Coal Mine: Aerial Photography of the Largest Man-Made Holes in the World

When something is referred to as "Europe's biggest hole", it's not likely to be a pretty sight.

As the biggest Opencast Coal Mining Pit of Germany, the Hambach opencast mine sprawls across 85 square kilometres in Germany's Lower Rhine basin. Giant excavators mine lignite – aka brown coal – at a rate of up to 240,000 tonnes a day. That's about equal to a football stadium piled 30 metres high with coal.

For photographer Bernhard Lang, who shot a series of aerial photos of the mine in May, capturing Hambach from above was the key to conveying its scale. "Watching these huge machines biting into the barren landscape reminded me of alien planets in science fiction movies," Lang says. "It's a really direct image of the human impact on Earth."

Everything at the mine is at a giant scale: The machines inside, scooping out coal and moving around sand and dirt, are each the height of 30-story office buildings and twice as long as soccer fields.

The Hambach mine is expected to have exhausted its lignite reserves by 2040, at which point it will be converted into an artificial lake, filled with 4 billion cubic metres of water from the Rhine.

(All images cpoyrighted Bernhard Lang)

>> Gallery: Coal Mine

>> Photographer: Bernhard Lang

You Might Also Like
Playing Is My Right: Happy Life Belongs to EveryonePlaying Is My Right: Happy Life Belongs to EveryoneFor the present, in some part of Iran's villages, people are deprived of essential equipment for living like water, electricity to name a few. It is obviously clear that in this area ...
Iran Immortel: Ten Years Photo Project Showing Iran's Daily LifeIran Immortel: Ten Years Photo Project Showing Iran's Daily LifeThis photography project spans ten years of travels, and portrays the achievements of Humanity in this region of the world, focusing on all that is beautiful, noble and ingenious. In this blend of poetry ...
Afghanistan: The Color AwakensAfghanistan: The Color AwakensRecent decades have seen Afghanistan repeatedly bruised and brutalized—but today, its people struggle to brush away the dust of conflict and discover their homeland as it should appear: radiant with beautiful ...
Tehran, City of Hope and DespairTehran, City of Hope and DespairFollowing the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the United States imposed sanctions against Iran. In 2006, following discussions around the Iranian Nuclear Program, the US, UN and other Western nations expanded ...