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No mining and no technological development without forests

When the first mining activities began several thousand years ago, the forest took on a whole new significance as a source of wood. Without it, mining and its development would not have been possible.

In the Middle Ages, mining was one of the biggest “wood eaters”, because wood was needed in all areas: To support the roadways and buildings when the rock was too unstable and threatened to collapse, for tools, for transport carts (Hunte), for ladders, called Fahrten in mining terms, for artificial wheels (water wheels) and much more.

The situation was no different above ground: All the dewatering was done with artificial wheels, troughs and pumps made of wood. The stamps with which the ores were crushed were made of solid wooden beams. And last but not least, the smelting furnaces in the ironworks were fired with charcoal. In the Harz mountains alone, up to 33,000 charcoal burners were in operation at times, pyrolysing wood into coal.

The forests in the mining regions of Europe were commercial forests and bare slopes were early evidence of the mining industry’s immense hunger for wood. The weal and woe of mining depended directly on the availability of wood in the surrounding area, because exporting wood from other regions was costly and expensive, therefore mostly unprofitable.

Without mining, however, the entire development of technology in many areas would hardly have been possible, because ores and metals were needed everywhere. Without mined raw materials, our modern life would be unthinkable, because smartphones, tablets or computers alone require, for example, mined rare earths.

Even if wood plays a subordinate role in mining today: Industrial wood is one of the largest sectors in the wood market; at the turn of the millennium alone, 1.6 billion cubic metres of wood were consumed worldwide, and the trend is expected to rise to three billion tonnes by 2050.

SIGNATURE by Dianium Residence

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EDITION 3 - 2022

Read now the fifth issue of SIGNATURE by Dianium Residence magazine.



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