Hambach mine site | RWE
Hambach mine site | RWE


Hambach mine

The Hambach opencast mine is located between Jülich in the Düren district and Kerpen (Rhein-Erft district) in the heart of the Rhenish lignite mining area. Mining started in 1978 near the Hambach district of Niederzier. At peak times, the opencast mine, which is up to 411 metres deep, produced so much lignite for the company's own power plants that it covered five per cent of Germany's total electricity demand.

In 2029, coal extraction in the Hambach opencast mine will end as part of the statutory coal phase-out. Several major regional planning, mining law and water management approval procedures are currently underway. They will determine how the landscape, characterised by a large lake and forest, will look like which the opencast mine will leave behind. For example, the Hambach lignite mining plan is currently being amended. In a few weeks, a planning approval procedure will begin that will decide on the design of the opencast lake in detail. At the same time, another lignite plan procedure will secure the route for the outlet of the future opencast reservoir.

Facts and figures

Hambach mine (as of end of 2021)

00 km²

Operating area

00 million m³

Overburden capacity (per year)

00 million tonnes

Coal output (per year)



Number of bucket wheel excavators

110 - 00 m³/day

Bucket wheel excavator capacity


Number of spreaders

150 - 00 m³/day

Spreader capacity

00 km

Total length of conveyors


00 km²

Land use

00 km²

Recultivated area

00 km²

of which agricultural

00 km²

of which forestry

Recultivation: leisure destination Sophienhöhe

Another visible landmark of the mine is the Sophienhöhe hill, covered in woodland and towering over the flat plains with an elevation of 200 metres. It is made up with some of the spoil from mining. The spoil tip was established and reforested from 1978 onwards and since then, over 10 million trees have been planted there. Hikers and recreational sports enthusiasts enjoy the 120 kilometres of trails in the completely car-free area, which has been popular from day one. The biodiversity here has been proven to be very high. In addition to the reforestation and agricultural recultivation, the mine will also leave behind a hollow for a 40 km2 lake once its operations have ceased. Over a period of many decades, it will be filled with rising groundwater and with water from the River Rhine via a pipeline. In the event of any environmental impact resulting from the Hambach mine, please use our citizens’ helpline. 

Recultivation Sophienhöhe
Recultivation Sophienhöhe

You might also be interested in

Garzweiler mine

A traditional mining region

Read more

Inden mine

20 million tonnes of lignite per year

Read more

Water management

Water management in RWE mines

Read more