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1981: End of mining in Luxembourg

The 27th of November marks the fortieth anniversary of the end of iron ore mining in Luxembourg.

It was on November 27, 1981 that the last shift went underground at the Thillenberg mine in Differdange. Reason enough to look back on the history of iron ore mining in Luxembourg.

Denis Klein, historian and member of the board of directors of the “Musée national des mines de fer” in Rumelange, explains that mining in Luxembourg probably started as early as the times of the Celts and was probably never completely abandoned afterwards.

From the mid 19th century and with the beginning of the industrial revolution, it became more and more interesting to extract the iron ore from Luxembourg’s soil. Although only a fraction of the Lorraine ore basin belongs to Luxembourg, it was profitable from the beginning to extract iron ore here in the country.

Thanks to a smelting clause that did not actually exist, Luxembourg’s first steelworks, Denis Klein, gradually developed alongside the mining activity:

Iron ore mining did not start in Luxembourg in a coordinated way, however. The state distributed the concessions only after the first landowners had probably already begun to mine the iron ore that lay on their lands:

In 1906, Luxembourg was already one of the 10 countries in the world where the most iron ore was mined in terms of tonnage. At that time, more than 6000 men were working underground in the country.

Next week we are looking at the gradual decline of Luxembourg’s mining industry, which became more and more unprofitable from 1957 onwards and finally came to an end on 27 November 1981.