Podgórze 55, 58-530 Kowary.
Between Jelenia Góra (Hirschberg) and Karpacz. At Kowary (Schmiedeberg), signposted. Parking at the hotel is reserved for hotel guests. The parking lot is 500 m from the mine, 10 minutes walk.
APR to JUN daily 10-18.
JUL to AUG daily 9-19.
SEP to OCT daily 9-17.
NOV to MAR daily 10-17.
Tours every hour on the hour.
Adults PLN 35, Children (7-18) PLN 29, Children (0-6) PLN 1, Seniors (65+) PLN 29.
Groups (20+): Adults PLN 22.
|Classification:||Iron Mine Uranium Mine Radontherapy|
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System Son et Lumière|
|Dimension:||T=7 °C, H=98 %.|
|Guided tours:||L=1,200 m, D=60 min, Min=2, Max=40.|
|Address:||Jelenia Struga Medical SPA Sp. z o.o., ul. Podgórze 55, 58-530 Kowary, Tel: +48-75-75-28-458, Tel: +48-796-599-774. 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.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|12th century||first mining in the area.|
|1808||iron mine opened.|
|1850||begin of flourspar mining.|
|1945||Polish/Russian uranium mining started.|
|1948||uranium mining at Liczyrzepa Mine started.|
|20-APR-2000||opened to the public.|
|2002||radon tunnel reopened.|
At Kowary, uranium was found bordering the granite with metamorphic rocks. The ores are seams of hydrothermal origin, both the metamorpic rocks and the ores are a result of the granite intrusion. The typical minerals of the deposit are iron ores, fluorite, calcite, silver, uraninite.
The Kopalnia Liczyrzepa (Liczyrzepa Mine) at Kowary was originally an iron mine, named after Liczyrzepa (Rübezahl), a sort of "mountain king" and the lead actor of many legends. Like many iron mines with high grade ore but hard to mine seams, it became unprofitable and was abandoned. There was some fluorite mining too, during the mid 19th century. The Liczyrzepa Mine was actually located on the other side of the hill and the mine site and slag heaps are over there, but some tunnels crossed the hill and so the show mine is today operated from this side.
After World War II, with the beginning of the Cold War and the run for the Atomic Bomb, it was reactivated as a Uranium Mine. 20 tunnels were dug for the production of uranium between 1945 and 1954, by a Polish-Russian company with the code name Zakłady Przemysłowe R-1 (industrial plants R-1). The ore from this mine was important for the production of the first Russian atomic bombs. Obviously the mining activities were top secret at that time. Between 1948 and 1954 about 470 tons of uranium ores were mined at the Liczyrzepa mine. With an average content of 0.3 % of uranium this equals 1.4 tons of pure uranium. However, only Uranium 238 was used for the bombs, Uranium 235 is not radioactive. It is used as a very heavy metal, for example to make very heavy bullets with a high impact energy.
Although the urianium mining was top secret for many decades, the mine became a little more public after a radon therapy tunnel was opened in 1974. Named Sztolnie Kowary (Kowary Tunnel) it was the core of the Cieplice Health Resort. It was one of only three radon therapy centres in Europe at this time. Radon is a natural gas, belonging to the inert gasses, and it generally does not react very easy. Natural radon has a low natural radioactivity and is thus not exactly healthy. As it is not incorporated, its actually inert, there are no dangers of contamination, but on the other hand the radioactivity is the only scientifically accepted effect on the body. Obviously the healing effects of radon are a little dubious. However, postulated dangers of radon are exaggerated and there is definitely no danger to visitors or patients. Probably to the people working at the site if they spend a lot of time in the tunnel. Radon therapy was very popular during socialist times, but it abandoned in 1990, as a result of the many changes after the end of the Cold War. It simply lacked financial resources. The spa was renovated in 2002 and the radon therapy reopened, it is today called "Jelenia Struga" Hotel. It is located at the entrance to the show mine as it uses the same tunnel, although the hotel has a separate entrance in the basement. But as the hotel is in operation again the parking lot is dedicated only to hotel guests, visitors to the mine have to park 500 m down the valley and walk 10 minutes to the mine.
A real danger exists nearby. The mined ore was milled and leached in a uranium mill to extract the uranium. The overburden was pumped as sludge into a sedimentation pond, where it is until today. While actual waste rock is not a problem at all, other ores oxidizing and releasing poisonous substances and small remains of uranium ore which release radioactive substances are a problem. The seepage water is a continuous threat to ground and surface waters.