Inden opencast mine

The Inden opencast mine extends between the municipality of Aldenhoven and the A44 motorway (Düsseldorf-Aachen) in the north and the A4 (Cologne-Aachen) in the south, thus touching the administrative districts of Düren and Aachen.

22 million tons of lignite a year

With its annual output of some 22 million tons of lignite, the Inden opencast mine ensures the supply of the Weisweiler power plant. Its coal seams are up to 45m thick and as much as 230m below the Earth's surface. To extract the 510 million tons of coal still in the mining field, 1.6 billion m³ of overburden will have to be shifted.

More about Inden opencast mine

New riverbed emerged

To the north of Lamersdorf, the opencast mine in 2005 reached the former course of the Inde, the river that gave the township of Inden and, hence, the opencast mine, too, its name. As early as 1996, the creation of a new riverbed started as part of the mine’s recultivation. To the north of Lamersdorf the new Inde leaves its old riverbed and runs freely through a new, nearly 300-m-wide meadow on a stretch of about 12 km. To the south of Kirchberg, it reaches its old riverbed again shortly before flowing into the Rur river. This new section of the Inde thus replaces some five kilometres of the old, straightened course of the river. The entire new floodplain was planted with 400,000 trees and shrubs and additionally upgraded in ecological terms thanks to wild meadows, alternately humid and permanently humid areas and, in places, shallow riverbanks.

Local recreation area thanks to recultivation

Further to the west, near Eschweiler-Dürwiß, RWE Power AG has created the preconditions for Blausteinsee lake, measuring some 100 ha, by recultivating the former Zukunft-West opencast mine. It forms part of a 180-ha local recreation area which is structured by a cut through the landscape – the so-called Schlangengrabental valley. Filling the lake and its utilization are under the auspices of a special-purpose association consisting of the neighbouring towns and municipalities: Blausteinsee GmbH. Today already, Blausteinsee lake is a popular destination for water sport enthusiasts.

Indener See lake

After its exhaustion, meaning after 2030, the Inden mining field will not be completely backfilled with overburden and recultivated. Instead, planning calls for a lake measuring about 1,100 ha to be created in the eastern area between Lamersdorf, Kirchberg, Schophoven, Merken and Lucherberg. That was decided by the lignite commission of the Cologne regional government, a parliamentary body of representatives of the region, at the end of 2008. The lake is to be surrounded by forests, meadows and farmland and mainly filled with water from the Rur river over a period of 30 to 35 years. Very shortly after filling starts, the lake and its environs will permit a wide variety of uses. Probably around 2060, it will be available for unrestricted utilization.


With the "indeland" joint project, the region – which will be marked by the opencast mine for many years to come – is setting the scene early on for the time after lignite. By 2030, a large section of its surface will be completely re-shaped by the planned lake which the Inden opencast mine will leave behind after 2030 and which is at times humorously referred to as "Indean ocean" on account of its size. The region wishes to secure the surface for itself in good time with the planned structural development – also with a view to creating new jobs in the western mining area once lignite is gone. The symbol of the regional initiative is the so-called "Inde man", a viewing platform of steel and glass that is visible from afar and located near Inden-Lucherberg. RWE Power is working closely with partners in the region. The aim here is to strengthen the region's economic power, specifically by securing and developing jobs and by tapping innovative potentials with joint research and development.

Facts & Figures


Inden opencast mine (2017)
Size of the approved mining fieldha4,500
Operating surfacehaap. 1,710
Coal contentmill. tap. 260
Overburden-to-coal ratio3.5 : 1
Annual overburden removalmill. m³70 - 90 
Annual coal extractionmill. tap. 20


Bucket wheel excavators
Number of units113
Capacity ( m³ / day )60,00080,000110,000


Number of units4
Capacity ( m³ / day )110,000


Conveyor belts
Total lengthkm49


Total surfacehaap. 3,870
Rehabilitationhaap. 2,160
of which farmlandhaap. 1,795
of which foresthaap. 265
of which Other (paths, etc)haap. 100


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