vorige Hefte

Peter Eichhorn:
Fire-setting and Ore Falls
The mining methods used in the Rammelsberg ore mine around 1700

After the end of the 30 Years' War, the Rammelsberg ore mine managed to increase production in line with rising demand and to make mining operations safer. Therefore, the years up to 1700 were marked by a stabilisation of mining technology. The dramatic drop in production at the beginning of the 1720s was not due to problems at the mine but the result of a shortage of timber throughout the Harz and the sudden recession on the market for noble metals. Nevertheless, the high technical standard of the mining equipment meant that it was possible to continue mining operations with any major changes to the end of the 18th century.
Although the techniques, processes and methods employed in Rammelsberg were rather conservative compared with the other mines in the Upper Harz, the owners were still able to make a profit even when the timber shortages forced them to cut production. Therefore, improving the efficiency of mining operations, e.g. by modernising the equipment and methods, was not one of the owners' primary concerns. As the accidents which occurred during that time were rarely due to the mining methods used, they also saw no need to change their old ways for safety reasons.

The article deals with the special mining method used in Rammelsberg around 1700 of setting fires to heat and crack the rocks containing the ore and then waiting for the rock to fall away.