The motivation for this project is very personal.
My grandfather was a coal miner in Limburg, a province in the south of the Netherlands where there used to be a thriving coal mining industry. In the sixties the Dutch government decided to close the mines, which had become unprofitable after the discovery of gas. I grew up with the heroic stories of the coal mines, without ever seeing a working one.
In 2001 I decided to travel to Poland, where mines are still operational.
I wanted to taste history. Poland was a logical choice: it’s relatively close to the Netherlands and many Poles used to work in Dutch mines.
Later on I also visited colliery’s in Ukraine, South Africa and Inner Mongolia in China.
In all these countries the similarities between miners are striking: they are hard working, underpaid but nevertheless fearless and driven by a strong sense of solidarity.