The RAG-Stiftung supports educational, scientific and cultural projects in the Ruhr and Saar mining regions, provided they are related to Germany’s coal-mining industry. Since the foundation’s establishment in 2007, the volume of funding it provides has tripled, rising to a total of €10.5 million in 2016. The focus is on the promotion of educational projects, which received approximately €6 million in 2016. This amount is set to grow in the future. Education will continue to account for the largest proportion of funding from the RAG-Stiftung in the years ahead, in line with a long-standing tradition of the mining industry.
The projects funded by the RAG-Stiftung can be divided into the categories Heritage and Transformation. On the one hand, the foundation aims to preserve the mining heritage as a living tradition for future generations. On the other, in view of the approaching end of hard coal mining at the end of 2018, the foundation aims to create new opportunities in the former mining areas and to help develop them into attractive and livable regions.
CREATING A FUTURE THROUGH EDUCATION
The coal mines in the Ruhr and Saar regions have always been important training centres. The mining industry provided high-quality traineeships for a wide variety of commercial and technical professions. It also enabled teenagers with below-average starting qualifications to enter the training and job markets. The last time that young people were able to begin traineeships in the Ruhr region’s mining industry was in 2014. To address the continuous decline in traineeships early on, the RAG-Stiftung has, among other things, been involved since 2008 in non-company-specific training projects organized by the state governments of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Saarland. In addition, the foundation promotes formats that support young people during their schooling so as to prepare them as early as possible for a training programme or university study.
PROMOTING THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE
In the course of its development, the German mining industry accumulated an impressive body of specialized know-how. It developed many innovative technologies so that coal could be extracted safely and efficiently from even the deepest layers underground. This expert knowledge will not become worthless when Germany’s last coal mines are closed at the end of 2018. The know-how will continue to be in demand in a variety of disciplines. Contaminated areas will have to be cleaned up, shafts secured, mine gas discharged in a controlled manner, and pit water regulated on a permanent basis. In response, the RAG-Stiftung has helped the Georg Agricola University of Applied Sciences in Bochum to create the “Centre of Research for Post-mining Activities” and established an endowed professorship for geoengineering and post-mining activities that is associated with the research centre, as well as a work-study programme leading to a master’s degree. Research projects focusing on the regulation of pit water are providing knowledge for the period after active mining in the Ruhr region is discontinued.
Some of the other research projects promoted by the RAG-Stiftung concentrate on other disciplines. For example, the History of the Ruhr Foundation is researching the history of education in mining regions, using the Ruhr region as an example.
PRESERVING A UNIQUE CULTURE
Beginning in 2019, active coal mining in Germany will only be a memory. However, its industrial culture will continue to be an integral part of society in the Ruhr and Saar coal-mining regions. To make sure it stays that way, the RAG-Stiftung is supporting projects that preserve the coal-mining heritage. For example, the foundation supports miners’ cultural events such as the annual feast of St. Barbara, the patron saint of miners, in the Saarland. In addition, it takes part in pioneering art and cultural events. Emscherkunst, the Ruhrtriennale and ExtraSchicht are formats that focus on the changing Ruhr region and its mining history. They have developed a powerful appeal that extends far beyond the borders of the Ruhr region.