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Germany closed its last black coal mine

Germany decommissioned the Bottrop mine, its last bituminous coal mine at the end of December 2018. The closure happened eleven years after government's decision of 2007 to phase out the aid and shutter the last black coal mines by 2018. According to RAG Foundation, the only hard coal producer in Germany in charge of the black coal phase-out, hard coal producing costs in Germany (€250/t) are significantly above the market price of €80/t. Consequently, most of the black coal consumed in German coal-fired power plants comes from Russia, the United States, Australia and Colombia.

The Hard Coal Mining Financing Law (Steinkohlefinanzierungsgesetz, 2007) defines the conditions of termination of subsidies to the coal industry by end-2018: the €20bn financial burden for the period 2009-2019 was split between the Federal Government (€15.6bn), the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia (€3.9bn) and RAG AG (€965m as from 2012).

A government-appointed commission is to announce in February 2019 a roadmap for exiting coal as part of efforts to make Germany carbon-neutral by 2050. However, the government plans to adopt a gradual phase-out of coal-fired power to safeguard jobs and ensure power supply stability, alongside the planned exit from nuclear power by 2022. The persistently low wholesale electricity prices worsen the profitability of large conventional power plants but this is expected to improve after the nuclear phase out.

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