Upper Palatinate

The Oberpfalz (Upper Palatinate) is rich in various mineral deposits. The reason for this diversity is the complexity of its geology, an old orogeny with various granite intrusions. From the west it is covered by mesozoic sediments, which contain the sedimentary oolitic iron ore of the Middle Jurassic.

Several minerals and ores of the area were mined since Roman times. They were close to the surface and easy to mine. From this time iron smelting is known.

It industrial heydays had the area between the 14th and 17th century. In this period primarily iron, tin and silver ores were mined. The Oberpfalz was a European iron centre, later called the Ruhrgebiet of the Middle Ages. One reason of its success was the Große Hammereinung of 1387, a treaty which actually united the hammers to a sort of cartel. But the rigid limitations of the treaty also caused the comedown of the local iron industry.

A new period of expansion started in the mid 19th century with the construction of the railroad. This caused a need for huge amounts of iron, and because of this demand caused the construction of modern iron industry in Haidhof, Rosenberg and Amberg. The decline started in the mid 20th century with cheaper iron on the world market. In 1964 the Luitpoldhütte at Amberg closed the iron mine and furnace and only the foundry remained. The Maxhütte reduced the production continually until it finally went corrupt in 1987. As a result the last iron mine, Grube Lenie which was owned by the company, was closed too.

During the 1950s the fluorite mining was of great importance. The twelve mines in the area of Nabburg and Stulln produced about 130.000 t per year which equaled about 10% of the world production. Together with the fluorite mines of the Black Forest, Germany was the biggest producer of fluorite in the world. This mining did not end because of economic reasons, the deposits were simply depleted. There were once two show mines, but unfortunately both are closed now, so it is not possible any more to visit a fluorite mine.