Museu Estadual do Carvão

Useful Information

Location: Arroio dos Ratos, 54 km from Porto Alegre
(-30.091781, -51.722689)
Open: All year Tue-Sat 8:30-11:30, 13:30-16:30, Sun, Hol 13-17.
Fee: free.
Classification: MineCoal Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Address: Museu Estadual do Carvão, Rua Profª Silvana Narvaez, 61, Arroio dos Ratos 96740-000, Tel: +55-51-3656-1211. E-mail: E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1872 The Imperial Brazilian Collieries C. Limited founded in Arroio dos Ratos.
1881 mining activities led by Nicácio Teixeira Machado in Butiá.
1885 Poço da Izabel inaugurated in the presence of the princess and her husband, Count D´Eu.
1908 Poço 01 opened.
1924 thermoelectric plant started production.
1956 thermoelectric plant shut down.
31-MAR-1986 museum opened to the public by State Decree No. 32,211.


Due to the geographical conditions responsible for its formation Brazilian coal, for the most part, has low quality. The coal in this region also stands out for its quality, which, even if it falls by world standards, is better than in the rest of the country. The state of Rio Grande do Sul is the largest producer in the country, with 52.3% of production.


The Museu Estadual do Carvão (State Coal Museum) is a museum about coal mining, not a show mine. Its objective is to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of coal mining in Rio Grande do Sul and to act as Cultural Center for the Carboniferous Region of Baixo Jacuí. It is located in the restored ruins of Poço 01 and the first thermoelectric plant which was operated in Brazil. The Usina Termoelétrica was built by the Companhia Estrada de Ferro e Minas de São Jerônimo (CEFSMJ).

The coal of Rio Grande do Sul is of better quality than other coal deposits, nevertheless it is not good enough for furnaces and other uses. Also, during the 19th century, the transport was difficult. Not enough roads and railroads, but the industries which needed coal were located at harbours. As a result Brazil imported coal from Australia and Germany. This became more difficult during World War I which boosted the local coal mining. Nevertheless, domestic coal is mostly used to produce electricity. Today it is a fallback when hydroelectric power is low due to low water. The history of the coal mining is one important topic of the museum.

The next topic is the labor movement connected with mining. Since the 1930s the miners started to fight against the oppressive methods of the mining companies. They were living in towns owned by the company buying good in the company store for vouchers. The result was tight control over the private life and an effective disciplinary device. The workers depended for everything on the goodwill of the company.