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SOURCE: Reuters

DATE: August 13, 2018

SNIP: Immerath, once a small village of 1,200 in Germany’s western frontier, host to both farms and industry, has fallen quiet.

Roughly 1.3 billion tons of lignite – a soft coal – were discovered long ago under the village and its surrounding land in Germany’s North Rhine Westphalia state. Few locals took the threat seriously, so life continued until development of the mine became reality and villages were lined up for destruction.

Immerath is one of the last to make way for the expansion of Garzweiler opencast mine, which is run by giant German energy provider RWE, supplying one third of Germany’s overall power.

Once Garzweiler is finished, 20 villages will have gone.

“Our expectation is that Garzweiler will be open until the middle of the century,” RWE press officer Guido Steffen told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Germany is making radical changes, but even in the long run, in order to provide energy, we can’t forgo conventional power plants.”

RWE, Europe’s top emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2), admits lignite is cheap to produce, but harmful for the environment.