Ellweiler Menzenschwand Muellenbach Maehring Poppenreuth Schirmberg Großschoppen Weißenstadt Koenigstein Seelingstaedt Crossen Dresden-Gittersee Poehla Ronneburg Schlema Wismut

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Uranium Mining
in Germany


Ellweiler
Type: Uranium processing to yellow cake
Operator: Gewerkschaft Brunhilde (Niedersachsen)
Name: Uranium processing Ellweiler
Start of operation: 1961
Closing down: 1989
Tailings: 170.000 t radioactive sludge. Direct radiation at the fence (in the year 1980): 1095 mrem/a (10.95 mSv/a), ten times higher than natural radiation.
Status: closed
Public sponsorship: 6.9 million German Marks had the tay payer for the restoration of the illegal tailings to pay – after the company got bankrupt.
Comments: It was the only company in West Germany, who produced yellow cake. The Company was closes on May 31st 1989 cause its illegal tailings.

Menzenschwand
Type: uranium mine
Operator: Gewerkschaft Brunhilde (Niedersachsen)
Name: Mine Krunkelbach
Start of operation: 1961
Closing down: 1989
Total output: 100.000 t uranium ore,
Share of uranium: 0,72 percent
Tailings: 15.000 t – 20.000 t were brought to Kunckelbach. Direct radiation: 100 mSv/a
Status: closed
Public sponsorship: 13.6 million euro from Federal Government (research budget), 5.2 million euro from Ministry of Economics Baden-Württemberg, 1 million closing costs from Land government Baden-Württemberg
Comments: The degradation of rock was partially backfilled in the mine. Also material was used by the forestry offices for road construction.

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Muellenbach
Type: uranium mining
Operator: Saarberg-Interplan Uran GmbH, today: Saarberg-Interplan GmbH Industrieanlagenbau
Name: Mine Kirchheimerstollen
Start of operation: 1973
Closing down: 1982
Total output: 30 t uranium
Share of uranium: 0,2 percent
Tailings: in Müllenbach- and Sauersboschvalley
Status: closed
Public sponsorship: 1.25 million euro from the Land government Baden-Württemberg
Comments: The mine was closes cause it was uneconomical.

Maehring (Tirschenreuth)
Type: uranium mining
Operator: Company Unruh in order of Gewerkschaft Brunhilde
Name: Mine Wäldel
Start of operation: 1967
Closing down: 1982
Tailings: 13,000 tons, direct radiation: 20 mSv/a
Status: closed
Comments: After Gewerkschaft Brunhilde got bankrupt in 1990, the Government of Bavaria had to restore the area.

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Poppenreuth (Tirschenreuth)
Type: uranium mining
Operator: Company Unruh in order of Gewerkschaft Brunhilde
Name: Mine Höhenstein
Start of operation: 1977
Closing down: 1982
Status: closed
Comments: After Gewerkschaft Brunhilde got bankrupt in 1990, the Government of Bavaria had to restore the area. 1992-1993: Demolition, decommissioning, backfilling the pit with cement. The site is now over grown with grass, so there is no sign of the former mining.

Schirmberg
Type: uranium mining
Controlling institution: Ministry of Economics Bavaria
Name: Mine Schirmberg
Start of operation: only Exploration
Tailings: Tailing Schirmberg: 750 t, Direct radiation: 60 mSv/a
Status: closed

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Großschoppen (Wunsiedel)
Type: uranium mining
Operator: Esso Erz, later Saarberg Interplan Uran GmbH; since 1988 COGEMA
Name: Mine Christa
Start of operation: 1980
Closing down: 1989
Tailings: Mine Christa, 400 t, direct radiation: 80 mSV/a
Status: closed
Comments: The mine was closes cause it was uneconomical.

Weißenstadt (Wunsiedel)
Type: uranium mining
Operator: Esso Erz, later Saarberg Interplan Uran GmbH; since 1988 COGEMA
Name: Mine Christa
Start of operation: 1949
Closing down: 1960
Tailings: Maximilianshütte, 15.000 t Zinngranit Ra-226: 4,1 Bq/g
Status: closed
Public sponsorship: In 1956 2.2 million German Marks from the Federal Ministry for Atomic Questions.
Comments: As early as 1949 the industrialist Friedrich Flick started searching for uranium, although this was the Germans banned by the Allies. The Friedrich Flick KG, which also included the Maxhütte in Sulzbach-Rosenberg , opened in the 50s the pit Werra. The work ran under the name “tin ore – examination operation Weißenstadt/Fichtelgebirge ” with the support of the Minister of Atomic Questions Franz-Josef Strauß. The mine was closes cause it was uneconomical.

