Coal Mine Prosper Haniel IX – Moving Shields
In December 2018 Prosper Haniel, the last active coal mine of the Ruhr area, was closed down. Before the end “Sounds of Changes”-project worker Konrad Gutkowski had a last chance to document its disappearing sounds.
The coal mine in Bottrop was founded in 1856. Regular mining began in 1863 with about 60.000 tons of coal per year. Until 2016 it reached a depth of 1240 metres and mined 1.8 Million tons of coal per year. During the “Wirtschaftswunder” in the 1950s up to 12.000 coal miners worked at Prosper Haniel. Structural change and the decline of coal mining began in the late 1960s. Due to high production costs in Germany coal has been increasingly imported from China, India and the USA. One after the other the coal mines in the Ruhr area were closed down.
The face within a mine is where the coal is extracted from a coal seam. Each longwall face has a technical set-up of face conveyor, coal plough or shearer and steel shields that support the walls and ceilings of the tunnel.
Whenever the tunnel and the crew move further into the coal seam, the shields are moved. Like most underground-mining technology the shields are run by hydraulics. This is a recording of a shield moving forwards. In the process stones falling into the opening space behind the shield can be heard. This is accompanied by the creaking of the moving steel construction and the rushing of the hydraulics.
Sound: Jens Meißburger
Photo and Video: Jochen Balke (Sirius Images)