignite district is not to be equated with the Central German mining district, since various raw materials have been mined in Central Germany for more than 1000 years . These include above all:

Since the end of the 20th century, the Central German district has no longer been divided into classic mountain districts , but rather into a southern, northern and western area according to the catchment areas of the operating or disused mines. The southern area, including the Raßnitzer See, lies in the catchment area of ​​the White Elster and the western area includes the greater Saale catchment area . The northern area between Leipzig and Graefenhainichen in the Leipzig lowlands part of the trough basin . The Nachterstedt and Helmstedt mining areas are also part of the Central German lignite district.

Within national boundaries, the individual pit areas of the Central German lignite mining area under stand today without intermediary directly to the Mines Inspectorate the Supreme authorities : in

Among other things, these authorities are responsible for the operational supervision of lignite extraction and lignite rehabilitation mining.

Since in this episode the current boundaries of the central German lignite mining area actually correspond to those of the central German mining area, both terms are often used synonymously. In particular, however, it is important to differentiate, for example in the discussion about the coal phase-out , in which various interest groups often equate the number of employees in the Central German lignite mining area with the number of employees in all mining branches in the Central German mining area .

Current development

The mining region in central Germany is characterized by more than 160 years of lignite extraction, some of which was carried out underground, but to a large extent in open pit mining . In addition to the use of huge agricultural areas and forests, a large number of places were devastated and transport links and water bodies were interrupted. With the political change in 1989/90 and the associated economic reorientation in eastern Germany, the demand for lignite fell to one sixth of the peak production in GDR times. Opencast mines and lignite refining plants that were no longer profitable were shut down for a short time. Since then, the areas have been extensively renovated and, as post-mining landscapes, are partially damaged to this day with considerable contaminated sites from GDR times.

In addition to the recultivation of the used areas, lignite is still being mined in the Central German mining area. In 2018 the annual production volume was 17.7 million tons, of which 11.1 million were in the Saxon part of the Central German mining area. The current operating area is 12,200 hectares, or around 120,000,000 square meters or 120 square kilometers. At the end of March 2017, 2,396 people were still employed in the central German lignite district, including the power plant employees of the lignite companies. In total, more than 48,000 hectares have been devastated in the central German lignite mining district, causing over 51,000 people to lose their homes.

Two companies are currently active in lignite mining in the Central German mining area:

  • The Romonta , based in Amsdorf , the world's largest producer of is lignite wax , which the company west of the Hall opencast mine Amsdorf operates. A special characteristic of the lignite extracted there is the high bitumen content . The tar-rich brown coal is the raw material for extracting montan wax. The deposit still has around 5 million tons of extractable lignite that is to be dredged by 2030.
  • The MIBRAG , headquartered in Zeitz , is the largest of the two mining companies in the Central German territory. It currently includes the Profen opencast mine and the United Schleenhain opencast mines . The Profen opencast mine is located on the state border between Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony. Only a small corner of the mining area protrudes into Saxony. Here the intended according to the framework operation plan by 2035. Lignite is mined. The United Schleenhain opencast mines are located south of Leipzig entirely in Saxony. These are scheduled to remain in operation until 2040. In addition, MIBRAG is currently planning to open a new opencast mine in Lützen together with the state governments in Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt as well as an expansion of the United Schleenhain with two new opencast mines, through which around 1200 people would lose their homes. In the Groitzscher Dreieck , mining is scheduled to begin in 2028.

Basically, the lignite extracted in the Central German mining area after 1970 no longer corresponds to the quality of the former deposits. The relatively high water content of 48 to 60 percent remains characteristic of lignite. Only around 35 to 50 percent are combustible material (pure coal). Up to 16 percent of the burned raw lignite remains as ash and slag . The high water content leads to a comparatively low calorific value or low energy content when converting electricity .

The main disadvantage, however, is the sulfur content : In addition to the United Schleenhain opencast mines, coal from the Profen opencast mine has the highest sulfur content in Germany of 1.7%. A high sulfur content generally leads to higher wear and tear in the power plants as well as to higher expenditure and higher costs for flue gas cleaning . In addition, an unfavorable overburden-to-coal ratio of 7: 1 on average and large-scale quartzite banks, particularly in the Profen open-cast mine, make it difficult to extract lignite.

The LMBV , financed by tax money, is responsible for the rehabilitation and recultivation of the open-cast mining areas in the Central German mining area, which have been closed since 1990 .

See also


  • Kurt Pietzsch : Germany's brown coals. Borntraeger brothers, 1925.
  • Gottfried Lehmann: The Central German Brown Coal Syndicate in Leipzig. University of Greifswald, 1930.
  • Otfried Wagenbreth : The lignite industry in Central Germany. Sax-Verlag, 2011.
  • Sigrun Kabisch, Sabine Linke: Revitalization of communities in the post-mining landscape. Springer-Verlag, 2013.
  • Rainer Vulpius: Germany's lignite deposits - an overview. GDMB Verlag, 2015.

