Vereinigt Zwitterfeld zu Zinnwald Mine


Historical records of ore mining in the Ore Mountains begin in 1168, when silver ores were discovered in the vicinity of today's Freiberg. More than 800 years of mining history of the Ore Mountains are based on this discovery.

Vereinigt Zwitterfeld zu Zinnwald mine was exploited from the 15th century onwards, and large mine workings such as the Reichtroster Weitung (stope) and the Schwarzwänder Weitung (cavity) are preserved underground structures that document the mining technologies of the 18th and 19th centuries, the greisen deposits mined using fire-setting and gunpowder. The workings were drained by several adits of which the most important was the Tiefer Bünau adit started in 1686 to drain and access the Zinnwald deposit (known as the ‘lifeline’ of the Zinnwald mining district). The lower situated Tiefe Hilfe Gottes adit was advanced from 1840 in order to make Zinnwald’s mines deeper. By 1868, the adit had reached a length of around 1,800 m, and served to drain the water from Zinnwald’s mining on the Saxon side, until mining ceased in 1945.

Around 1900, tungsten and lithium mining flourished leading to a fundamental modernisation of the old Zinnwald mining installations by 1910. Lithium mica (scientifically the mineral species is zinnwaldite, the Type Locality being Zinnwald) was the only economically usable lithium mineral in Germany but occurred prolifically in all tin-tungsten veins and was an essential component in the greisen. The plant was expanded between 1915 and 1917 and underground mining operations and processing work was mechanised and electrified. The operational, administration and residential buildings whose typical style still defines the townscape today were erected in Zinnwald under Dresden architect Max Herfurt.

The mine is publicly accessible and its preserved underground workings provide excellent examples of stoping methods used in the 16th and subsequent centuries together with a range of structural geological and mineralogical exposures that reveal the nature of the tin deposit and the way it was exploited.