History of coal mining in Limburg
1850-1892The start of the Industrial Revolution in Europe increased the demand for coal. The production of textiles and steel was taken over by steam engines that required coal to operate. Large deposits of coal could be found in Limburg, making the region preferable for mining. The first small-scale mines, Domaniale and Neupick, were already present within the surroundings of Heerlen (de mijnstreek van nederland., n.d.). Image source: Wikimedia Commons.
1893-1898Many of the most well know mines in Limburg were private mines. In order to be allowed to start a mining company, permission from the government was required. On May 2, 1893, railway industrial Sarolea received governmental permission, beginning the constructing on the first large-scale coal mine, called Oranje-Nassau, not too long after (the-mining-history-of-zuid-limburg., n.d.). Image source: Privécollectie ``De Beukel``.
1899-1957By 1928, twelve mines were in operation in Limburg: four operated by the State and eight private mining sites owned by four different operators. In barely twenty years, the mines had made the south-east corner of the province of Limburg one of the most industrialized areas of the Netherlands. In 1898, the Limburg coal mines employed 648 people; in 1930, the total workforce of the mines was almost 38,000, sixty times as many. In the same period, the total population of the mining region grew from 70,000 to almost a quarter of a million (de mijnstreek van nederland., n.d.). In the map, the red line is the border between the Netherlands and Germany. Each red dot refers to a mine, for example ON II refers to Oranje-Nassau II. When viewing the map from above, the mines on the left side of the red line were located in the Netherlands. Image source: Wikipedia.
1958-1964The mining industry entered a crisis from 1958 onwards when mines struggled to compete with foreign mines that produced coal in a cheaper way. The Limburg mining industry hoped to reduce labor costs through the mechanization of coal mining. A new pit, the Beatrix, was constructed, which never became operational as the works were shut down while finishing the final shaft (historie van de mijnbouw in limburg., n.d.). Image source: Privécollectie ``De Beukel``.
1965-1974On December 17, 1965, the then Minister of Economic Affairs, Den Uyl, proposed a plan to dismantle coal production. As a result, at the end of 1974 the last coal was extracted from the Limburg area and the last mine, Oranje Nassau, was closed. In the second half of the seventies, the area experienced a recession. At the end of the seventies, the unemployment rate in Limburg was double the national average. In the mining region this economically difficult period had serious social consequences that are still tangible today (van-groen-naar-zwart-en-weer-terug., n.d.). Image source: Wikimedia Commons.