Bad Mines, Good Money - The Coal Industry’s Dirty Deals | DocFilm | DW | 23.04.2014
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Bad Mines, Good Money - The Coal Industry’s Dirty Deals

Phasing out nuclear power means that Germany's demand for coal is still immense. A large part of the coal it uses is now being imported from abroad, but mining is still causing massive environmental damage elsewhere.

The nuclear phase-out is a done deal and Germany is again fully reliant on coal – right in the midst of a fierce debate about renewable energies and climate change. The big German power companies already import about 75 percent of their coal from abroad – a figure that will soar to 100% when the last German mines close in 2018. But where exactly does the coal that is burned in Germany come from?


Colombia: ruined landscapes and cleared rainforest and villages where the residents have been displaced.

This documentary follows the supply chain from the mines to the power plants, from Bogotá in Colombia to Amsterdam, from Baltimore in the United States to Hamburg. It shows the often degrading conditions the coal – including coal for the German market – is mined in. There’s a widespread suspicion that “blood coal” from overseas is ending up in German power plants. When we turn on our hair dryers or the washing machines, does that cause suffering to people elsewhere?


In the open cast mines of the Appalachian Mountains in the United States, entire mountain peaks are blasted away and dumped into the adjacent valleys.

Coal mines in the United States and Colombia are apparently causing serious damage to the environment and bringing huge suffering to the local population. Rivers poisoned, mountains blown apart, communities displaced and trade unionists murdered – how aware of this are Germany’s energy suppliers and to what extent do they bear responsibility themselves?

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