According to DEBRIV – the federal German association for all lignite producing companies and their affiliated organisations – the lignite industry employed 22,082 people during 2013 including 1,500 trainees and approximately 5,700 workers in the lignite power plants.
According to the association the lignite industry contributes to securing 85,000 jobs in Germany.
Apart from Vattenfall, RWE, LMBV, MIBRAG, ROMONTA and EON are also active within the German lignite industry.
Five open cast mines
The German Lusatia region consists of parts of the federal states of Brandenburg and Saxony. 5,700 of the total of 8,200 employees within Vattenfall's Lignite & Mining business unit, live in Brandenburg and 2,500 in Saxony.
670 trainees are also employed within BU Mining & Generation.
Vattenfall's lignite – 63.6 million tonnes in 2013 - is mined at five open cast mines: Jänschwalde, Cottbus-Nord, Welzow-Süd, Nochten and Reichwalde.
Vattenfall is in an advanced stage of planning for extending the Welzow-Süd and Nochten open cast mines.
The company also has plans for another three new open cast mines to be taken into operation after 2025.
Three power plants
The lignite is combusted at three power plants that are located close to the Jänschwalde, Boxberg and Schwarze Pumpe.
Vattenfall is the sole operator and owner of lignite mines in the German part of Lusatia.
Besides Lusatia and the mid-German mining district close to Leipzig, lignite is mined in another three German regions: in western Germany, close to Cologne, Aachen and Mönchengladbach, in Saxony-Anhalt and in the vicinity of the city of Helmstedt in Lower Saxony.
Business Unit Lignite & Mining also incorporates a refining plant at Schwarze Pumpe, which, among other things produces lignite briquettes, pulverized lignite, technical services for opencast mines and power plants and centralised administrative and technical functions
Vattenfall's lignite powered plants generated 57.2 TWh electricity in 2013 and 3.5 THw heat. Vattenfall's total electricity generation amounted to 181.7 TWh in 2013 and 30.2 THw heat.
Lignite's share of the gross production of electricity in Germany has been at a stable level of 25 per cent for the last 15 years. The country's lignite fired power stations generated a total of 161 TWh in 2013.
Last year Vattenfall's electricity generated from lignite amounted to a tenth of the total electricity generation in Germany.
Lower carbon dioxide emissions
The attempt to find a new ownership structure for Vattenfall's lignite operations is seen as a part of the strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 65 million tonnes by 2020.
During 2013 Vattenfall's German operations emitted a total of 72.2 million tonnes of CO2 (this figure refers to the total German carbon dioxide emissions, not only from lignite).
Vattenfall emitted a total of 88.4 million tonnes of CO2 in 2013.
DEBRIV:s webpage (in German and English)
Facts on Vattenfall and lignite in Lusatia
The first lignite deposits were found in Lusatia in 1789 and coal mining for industrial use started in 1844.
By the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 a total of 108,000 people were employed at lignite plants and mines. Twelve years later, 8,275 people were employed by Vattenfall's Lignite business unit.
In 2001 HEW (Hamburger Electricitäts-Werke), a Vattenfall subsidiary, purchased a majority of the shares in VEAG (Vereinigte Energiewerke) which at that time owned the lignite power plants in Lusatia.
In 2002 VEAG merged with HEW, LAUBAG (Lausitzer Braunkohle Aktiengesellschaft) and BEWAG (Berliner Städtische Elektrizitätswerke Aktiengesellschaft) to form Vattenfall Europe.
The history and heritage of Vattenfall