How did people start mining

Mining in Baden and Württemberg

Reinhard Güll

Germany and thus also Baden-Württemberg belong to the classic European mining countries. Mining is an industry that has left many traces in German regional history. From the late Middle Ages to the turn of the modern era, ore and salt mining dominated. Then the triumphant advance of hard coal mining began until the 1960s. The geology of Germany, the territory between the North and Baltic Sea coasts and the Alps, with the landscape formations of the North German Plain, the low mountain range of the German low mountain range, the southern German layer level country and the Alpine foothills as well as the Upper Rhine Rift, is comparatively complex. Each of these large natural regions has or had typical raw material deposits with at least historical economic importance due to their geological conditions.

Mining in Germany has been around since the 8th century BC. BC and was operated with strongly varying intensity until the Middle Ages. It began with the Celtic extraction of iron and copper ores and salt. There are enough archaeological finds on the territory of what is today Baden-Württemberg. The first traces of ore smelting date back to the early Iron Age around 600 BC. BC back. The Celts mined the ore veins lying on the surface in so-called "Mollkauten" (excavations directly on the surface). For that time they had an astonishing knowledge of the mining industry and built small furnaces near the mining sites for smelting. In 1978 a Celtic princely grave mound was rediscovered in Hochdorf near Ludwigsburg, which had remained untouched for thousands of years. The burial chamber with its splendid furnishings can be viewed today in the Hochdorf Celtic Museum in the Ludwigsburg district. It shows extraordinary exhibits of the Celtic ore processing in the area of ​​today's Baden-Württemberg. The mining and trading of salt also brought the Celts a lucrative business. Salt production has been traceable in many regions of the world since ancient times. Presumably, table salt had a place in people's culture from an early age. The Sumerians and Babylonians used salts to preserve food. Salt was in great demand and rare in certain regions. In prehistoric times it was transported on salt roads from the places of manufacture to the low-salt regions. How valuable table salt was can be seen from the designation "white gold". The word "salary" also comes from the payment of wages or salaries in the form of salt. After the Celts, what is now Baden-Württemberg was followed by an intensive phase of Roman mining, which was largely forgotten in the centuries that followed.

With a few exceptions, today's Baden-Württemberg is relatively insignificant in terms of mining. That was not always the case, because there was a large mining area in the Black Forest. The intensive fracture tectonic stress on the Black Forest basement and overburden over the past 250 million years has led to the emergence of numerous ore and mineral veins, which were the main target of mining in the past millennium. Mining in the Black Forest is probably even older - archaeological finds from the Stone Age at the Isteiner Klotz near Kleinkems show above all numerous fragments of flint and jasper. From this one can conclude that there was mining on jasper here during the Neolithic Age.

Mining in the Black Forest began to flourish in the 10th and 11th centuries AD. The mining of silver in the southern Black Forest reached its peak in the Middle Ages. Mines in Breisgau were first mentioned in a document in 1028 in a fiefdom letter from Konrad II to the Bishop of Basel. Mainly lead ores containing silver were mined. Mining resulted in new cities and castles, and mining made the dukes of Zähringen the most influential ruling dynasty on the Upper Rhine. In the 15th century, however, the heyday of medieval mining came to an end. Often the pits were no longer profitable or were destroyed by disasters. Mismanagement and environmental pollution also contributed to the fact that mining was no longer of importance in the Black Forest. At the beginning of the 16th century, mining came to a complete standstill. After the Thirty Years War, mining in the southern Black Forest only recovered slowly. In the 18th century, some mines started operating again and in some areas it continued into the 20th century. This includes hard coal mining near Berghaupten and Diersburg.

In the middle of the 19th century the mining of heavy and fluorspar became very important in the Black Forest. The Clara mine near Oberwolfach, which has been in operation for over 150 years, is still to be regarded today as the most important German river and barite mine. The pit is known because over 375 different minerals have been found here, including some very rare ones. The processing plant is located near Wolfach-Kirnbach in the Kinzigtal. In total, over 3 million tons (t) of barite and over 2 million tons of fluorspar have been mined in the Clara mine since 1898. Barite is used, among other things, for soundproofing, radiation protection and in the deep drilling industry. Fluorspar, also known as fluorite, is used in the metal industry as a superplasticizer, for example in welding electrodes, in the glass and ceramics industry and in the chemical industry for the production of hydrofluoric acid.

Uranium was also extracted in the Black Forest. A total of 100,000 t of uranium ore was mined in Menzenschwand, from which around 720 t of uranium was extracted.1 In the Statistical Yearbook for the Grand Duchy of Baden 1900, there is not much left of this former boom in mining in the Black Forest (see Figure 1). At the end of the 19th century there were still five mining operations that extracted ores.