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Koenigstein
Type: uranium mine
Operator: SDAG Wismut (1947-1954 owned by the Soviet Republic, 1954-1989 owned by the Soviet Union and the GDR), since 1991: Wismut AG (owned by Federal Republic of Germany)
Name: Mine Königstein
Start of operation: 1961
Closing down: 1989
Total output: 9 Mio. m³ rocks, including 5 Mio m³ uranium ore,
uranium hauling: 18,606 t (12,251 t conventional, 5,775 t with underground leaching)
Tailings: until 1990 there were 55 million tons of rocks are contaminated with sulfuric acid;
Public sponsorship: 1 billion euro from Federal Republic of Germany for the restauration of the area and the mine Königstein: For example: Removal of contaminated soil; treatment of ascending water flooding the pit Koenigstein; the uranium was largely separated and then the remaining pollutants, such as radium, residual uranium and heavy metals had to be removed.
Comments: From the mid-60s the dump material was removed for gravel extraction, sold in East Germany and, for example, it was used for the construction of the Rostock international port. End of restauration: 2026.

Seelingstaedt
Type: Uranium processing to yellow cake
Operator: SDAG Wismut (1947-1954 owned by the Soviet Republic, 1954-1989 owned by the Soviet Union and the GDR), since 1991: Wismut AG (owned by Federal Republic of Germany)
Name: Uranium processing Seelingstädt
Start of operation: 1961
Closing down: 1996.
Total output: 108.8 million t uranium ore were processed to 86,273 t yellow cake – produced for the USSR.
Tailings: 1990 were distributed to 16 dumps approximately 188 million cubic meter of tailings, scattered in an area of 1670 hectar. Covering an area of 350 hectar camped in the two basins of the tailings Trünzig and the two basins of the sales facility Culmitzsch approximately 104 million cubic meter of tailings.
Comments: Actually, the restauration should be completed in 2015, now in 2023. From 1991 to 2006 produced the Wismut GmbH approximately 3,089 tonnes of uranium and sold it for approximately € 67 million. Until 2006 the FRG was still uranium producer.

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Crossen
Type: Uranium processing to yellow cake
Operator: SDAG Wismut (1947-1954 owned by the Soviet Republic, 1954-1989 owned by the Soviet Union and the GDR), since 1991: Wismut AG (owned by Federal Republic of Germany)
Name: Uranium processing Seelingstädt
Start of operation: 1951
Closing down: 1996.
Total output: 77 million t uranium ore were processed to 77,000 t yellow cake – produced for the USSR.
Tailings: Tailing Helmsdorf: 200 hectare, 50 million tons. Tailing Crossen: 22 hectare, 3.2 million cubic meter. 21.000 t radioactive contaminated scrap metal, 49.000 t radioactive contaminated rubbish.
Comments: the restauration should be completed in 2017. In 2012, approximately 787,000 m3 of water were loaded in the river Zwickauer Mulde.

Dresden-Gittersee
Type: uranium mine
Operator: SDAG Wismut (1947-1954 owned by the Soviet Republic, 1954-1989 owned by the Soviet Union and the GDR), since 1991: Wismut AG (owned by Federal Republic of Germany)
Name: Mine Königstein
Start of operation: 1947
Closing down: 1989.
Total output: 3,700 t uranium. Since the year 1542 there was coal mining in this area. The SDAG used the content of uranium in the coal and extracted the uranium. Until the year 1989, 4 million tons of coal were dismantled.
Tailings: Tailing Gittersee: 922,000 cubic meter without sealing; restoration between 2001 and 2006.
Comments: Gittersee is a district of Dresden, immediately adjacent to the peoples housings.

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Poehla
Type: uranium mine
Operator: SDAG Wismut (1947-1954 owned by the Soviet Republic, 1954-1989 owned by the Soviet Union and the GDR), since 1991: Wismut AG (owned by Federal Republic of Germany)
Name: Mine Pöhla
Start of operation: 1967
Closing down: 1990.
Total output: 1,700 t uranium. Pöhla produced less than 1 per cent of the uranium-production of the SDAG Wismut. Covering an area of 5.5 km2, a pit cavity of approximately 1 million m3 was generated.
Tailings: 4 tailings with a volume of 2 million m³.
Comments: The restauration was finished in 2008.

