National Mining Museum
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Iron ore mining in Luxembourg

1850-1870: First mines


Small mines are opened by local landowners and Luxembourgish and Belgian ironworks. The works themselves are located at a distance from the ore in Dommeldange, Steinfort, in Belgium or the Sarre region. Ore transport is by horse carts and later by the first railways.

1870-1914: Birth of a major industrial basin


Iron and steel works are built in the mining basin itself. The mines and works are increasingly international by their investors (Belgian and above all German) and their workforce (Italian, German). In 1906, an all-time record of 6875 miners are employed in Luxembourg. In 1913 the country is among the top ten producers of iron ore and pig iron in the world.

1914-1948: Crises and reorganization


The German firms leave the basin and are replaced by capital from Luxembourg and Belgium (ARBED 1911), France (HADIR 1920) and Belgium (MMR 1935). Two World Wars, an economic crisis in 1921 and the Great Depression of 1929 bring their lot of bankruptcies and unemployment. Miners and Workers organize into labor unions, through several strikes and manifestations they manage to obtain the first collective wage agreements in 1936.

1948-1965: Opencast mining and modernization


Mining machinery is introduced into the underground mines, but mining is increasingly done above ground in large open pit operations. Production record in 1957: 7.8 million tons.

1965-1981: Mining crisis followed by steel crisis


Non-profitable mines are shut down while the steelworks keep running on imported, less expensive, ore. The steel crisis (1975) hits the works as well and leads to the closure of the last remaining Luxembourgish mines (Thillenberg in Differdange, 1981). The Luxembourg government is forced to financially support ARBED, the only remaining steel company, which restructures its factories and closes the last iron ore mine on the Lorraine side of the border ("Terres-Rouges" in Audun-le-Tiche (F), 1997).