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  • Dear Readers!

    If truth be told, we had all been hoping that we would no longer have to talk about Covid by spring 2021. Who would have thought that we would be spending a second Easter and a second Ramadan with no end to the pandemic in sight? The longer this situation continues, the more difficult it is to maintain the public and personal discipline needed to fight the pandemic. People are weary. They are fed up with having to go from one lockdown to the next with there being no real prospects of life returning to normal. And while infection rates continue to rise no matter what restrictions are put in place, the country’s normally reliable federalist system is beginning to reveal some weaknesses. Is it really helpful that the measures taken to tackle this global threat are decided on at federal state level? On the other hand, why should public life grind to a halt in a sparsely populated region with a low two-figure infection rate just because the number of people catching the virus is rising exponentially in an area several hundred kilometres away? There are no simple answers but at least we are fortunate to have almost 27,000 ICU beds here in Germany and are better prepared for the situation than many other countries. However, being forced to focus almost entirely on treating Covid patients, hospitals are finding themselves in a difficult financial position – to say nothing of the huge and constant stress levels that the ICU healthcare professionals are having to cope with. At least the Covid measures have led to a dramatic decline in all other kinds of respiratory illnesses. Fortunately, the strict hygiene measures have meant that we have not had to deal with a flu epidemic this year.

    The world tends to view Germans as being both extremely organised and efficient. Some may be reconsidering their opinion, though, looking at the speed – or lack of speed – vaccinations are being rolled out. Which once again brings us back to the subject of using the private sector to deliver essential services. Here, too, many problems could have been prevented right from the start if politicians had taken up the help offered by the private sector to support the vaccination campaign. It can be assumed that an international online ticket seller, one able to sell millions of tickets for rock festivals or worldwide concert tours within just a few hours, would be able to organise online vaccination appointments faster and more efficiently than the overworked local health authorities with their outdated IT systems – and certainly without their website crashing or without them having to develop new software first. Such offers, however, have been taken up by just a few individual public health offices and then only belatedly.

    Are things running more smoothly in the circular economy? This latest issue of REMONDIS aktuell takes a closer look at the differences between rural districts and cities. It is, above all, the rural district authorities that turn to the private sector for help in providing a number of services – both in the circular economy as well as in the area of water and wastewater management. This approach not only promises to deliver the best services at sensible prices. It also has a major impact on how efficient their sustainability efforts actually are. With local authorities facing both an increased financial burden caused by the pandemic and an urgent need to renovate their infrastructure, it is well worth taking a closer look at the situation. 22% of local councillors believe that their local business tax revenue will be at least 10% lower in 2021 than it was in 2019. The majority of district and town councils, 64% to be precise, are planning to increase their local taxes and/or charges. There is certainly room for them to optimise their business operations in the area of cost-intensive key services, such as waste and water management, by systematically putting these services out to tender, extending their PPP arrangements or founding a new PPP company.

    We hope you enjoy reading this latest issue. Stay safe!

    Yours, Ludger Rethmann

The colliery spoil heap has been unused for 8 years

  • The Maybach colliery spoil heap is located in Friedrichsthal, in the very heart of the Saarland’s old mining region. For decades, any coal-free wall rock that was removed from the nearby Ensdorf and Maybach mines was deposited in this area. Eight years ago, however, the spoil heap became obsolete when the last mine in the Saar region closed down. Unused since then, there are now plans to repurpose the site – with REMEX’s help.

The goal: to recultivate the terrain

As with all former coal-mining sites in Germany, the Maybach spoil heap is supervised by the mining authorities. If this 12-hectare area is to be redeveloped and used for a different purpose, then the spoil heap must first be officially released by the mining authorities. This step, in turn, requires comprehensive measures to be undertaken regarding the final design and recultivation of the terrain – a project that was successfully started at the beginning of last year.

“We are really pleased to be able to give RAG the long-term support it needs to breathe new life into a former coal-mining site in the Saar region.”

Marcus Rautenberg, Managing Director REMEX SüdWest GmbH

1.8 million tonnes of material are needed

RAG is in overall charge of this undertaking and it has commissioned its real estate subsidiary RAG Montan Immobilien to manage this complex project. One of the first steps involves the delivery of around 1.8 million tonnes of mixed earth and minerals. This is an enormous volume and it is essential that there is a reliable supply of this material. Two strong partners have joined forces to make sure this happens: REMEX SüdWest GmbH from Karlsruhe and Homburger Alois OMLOR GmbH. These two firms are a great team as they have been working together in the region for many years now. Operating in the areas of material flow management and transport logistics for residual minerals, the companies handle several million tonnes of bulk materials every single year. A huge advantage, as far as RAG Montan Immobilien GmbH is concerned, as the supply and delivery of this earth is an essential prerequisite for preparing the land in accordance with the ‘BBergG’ [German Federal Mining Act] and, therefore, an integral part of the plan that must be drawn up to enable the site to be released from the supervision of the mining authorities.

Contributing towards the regeneration of the region

  • Everyone’s goal behind the repurposing of the Maybach spoil heap is to contribute towards the regeneration of the region. The foundations for this are being laid with the delivery of the mixed earth and minerals – a task that can take up to ten years. Beyond this, future plans for the site include a trading estate as well as a recreational area. What is important here is to find an attractive solution that suits the local region and not only creates economic benefits but – and above all – environmental ones as well.

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