BERLIN, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- Germany on Friday closed its last black coal mine of Prosper-Haniel mine in the northern region of Ruhr, marking the end of an over 150-year-old industry.
At the closing ceremony, miners handed a symbolic last lump of coal to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Alongside Steinmeier, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and North Rhine-Westphalia's prime minister Armin Laschet also attended the ceremony.
However, the closure of the last mine does not immediately end the use of coal in Germany. For power generation and for steel mills, German coal will be replaced entirely by imported coal. This year, hard coal accounted to 13 percent of German electricity generation.
In 2007, the German government, the coal states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Saarland as well as the mining union IG BCE had agreed to end hard coal mining in the country. Back then, the German coal industry employed around 33,000 staff in coal mines.
Currently, there are still 3,500 miners employed in Germany's coal business. Special early retirement regulations ensured that the number of workers could be decreased without sacking the affected staff.
Black coal mines once dominated the surrounding of Ruhr region, employing up to half a million people at their peak in the 1950s, but have since been in decline.