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As of May 15, Leag will no longer be able to mine lignite at the Jänschwalde open pit mine

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As a result of a dispute over groundwater, the operator of the open pit mine Leag warns of negative consequences for the region’s energy supply. The energy company is to temporarily stop lignite mining at the Jänschwalde opencast mine in Brandenburg from May 15. The Cottbus administrative court decided on March 16, as the company announced on Thursday. Consequently, the open pit mine will only be able to operate as before until May 14. First, the RBB had reported.

The background is a legal dispute between the German Environmental Aid (DUH) and the State Office for Mining, Geology and Natural Resources (LBGR). This is the legal approval of the open pit mine, which is based on a water law permit from March 1996.

The German Environmental Aid (DUH) and the Green League had criticized a “drastic” dewatering at the pit and had taken legal action against the open cast lignite mine with an urgent request to suspend the mine’s main operating plan to open sky.

Because, according to the investigation of the two environmental organizations, the Leag group has been extracting significantly more groundwater for the operation of the open-pit mine for years than is allowed. Between 2017 and October 2021, a total of 240 million cubic meters of water are said to have been illegally withdrawn. [lesen Sie mehr bei Tagesspiegel Plus]. This corresponds to more than six times the amount of water in the Müggelsee. Environmentalists spoke of a “black building”.

The administrative court followed the urgent request, said lawyer Dirk Teßmer, who legally represents the environmental associations, of the German Press Agency. “The open pit mine does not have the water permit it needs to drain the groundwater,” says Teßmer. The associations argued that a major operating plan should only be approved and implemented if it had all the permits. However, there is no permit for the extraction of so much water. No comment was initially available from the court.

Ukraine war: Leag warns of consequences for security of supply

The suspension that has now been ordered is apparently due to a procedural matter: According to Leag’s notice, the administrative court has decided that the associations’ objection to the main operating plan from May 15 should also lead to a postponement. permission to exploit the open pit mine. Therefore, the group must stop coal mining.

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However, due to “geotechnical safety”, groundwater pumping must continue unabated, Leag said at the same time. Part of the workforce will remain in Jänschwalde for security operations, while the remaining employees will be distributed to other open pit mines.

The company said it would review the decision and possibly file an appeal. Leag mining board member Phillipp Nellessen complained of “far-reaching consequences” for the security of electricity and heat supply, especially in the context of the Ukraine war. In view of the current tense situation on the energy markets with constantly rising energy prices, it is very important to stop coal mining in Jänschwalde.

Furthermore, Leag’s council also sees “serious effects on nature and structural development in the region”. Because the stoppage could mean that the future design of the mining landscape would have to be completely replanned and approved, the company said. This “scenario” would even mean that even more groundwater would have to be pumped, because the new planning and approval processes could take five years. “In this period we would have to raise around 500 million cubic meters of water, which we would like to avoid,” Nellessen was reported as saying.

An open pit mine cannot be done without lowering the groundwater level. Groundwater rises and drains away. This means that the water table is also lowering in the open pit mining area. To the north of the Jänschwalde opencast mine are nature reserves, including wet meadows and Calpenzmoor. (with dpa)

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