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Sustainable Change of Coal-Mining Regions

  • Jürgen KretschmannEmail author
Article
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Abstract

According to the model of product life cycles, the global coal mining industry is in the stagnation phase. The coal demand of the main consumer, China, has peaked in 2013 and is slowly declining. The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, has excluded coal-related companies for ethical reasons. Important players like the UN or the EU have already begun to describe pathways towards decarbonization. Increasing competition between coal mining companies and the mining regions can be expected worldwide if companies want to keep their positions on the global and national coal markets. Companies will focus on the best deposits. European countries like France, Spain, or Germany are only forerunners of this development—their centuries of coal production have been finished. The concept of sustainable development (SD) is fundamentally based on a model of progress where ecological, economic, and social dimensions should be developed equally and positively. But without the idea of competition, the concept of SD is incomplete. Questions arise, such as how can SD be realized on stagnating or declining markets without guarantees for companies “to live forever”? How can SD be a corporate goal in a phase of decline? How can declining mining regions sustainably progress into a better future? The German hard coal mining industry’s lifecycle has ended in 2018 after 60 years of stagnation and decline. As of 2019, all hard coal consumed in Germany will be imported, especially from Colombia, Russia, and South Africa. What has been done in Germany to handle the coal decline in a sustainable way and the lessons learned from this process is described in this paper. It may be useful for mining regions who will face a similar future sooner or later.

Keywords

Coal Mining regions Sustainable development Transition 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration Inc. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.TH Georg Agricola UniversityBochumGermany

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