Web links

Commons : Open-cast lignite mining in Central Germany  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Ursula Bischoff: The influence of mining traditions and large-scale industrial developments on the social structure and mobility of the lignite workers in Borna. Dissertation, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 2000, p. 76. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, accessed on September 20, 2019.
  2. Georg Balzer: The European coal industry with special consideration of the international working time problem. Verlag Funk, 1934, p. 55.
  3. Ferdinand Friedensburg: The mountain economy of the earth. Verlag Ferdinand Enke, 1965, p. 135.
  4. Eckart Schmitt, Dietmar Gohl, Jürgen Hagel: Handbook of Geography. Germany. List-Verlag, 1975, p. 126.
  5. ^ Wilhelm Hölling, Friedrich August Pinkerneil: The German mountain economy of the present. R. Hobbing, 1928, p. 12 f.
  6. Erich Obst: General economic and transport geography. Walter de Gruyter, 1965, p. 78.
  7. ^ Walter Herrmann: The capital in the central German lignite mining. Dissertation. Philosophical Faculty of the University of Leipzig, 1930. Georg Weigel Publishing House, 1933, p. 59.
  8. ^ Walter Herrmann: The capital in the central German lignite mining. Dissertation. Philosophical Faculty of the University of Leipzig, 1930. Verlagdruckerei Georg Weigel, 1933, pp. 23–24.
  9. Andrea Löw: German Empire and Protectorate. Walter de Gruyter, 2012, p. 221, footnote 9.
  10. ^ Bergakademie Freiberg (ed.): Archive for deposit research. Volumes 55-61. Akademie-Verlag, 1933, p. 131.
  11. Alfred Adomzent: The concentration in the German lignite mining. Albertus University Königsberg, 1933, p. 6 and p. 59.
  12. Christine Enderlein: Central German Brown Coal Syndicate Leipzig 1898 - 1947 . Finding aid No. 20648. Sächsisches Staatsarchiv Leipzig ( online overview ). Online overview ( memento of the original from June 30, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.archiv.sachsen.de
  13. Ursula Bischoff: The influence of mining traditions and large-scale industrial developments on the social structure and mobility of the lignite workers in Borna. Dissertation, Humboldt University Berlin, 2000, p. 72.
  14. Cornelia Wewetzer: Halle and mining. Landesheimatbund Sachsen-Anhalt, 2005, p. 328.
  15. ^ Geographical Society of the German Democratic Republic (ed.): Socialist Society and Territory in the GDR. VEB Hermann Haack, 1972, p. 141.
  16. Jürgen John: Shape and change of the "Central Germany" pictures. In: Jürgen John, State Center for Political Education Saxony (Ed.): "Central Germany". Concept - history - construct. 1st edition. Hain, 2001, pp. 63-67.
  17. Tectonics Group Economy Sächsisches Staatsarchiv, accessed on September 18, 2019.
  18. Eckhard Oelke : Glück Auf! Mining and mining regions in Saxony-Anhalt. Excursion guide. MDV Verlag Halle, 2002, p. 3 ff.
  19. Lignite mining lakes in Germany (p. 21) Federal Environment Agency , accessed on March 22, 2019.
  20. LMBV Flooding, Water Treatment and Aftercare Concept Central Germany 2016 (p. 14.) LMBV, accessed on September 18, 2019.
  21. see links to the given state offices
  22. Short study on the employment structure in the Central German Revier IAB-Regional Sachsen, accessed on September 18, 2019.
  23. ^ Mining renovation LMBV, accessed on September 18, 2019.
  24. Central Germany "Future instead of brown coal", accessed on September 16, 2019.
  25. Central German Revier (Saxon part) Facts and Figures 2018 Saxon Mining Authority, accessed on September 16, 2019.
  26. Central Germany "Future instead of brown coal", accessed on September 16, 2019.
  27. Mitteldeutsches Revier BUND , accessed on September 16, 2019.
  28. Central Germany "Future instead of brown coal", accessed on September 16, 2019.
  29. LMBV Flooding, Water Treatment and Aftercare Concept Central Germany 2016 (p. 27.) LMBV, accessed on September 18, 2019.
  30. ^ The German lignite industry, study, 2017, pp. 23–25. Agora Energiewende, accessed on March 13, 2019.
  31. Mitteldeutsches Braunkohlenrevier, Wandlungen und Perspektiven, issue 19, Profen, p. 4. LMBV, accessed on March 22, 2019.
  32. Ecology and forest recultivation LMBV, accessed on September 18, 2019.

Coordinates: 51 ° 7 ′ 10 ″  N , 12 ° 24 ′ 0 ″  E