"We get the best out of lignite"
The owners Cengiz (left) and Tarhan: Their products are exported to 70 countries, last year they achieved a turnover of 12 million euros. Photo: Edgar Schoepal
In the Rhenish mining district, Humintech processes lignite into fertiliser, industrial salts and animal feed.
The plant is located directly at an entrance to the Garzweiler opencast mine. It is only a few stone throws to the first excavator at the edge of the conveyor. However, some of the lignite waiting to be processed in the bunkers on the side of the road also comes from Hambach, where the dispute over the coal exit is currently making particularly big waves. But what elsewhere finds its way into the furnaces of the power stations and drives climate protectionists up the wall serves as a valuable raw material here. Humintech GmbH stands for another, CO2-free side of the lignite economy: products to improve soil fertility, salts for industrial applications, auxiliary materials for water treatment and soil remediation. Even animal feeds are produced here on the outskirts of Grevenbroich.
This is one of the reasons why the Hambach opencast mine comes into play. The heavily weathered and oxidized lignite, or Leonardite in the technical jargon, which Humintech uses for its feed additives, comes from its layers near the surface. This is a very pure material that contains only mini-mal traces of heavy metals. Additives slow down the leaching of nitrates into the groundwater, dampen the release of ammonia and reduce the emission of methane and nitrous oxide. Thus, lignite, which is proscribed as a climate killer, can even have beneficial effects on the atmosphere. And it can help to make the soil more fertile and protect the groundwater. This brings Tarhan to its most important pillar: substrates for soil improvement, which Humintech exports to 70 countries.