The uranium ore mining carried out in the 20th century was driven by the atomic arms race of the Cold War. Mining was carried out at varying levels of intensity, from initial ruthless exploitation to the planned, centrally led mining operations from the 1950s onwards. The mining areas in the west of the Erzgebirge, including Johanngeorgenstadt, Aue, and Schlema, were of particular importance during this period. In addition to shaft complex 371 at Bad Schlema, the uranium mining period is documented by the heap landscape (including, among others, heap 366 near Aue), which has since been allowed to return to nature with the help of ecological restoration.

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  • Shaft Complex 371

    Shaft Complex 371 at Bad Schlema is one of the few uranium ore mining plants owned by SDAG Wismut that has largely been preserved. The surface installations constructed from 1956 onwards include the shaft building with a 50-metre-high steel head frame, the engine house with hauling engine, and a large function and administrative building. Mining in the world’s largest uranium vein reached a depth of more than 1,800 metres. The shaft complex, which employed up to 3,000 people, was therefore one of the deepest mines in Europe and provided more than 73,000 tonnes of uranium by 1990. The complex houses a remarkable geological collection of minerals.

  • Uranium Mining Heap Landscape

    In both its scope and its impact, the uranium mining carried out by SDAG/SAG Wismut exceeded all previous mining activities in the Erzgebirge. With the creation of large, contaminated waste heaps, the initially rampant and thoughtless exploitation of the resources available changed the landscape of the western Erzgebirge to a greater extent than ever before. After German reunification and the closure of the uranium mines in 1990, the company known today as Wismut GmbH became (and continues to be) responsible for cleaning up the aftermath of the uranium mining period in this area.

  • Markus Semmler adit

    Documentary evidence for the Markus Semmler adit dates back to 1503. It was originally opened near Oberschlema to mine copper. Later, it served the bismuth, silver, cobalt, and nickel mines all around Schneeberg. In the 19th century, the new adit mouth was built. It is dated to 1841 by the keystone on the construction. By the end of the 19th century, the adit extended over roughly 43 kilometres. During the second half of the 20th century, the adit was the first important exploration site used by SAG/SDAG Wismut in the search for uranium. It was used as a reference line for all deeper excavations. From 1946 onwards, a further 174 kilometres of mine workings were cut at roughly the level of the Markus Semmler adit. The adit continues to drain water from the entire Schlema, Schneeberg, and Schneeberg-Neustädtel mining district today.