The coal mines: Limburg’s ‘black gold’

A collection of the Nederlands Fotomuseum

Nico Jesse, Coal hewer, Oranje Nassau Mines, Heerlen (1952-1953)

The Dutch mining industry in the years 1939-1973 documented by thirteen photographers in nearly 2,000 images.
Between 1960 and 1980, almost all the mine buildings were torn down and the slagheaps (mining waste) disappeared. As a result, few tangible reminders of the mining industry remain to be seen in the province of Limburg. Thanks to the photos included in the collection of the Dutch Photography Museum, we are able to look back on the industrial past of the province.

Coal mining dominated the economy of the south of Limburg for more than 75 years. Towards the end of the 1950s, almost 60,000 men worked in twelve Limburg mines. The mining area was indebted to the ‘black gold’ for a long period of prosperity. However, starting in the 1960s, coal production declined as petroleum and natural gas became more common for heating and cooking. The coal mines were shut down in the 1960s and 70s, which had serious consequences for employment figures in this Dutch province.

Examples from this collection The coal mines: Limburg’s ‘black gold’

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