|Location:||At Velenje, Stari jašek-Koroška cesta.|
All year Tue-Sun 9:30-17, last tour 15:30.
Adults EUR 8.50, Children (3-18) EUR 6, Seniors (65+) EUR 7.10, Students EUR 6.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 7.65, Children (3-18) EUR 5.40, Seniors (65+) EUR 6.40, Students EUR 5.40.
|Address:||Muzej Premogovništva Slovenije, Koroška cesta - Stari jašek, 3320 Velenje, Tel: +386-3-5870-997, Fax: +386-3-5870-997. 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.
|1957||the Museum of Slovene Mines was founded.|
|8-OCT-1966||museum opened to the public, located in Velenje castle.|
Lignite or brown coal is a low quality coal. Coal is a deposit of mainly plants, formed by huge bogs where plants do not rot but form thick layers of peat. If the peat is covered by sand and gravel it is compressed, water is pressed out and the process of incoaling starts. At the begin is lignite, still with a very high content of water, sulfur, and sometimes even sand and clay which stays in the ash after burning. In general lignite is used for pressing briquettes or it is burned immediately after mining and used to produce electricity and probably district heating.
The city of Velenje is founded on lignite, huge layers of lignite are found right below the surface. The topmost layers of lignite have been mined in open cast mines, but soon the mines had to go underground to mine lower layers. Today the mine produces 4 Million tons of lignite per year at a depth of m.
The method used for mining at at Velenje is the so-called Velenje method, as it was developed here. The miners have hydraulic machines which hold the ceiling up while molding machines scrape the lignite onto conveyor belts. While the mining front procedes, the stamps behind lower the ceiling continually. As a result the produced space is not filled in, but the whole pack of rocks above lowers by the thickness of the mined lignite layer.
This method is very effective and much cheaper and thus more profitable than refilling. But the drawback are huge areas of subsidence, marked by the enormous lakes in the area of the city. When the ground goes down tens of meters, the holes fill with ground water. And the ground water is a great danger to the mine too. The coal is covered by layers of impermeable clay, which keeps the ground water out of the mine. But if one day the layer was perforated by the subsidence the lakes would flow into the mine, probably killing many miners and making the mine useless.
The Muzej Premogovništva Slovenije (Coal Mining Museum of Slovenia) is located in the northern part of the city, between the Velenjsko jezero and the Skalsko jezero. It is not just a museum, it is a still working mining operation, and visitor park their car on the mine parking lot, tell the guard at the door that the want to visit the museum, and follow a row of defunct mining machinery to an abandoned mining building. This working mine cooperated with the museum staff to create a unique experience. This is not a historic mine and not a museum, it is a chance to see how miners work. There are the typical shower rooms, clothes are lifted to the ceiling with chains, an original mine elevator lowers the visitors down into the mine.
Obviously this is not all. The mine was expanded by various exhibitions in the surface building. There are historic displays of daily life, historic documents, photographs, lamps and tools. There is a art exhibition with paintings of locals, which are both an expression of the need of the hard working miners for some creative counterbalance and a document of the development of the mine, as many pictures depict working and living conditions. There is also a small mineral exposition, which is not directly connected to the lignite mine, but contains minerals from around Velenje. And finally there is the underground mine: an abandoned level of the working mine was equipped with light effects and animatronic, and the tour is a sort of mining theme park. This is probably appreciated by American and British visitors, but middle European visitors prefer the still working machinery, which is demonstrated, and the geologic insights.
We were really impressed by this show mine. The city of Velenje has a long history, and as typical for mining cities, a long history of poverty. But the show mine is a fine development as it draws tourists to this remote part of Slovenia and the visit is a true highlight of any travel.