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The coal preparation plant of Binche

The coal preparation plant of Binche

The most expensive building of Binche

The millions of euros of public money pumped into the renovation of the Binche coal preparation plant since 2008 are still not making any difference a decade later.

The PĂ©ronnes-les-Binche coal preparation plant was built in 1954 with the support of the Marshall Plan, an American aid plan to boost the European economy after the Second World War. The building swallowed around 3,000 tons of coal per day.


After just 15 years, in 1969, the "triage lavoir" was left unemployed due to the closure of the nearby Saint-Albert and Sint-Margriete coal mines. The concrete carcass has been empty for decades, and in 2000, it was even threatened with demolition.

The building wasn't knocked down. Instead, in 2005, the Walloon government developed a brand new Marshall Plan: 13 million euros was pumped into renovating the exterior of the coal preparation plant.

Everything seemed to be in order: the building would house a training center, an archaeological deposit, and scientific services of the federal government. Yet, half a century after its closure, the building is still empty.

Too expensive

Although the mastodon received new windows and a coat of fresh paint in 2008, the ambitious plans were buried due to the spiraling costs. For example, renovating the interior would cost another 30 million euros: who will pay for that?

Black hole

The newspaper l'Avenir compared how the building swallowed up public money with black holes in the universe that eat galaxies and delicately pointed out that the preparation plant could only be built in 1954 thanks to American money.

It is no coincidence that the coal preparation plant appears on the French-language Wikipedia of Great Useless Works.

All interior photos of the coal washing plant on this page date from 2006 (before the renovation works).

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