In the Kingdom of Württemberg, ore mining was not as broad as in Baden (see Figure 2). There were iron ore deposits in some areas of the eastern Swabian Alb, mainly in the form of pebble ore. Floor ore is an iron ore with a relatively high iron content of up to 76%. It consists of pea- or bean-shaped, often concentric-shell bulbs made of brown iron stone. In Braunenberg in the eastern part of the Swabian Alb on the beach edge of the former Jurassic Sea, sedimentation of brown iron granules in the iron sandstone formation in the area around Aalen created two minable seams. The two seams in the Brown Jurassic were 1.4 m thick in the upper seam and 1.7 m in the lower seam. The iron content was about 21% to 42% in the upper and 26% to 31% in the lower. In Wasseralfingen, today part of the municipality of Aalen, the iron ore seams in the Braunenberg were mined profitably in the iron ore mine of Wilhelm I until the beginning of the 20th century. Since there were enough resources for smelting on site with the stove and the surrounding forests, a steelworks was put into operation as early as 1671. By 1860 the plant had become one of the largest and most important in Europe and was given the title "Main Foundry of the State of Württemberg". Since the ore had to be transported into the valley, the first cog railway in Germany was built in 1876. From 1608 to 1939 iron ore was mined there with short interruptions. The underground tunnel labyrinth grew up to 6 km during this time.

In 1816 a rock salt deposit was discovered for the first time in Central Europe through a drilling in Jagstfeld in the Heilbronn area at a depth of 150 m. A wealth of salt that was unique for the time has been demonstrated here. In 1817, King Wilhelm I of Württemberg granted permission to sink a shaft in addition to the building permit for a salt works in neighboring Friedrichshall. The salt works went into operation in the same year. Due to a water ingress, one had to limit oneself to the extraction by brine evacuation. In 1859 salt mining could begin.

In 1881 the first Heilbronn salt with a thickness of 11.7 m was encountered during a drilling initiated by the city of Heilbronn at a depth of 167.5 m. As early as 1885, rock salt was mined in Heilbronn for the first time next to Jagstfeld on December 4th. In the years 1886 to 1887 Heilbronn began with the construction of a salt mill, the construction of a salt works and a salt works Neckar port. In 1888, 69,500 t of rock salt and 25,000 t of vacuum salt were sold within one year. In 1895, the rock salt extraction in Jagstfeld had to be given up after the breakage of some salt piers and a subsequent flooding. As an alternative, a new mine was put into operation in neighboring Kochendorf for rock salt extraction. The König Wilhelm II shaft, located directly next to Jagstfeld, reached the salt store at a depth of 180 m with a thickness of 25 m.

As early as 1899, the salt works became the city of Heilbronn's largest taxpayer. New investments followed, so a salt smelter was built in 1910. At that time it was unique in Germany and liquefied the salt at temperatures of around 800 ° Celsius in order to free it from undesirable additions. On the initiative of the Royal Württemberg Treasury, the Schwaben shipping company was founded in 1918 as the first shipping company on the Neckar. At that time, the focus was on solving the transport problem of salt mining in the lowlands in connection with the expansion of the Neckar as a major shipping route. Rock salt mining also boomed in both mines in the next few decades up to the Second World War. In the period after that, in 1950, the salt works offered small packaging for the household in 500 g units for the first time. In addition, table, curing and industrial salt were also marketed in sack packs of 50 kg. On January 18, 1984, with the breakthrough of the connecting line, the previously independent rock salt mines Heilbronn and Kochendorf were united. Since 2006, the Heilbronn rock salt mine, which has since become the largest in Western Europe, has been using a continuous miner in addition to drilling and blasting, with which salt can now also be extracted by cutting.

In what is now Baden-Württemberg, in addition to rock salt mining in the Heilbronn area, there is another considerable rock salt mining site in Stetten in the Zollernalb district. Their history is also worth mentioning. In 1850 the two principalities of Hohenzollern-Hechingen and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen came to the Kingdom of Prussia. The Prussian government soon felt compelled to search for mineral resources in the newly acquired areas of Hohenzollern. In 1853, during a test drilling in the Stetten area, a salt deposit was found at a depth of 123 m, which at this point had a total thickness of 8.8 m. Work on a shaft began at the beginning of 1854, and rock salt mining began a few years later. The original task of the salt mine was to supply the population in the two Hohenzollers' principalities with table salt. Even today, an average of 500,000 tons of salt are mined there every year. The mine is currently designed for a maximum output of 10,000 t / day. The residents of the two former principalities are no longer supplied with this salt. The product range of the salt works today mainly comprises chemical salt and de-icing salts.

According to the statistics of the manufacturing industry, mining and quarrying in Baden-Württemberg, there were a total of 1,912 employees in the mining and quarrying industry in 2016. A differentiated designation is not possible for reasons of confidentiality. The information from the State Office for Geology, Raw Materials and Mining is somewhat more detailed, according to which there are currently over 200 mining companies in Baden-Württemberg. Six mines extract rock salt, gypsum and anhydrite, limestone, fluorspar and barite underground. The largest mine is still the rock salt mine in Heilbronn with around 600 employees.

1 Compare mining in the Black Forest: (accessed: August 29, 2017).