Business history of the West mine (Bergwerk West)
The West mine, owned by RAG Deutsche Steinkohle, was the last coal mine in operation on the left bank of the lower Rhine to cease production at the end of 2012, on the basis of the resolutions contained in the Steinkohlefinanzierungsgesetz (German Hard Coal Financing Act) of 2007. As a typical amalgamated mine (Verbundbergwerk) in the Ruhr mining industry in recent decades, it was made up of a number of previously independent mines.
The history of the Friedrich Heinrich AG coal mines in Kamp-Lintfort, and of the Niederberg mine, previously the Niederrheinische Bergwerksgesellschaft, in Neukirchen-Vluyn, shows great continuity. The Rheinland mine was different: it had its origins in a succession of amalgamations of the Rossenray, Pattberg and Rheinpreußen mines after they had been incorporated into Ruhrkohle AG. With the exception of Rossenray, which was the last mine in the Ruhr to commence production, in 1962, the other mines had been active since 1912 and 1917 respectively. Although the Rheinland mine was the largest in Europe from 1971 to 1988, only the Rossenray complex (1/2) in Kamp-Lintfort was later incorporated into the West mine.
The West mine’s predecessors also differed with regard to ownership: in 1923 the Niederrheinische Bergwerksgesellschaft joined forces with three neighbouring companies to form the Niederrheinische Bergwerks-Aktiengesellschaft, with a fairly wide dispersion of the shares. The Rossenray mining areas were bought by Rheinische Stahlwerke in 1909, came into the possession of the Frankfurter Gasgesellschaft in 1927, and became the property of Fried. Krupp AG in 1937. Friedrich Heinrich AG had its origins in the founding of a French banking group in 1906. In 1924 most of its shares went to the Wendel Group, which wanted to secure a supply of coking coal for its steelworks in Lorraine. Friedrich Heinrich therefore remained in French ownership until its takeover by Ruhrkohle AG, with interruptions during the First and Second World Wars.
The publication produced in the context of this project was supported by a steering committee made up of representatives of the West mine and of RAG Aktiengesellschaft, and is dedicated to the changing economic, technological and social history of these mines. The process of amalgamation which has taken place since the establishment of Ruhrkohle AG is mainly a history of downsizing, which ultimately led to the end of the mining industry on the lower Rhine. The project constituted the first ever systematic historical documentation of this core component of mining on the left bank of the Rhine.
Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum
2011 - 2012
- Stefan Moitra, Tief im Westen. Ein Jahrhundert Steinkohlenförderung am linken Niederrhein. Von Friedrich Heinrich zum Bergwerk West, Bochum 2012.