We are generating long-term momentum for the transformation of the regions along the Ruhr and Saar Rivers and in Ibbenbüren. In all of our activities we remain aware of our legacy, because the roots of the RAG-Stiftung lie deep in the hard coal mining industry. Founding the future is a perpetual obligation.
We bear the responsibility for financing the perpetual obligations resulting from hard coal mining in Germany by RAG Aktiengesellschaft: pit water management, polder measures and groundwater purification. In order to safeguard the long-term financing of these activities, we are building up assets through a secure but profitable programme of capital investment. This programme is reliably providing us with the necessary returns. In addition, we promote projects in the areas of education, science and culture that are related to the hard coal mining industry in Germany.
The socially acceptable discontinuation of hard coal mining in Germany
Germany's last two hard coal mines were closed down at the end of 2018. This scheduled termination of an entire industry was a predetermined process that was initiated with the coal policy agreement of 7 February 2007 between the German federal government, the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Saarland, RAG and the IG BCE trade union and is being funded in line with the Coal Financing Act passed by the German Parliament on 20 December 2007.
The RAG-Stiftung, as the owner of RAG Aktiengesellschaft, was appointed to achieve the cooperatively formulated goals. These goals included the socially acceptable discontinuation of subsidized hard coal mining, which has now been successfully achieved. Former miners were promptly helped to obtain the qualifications they needed for re-entry into the labour market and informed of new job opportunities. Other employees were given socially acceptable early retirement offers.
Financing perpetual mine management obligations
Coal mining has created an extensive system of underground shafts and tunnels and has also had an impact on the landscape in the mining regions. These man-made changes must be permanently managed. In addition to securing the shafts and tunnels and eliminating mining-related damage — tasks that the RAG Corporation will have to finance even after 2018 — the foundation has to implement measures for the permanent management of pit water and groundwater. After the coal-mining operations have been discontinued, these perpetual management tasks will be funded by the RAG-Stiftung.
Intensive underground and aboveground water management is a corollary of coal mining, because coal can only be extracted at great depths if the pit water that seeps into the galleries is continuously pumped out. The pit water still has to be continuously pumped out even after coal is no longer mined. This is due to a variety of reasons, such as the need to protect drinking water.
Moreover, pumping facilities have to be operated in some areas in order to prevent lakes from forming above ground as a result of mine subsidence. Last but not least, groundwater purification facilities are operated in former mining areas to protect the groundwater. This active pit water and groundwater management cannot be discontinued after coal mining has ceased; it is a task that has to be performed in perpetuity.
Building up the foundation’s assets
The RAG-Stiftung is greatly reducing the financial strain on the public sector by financing the perpetual mine management obligations with income from the foundation’s assets (i.e. income from its capital and holdings). The foundation’s assets that are available for this purpose mainly consist of assets that were generated by coal mining in the affected regions. This is because Evonik Industries AG and Vivawest GmbH have their origins in coal mining and the former RAG Group.
In the unlikely case that the RAG-Stiftung’s assets do not suffice to finance these tasks, the federal government and the governments of the two coal-mining states have guaranteed that they will supply the required funds. The RAG-Stiftung is working to make sure no shortfall occurs.
Supporting education, science and culture
In addition to funding perpetual obligations, the RAG-Stiftung has the purpose of financing educational, scientific and cultural projects in the Ruhr and Saar regions, provided they are related to the coal-mining industry. For example, the RAG-Stiftung funds training programmes for teenagers in the former Ruhr and Saar mining regions and supports scientific research regarding the consequences of Germany’s coal mining activities.
In future, the foundation will also support the further development of institutions that used to be regularly funded by RAG AG and whose survival would be at stake with the cessation of coal mining. Among them are the German Mining Museum (which also conducts research), the private Georg Agricola University of Applied Sciences in Bochum, and the miners’ choirs and orchestras.
We are doing our part to support the transformation of the former mining regions.