Activists begin blockade of controversial German coal mine

Activists begin blockade of controversial German coal mine

Anti-coal activists in Germany began a blockade of a controversial brown coal mine on Saturday, occupying an excavator and a rail line connecting the mine to factories.

Organizers said thousands of environmentalists blocked a rail line connecting the mine to factories and other processing facilities by sitting on tracks. Police confirmed the blockade but gave no numbers.

Eight environmentalist had also climbed on top of an excavator, with another 30 activists blocking access to the digger as part of efforts to stop strip mining at the Hambach surface mine in western Germany.

The mine is located at Hambacher Forest, where nearly 3,900 acres of historic woodland, with protected animal species and centuries-old trees, have been felled for access to brown coal, prompting protests.

Police say they are expecting a major blockade of more diggers, as well as coal tracks and conveyor belts, over the weekend. “We’ll take care of it,” a police spokeswoman said.

The environmentalist group Ende Gelaende planning the blockade said more than 5,000 protesters were marching towards the mine.

Energy company RWE’s plans to cut down more than half of the remaining forest near the mine to dig up more coal were halted earlier in October by a court order to review endangerment of animals living in the forest.

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