Ronneburg
Type: uranium mine
Operator: SDAG Wismut (1947-1954 owned by the Soviet Republic, 1954-1989 owned by the Soviet Union and the GDR), since 1991: Wismut AG (owned by Federal Republic of Germany)
Name: Mine Ronneburg with 3 open cast mines, 3 galleries, 40 open cast mine pits.
Start of operation: 1949
Closing down: 1990.
Total output: 113,600 t uranium. Covering an area of 73.4 km2, a pit cavity of about 27 million m3 and the opencast mine Lichtenberg with an open volume of 84 million m3 was generated.
Tailings: the opencast mine Lichtenberg with its open volume was fulfilled with all the radioactive materials that remains of the uranium mining. In Thuringia and Saxony remained 311 million cubic meter radioactive stony materials and 160 million cubic meters radioactive sludge.
Public sponsorship: Until 2013, the Federal Government of Germany paid for the restoration in the Wismut-Areas 6 billion euros. Until 2025 the restauration should be finished. But the leak water remains a problem für hundreds of years. Therefor the German Government calculated another 800 million euros until 2040.
Comments: In 2006, in a national horticultural show the Government showed the restored area of Ronneburg the national and international public as the “New Landscape of Ronneburg”.

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Schlema
Type: uranium mine
Operator: SDAG Wismut (1947-1954 owned by the Soviet Republic, 1954-1989 owned by the Soviet Union and the GDR), since 1991: Wismut AG (owned by Federal Republic of Germany)
Name: Mine Schneeberg – Schlema – Alberoda.
Start of operation: 1946. Since the 14th century commodities were extracted in Schneeberg: iron, tin, silver, cobalt ore, nickel, bismuth. Uranium was over centuries a useless waste product. Since the beginning of the 19th century, the resulting uranium ores were used for the manufacture of paints, later for medicinal purposes, for the food industry and as an illuminant. In September 1945 the USSR started to explore the area for uranium deposits.
Closing down: 1990.
Total Output: 80,000 t uranium. Covering an area of 73.4 km2, a pit cavity of about 27 million m3 and the opencast mine Lichtenberg with an open volume of 84 million m3 was generated.
Tailings: 42 mine heaps with a total volume of 45 million cubic meter on an area of 311 hectare. The Wismut GmbH is only for the remediation of 19 mine heaps responsible. 23 are closed before 1990: for example 1956 object 03 Schleeberg with 2 galleries, 1960 object 02 Oberschlema with 5 galleries.
Comments: Mining operation Aue – Object 09 Niederschlema – Aue – Alberoda – consisting of 9 tunnels, 21 shafts, 30 blind shafts over an area of 22 km2 was the largest mining operation of the SDAG Wismut. Shafts and dumps that were closed prior to 1990, were not part of the German unification treaty. Therefore, the Federal Government of Germany did not pay the restauration.

Wismut GmbH (Chemnitz)
Type: Restauration of the uranium processing facilities in Saxony and Thuringia
Operator: Wismut GmbH
Name: Mine Ronneburg with 3 open cast mines, 3 galleries, 40 open cast mine pits.
Start of operation: 1991
History: The SAG SDAG produced until Dec. 31st 1990 231,000 tones uranium. The GDR was after USSR, USA and Canada the fourth largest producer of uranium.
Tailings: 1991, on approximately 3,700 hectar there were contaminated radioactive dumps, tailings management and operational areas. In Thuringia and Saxony remained 311 million cubic meter radioactive stony materials and 160 million cubic meters sludge with radioactive materials and other harmful substances – the result of the processing of uranium yellowcake. The Wismut GmbH is only obliged by the Wismut-Law of Dec. 31st 1991 to restorate the facilities that were on June 30th 1990 owned by the SDAG. There are also about 1,900 industrial sites in Saxony, Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt for which no remediation obligations for the Wismut GmbH. These industrial sites are usually given back before 1962 by the SAG/SDAG Wismut to the communities.
Public sponsorship: Until 2013, the Federal Government of Germany paid for the restoration in the Wismut-Areas 6 billion euros. Until 2025, the restauration should be finished. But the leak water remains a problem für hundreds of years. Therefor the German Government calculated another 800 million euros until 2040.
Comments: The Federal Office for Radiation Protection has been realising a scientific study on the effects of uranium mining in the GDR. By 1990, lung cancer was diagnosed in 5492 Wismut-miners. By 2011, another 3696 were added. Furthermore, 17,251 Wismut-miners got a pneumoconiosis certified. To cancer and diseases of residents so far no one cares.