The Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) is a hillcountry located along the German-Czech border. Its Czech name is Krušné hory. It begins in the west at the Vogtland near Plauen and ends at the Elbsandsteingebirge, the sandstone cliffs south of Dresden. It is about 120 km long from east to west and about 30 km wide from north to south. The mountain ridge is both natural and political border to the Czech Republic.
the mining in this area has a very long tradion, especially for metals or ores, which explains the origin of the name. First mainly iron and tin were mined, later also silver, copper, lead, arsenic, cobalt, and nickel. This big variety was the basement for an important mining and smelting tradition. The cities of Freiberg, Marienberg, Annaberg, Schneeberg and Joachimsthal are called Bergstadt (Mining Town) and they were wealthy mainly because of silver mining. The name mining town would today be connected with pollution, social problems and mining accidents, but in the Middle Ages it was a thing to be proud of, because it meant wealth, freedom, and work.
During the 19th and 20th century the mining industry was the basis of the industrialization. The local industries were mechanical engineering, sheet metal, dyeing, paper mills, and textile industry. But the heydays of the local mining were actually during the mid 20th century, after the discovery of uranium deposits. This uranium was mined by a company named SDAG Wismut mainly for the weapon production in Russia. This mining was more intense and less social than the Medieval mining.
At the end of the Cold War the whole mining in the area stopped. In a way there was no maret left. And actually during the socialist times many decisions were made in a political way, not by economic necessities.