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Deutsche Industrielandschaft: Garzweiler

4755 Views 5 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  fettekatz
About one week ago, i was lucky enough to visit the opencast mine Garzweiler. All pictures were made from inside the truck. For those who are interested in these kind of photothreads, please visit the series of the Giants of Germany and Tagebau Hambach, Germany's largest and deepest opencast mine.

And if you live near the area, or if you have plans to visit the cities of Cologne and/or Dusseldorf, the mine Garzweiler is open for public on:
- sunday 15. June 2008
- sunday 24. August 2008
- sunday 28. September 2008
More information (in German) is available here. The only thing you have to do to visit the mine is to go to the town of Bedburg-Kaster, where buses are ready to show you the mine. It's free! :tup:

As a economic and industrial giant, Germany needs a lot of energy. Especially in the heavy populated Rhein-Ruhr aream which is Germany's economic powerhouse.
About 24,5% of all German electricity is generated by lignites, often referred to as brown coal. In the state of North Rhine-Westphalia almost 42% of all electricity comes from brown coal. These energy comes from the company Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), which is also responsible for the opencast mines.


Garzweiler is an opencast mine, located just west of the cities Dusseldorf and Cologne. The mine is named after the village Garzweiler, which is being destroyed to make way for the German hunger for energy. Not only the village Garzweiler, but many villages and towns are destroyed and the people relocated in new towns.

02) The truck which drove us through the mine.

Garzweiler consists of two parts, Garzweiler I and, bet you didn't see this one coming: Garzweiler II. The total surface is 4800 hectare, in total 175-225 million tons are being mined each year, from which 35-45 million ton is brown coal. The brown coal is being used to power the enormous powerplants in the area, the restproducts of the mining is given back to earth.

03) The brown coal are transported via conveyor systems to the powerplants.

Garzweiler II received approval from the parlement of North Rhine-Westphalia in 1995 and the mining started in the summer of 2006. This means the destruction of multiple towns, so 7600 people are 'forced' to move. They receive a compensation, but i assume they are not very enthusiastic about the whole project.
The whole surface of Garzweiler II is 48 km², and the reserves of brown coal is 1.3 billion ton. That is enough to enjoy mining and digging until 2045. By that time, the whole are will be transformed to agricultural soil, given back to nature for wildlife, flora, fauna and there will be also be a lake of 23 km², which will be over 100 meters deep.


It is a destructive, but fascinating site with monstrious dimensions. This is the home of the real German Giants, the largest vehicles on earth, the most powerful powerplant of Europe and the best example of human exploitation of the earth.

05) Barely visible, but on the left side of the picture a part of the German Autobahn is visible (notice the blue sign). It is bizarre to have a view on these monsters while driving the Autobahn.

The Autobahns A44 and A61 cross the area of Garzweiler II and because of that, they will be changed from time to time:
'The interchange Jackerath-interchange Holz section and the junction Otzenrath were permanently closed to traffic on October 14th 2005. The reason for the closure was the opencast mine at Garzweiler II. Before this section was closed the Bundesautobahn 61 was widened from two to three lanes in each direction. For the closed junction the junction Moenchengladbach-Wanlo was constructed.
When this part of the open cast mine is exhausted - expected in 2017 - a new section of the A 44 will be built across the Bundesautobahn 61. This new route will be to the south of the old route. The same to the new junction Jackerath.
This section was taken out of the official network-register in November 2005 and is no longer officially a Bundesautobahn.' (Wiki)

06) The endstation of brown coal, from which is will be loaded on special trains who will transport it to the powerplants in Frimmersdorf and Neurath.


Not only the huge bucket-wheel excavator are on site, but also large Absetzers (spreaders).

08) Notice the small jeep on the right side of the two Absetzers.


The largest vehicles of the world call Garzweiler (and Hambach) their home. These tremendous machines can cost over $100 million, take 5 years to assemble, require 5 people to operate, weigh more than 13,000 tons, and have a theoretical capacity of more than 12,000 m³/h.

10) Bagger 285

  • Bagger 285:
  • constructed in 1978
  • capacity: 200.000 m³ / day
  • length: 200 m
  • height: 75 m
  • width: 45 m
  • max. power: 16.560 kW
  • total weigth: 13500 t
  • crew: 5

11) Bagger 285

12) Bagger 285

13) Another Absetzer.

A friend told me that in his town, Arnhem (the Netherlands, about 150 km from Garzweiler), they can notice the mining because the levels of groundwater are lower than they should be, this also means that when the pumps in the mines are broken, the miners will have a serious problem.


A bucket-wheel excavator is powered by long lines of electricity. In the largest excavators, the total length of cables is 160 km. The company Siemens is responsible for this.


The excavators are construced by (Thyssen) Krupp. Excator 288 is also construced by Krupp, but in 1992 some replicas were produced by other companies. These are working in Garzweiler and Hambach. One of them is visible in the background of picure 10.




Bucket-wheel excavator Bagger 288 is the largest of all.

19) Driving underneath Bagger 288.

  • Bagger 288:
  • constructed in 1978
  • capacity: 240.000 m³ / day
  • length: 240 m
  • height: 96 m
  • widht: 45 m
  • total power: 16.560 kW
  • total weight: 12840 t
  • crew: 5


Bagger 288 has worked till 2001 in the opencast mine Hambach and drove by itself the 22 km to Garzweiler. The whole trip took three weeks to complete.




As told before, an excavator is able to dig 240.000 cubic meters a day. This is enough to bury a soccerfield under 30 meter of ground. A small car would fit inside one bucket. And sometimes it's goes wrong...


25) Not a great picture, but Bagger 288 was simply too large to fit in one picture.

26) Bagger 288.

27) Everything in the background was mined before, but is now restored.

28) This is where all the conveyor systems meet.

The powerplant (Kraftwerk in German) in Frimmersdorf is located just next to Garzweiler. The total capacity of the powerplant is 2,254 MW. Therefore an impressive 20.4 million ton of brown coal each year, or 647 kg each second(!) is being converted to energy.
This powerplant is the dirtiest power station in Europe and the third most polluting power station in the industrialised world (based on CO2 per megawatt hour sent out).
The chimneys are 200 meters tall.

29) Kraftwerk Frimmersdorf.

Just east of Frimmersdorf is the location of Kraftwerk Neurath, which is being expanded for a pricetag of 2.2 billion euro. The result will be an output of almost 3.300 MW.

30) Kraftwerk Neurath.

Kraftwerk Niederaußem, the real giant. This powerplant uses the brown coal of the opencast mine Hambach. It has a total output capacity of 3,864 MW. The cooling tower is the tallest in the world, the height is 200 meters.

31) Kraftwerk Niederaußem viewed from the one in Neurath.

32) Kraftwerk Niederaußem.

33) The expansion of Kraftwerk Neurath. The red crane in the center of the picture is the Mammoet PTC III, the tallest crane in the world. Mammoet is Dutch for mammoth and it is also the name of construction company, known for hoisting and transporting heavy objects. For example, it raised the Russian submarine Kursk.

34) The cooling towers of Neurath are 170 meters tall.

35) The picture is a bit warped, that is because i wasn't able to fit the whole building and crane in one picture.


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Impressive and awe inspiring. I wish Britain had not got rid of so much of its manufacturing base. Its great to see what can be done in Europe when the will is there.
Fabulous thead. These machines are out of this world!
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