Sign up now to learn more about the extraordinary geology of the Minett this Saturday as part of the Geodiversity Days.
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The Minett is the northern extension of the great Lorraine iron ore basin, which, with an extension of about 100 kilometres long and 20-30 kilometres wide, is one of the largest iron ore deposits formed on our planet after the formation of the oxygen atmosphere.
On the territory of Luxembourg there are two small branches of this iron ore deposit, the basins of Differdange and Esch-Alzette. Bean ore was mined and processed here as early as the Iron Age. Small underground mines were probably also in operation at that time. However, due to the high phosphorus content of the Minette rocks, industrial iron ore mining only began after the introduction of the Thomas process at the end of the 19th century.
Most of the Minette ore was mined until after the Second World War. After that, until the end of the 1970s, additional open-cast mining was carried out, although it should be noted that Luxembourg’s largest open-cast mines were located to the east of Esch.
The Thillenberg mine, the last mine in the south of Luxembourg, was abandoned in 1981. The last mine where Minette iron ore was mined closed in 1997. This was the Terres Rouges mine in Audun-le-Tiche, which until then had supplied the blast furnaces in Esch-Belval.
How did the minette ore form?
The name Minette is a diminutive of the French word “mine” and refers to the relatively low iron content of the stones. While in France the word was used only for the iron ore, in Luxembourg a whole region was named after these red stones.
The formation of the iron ore basin, its geological peculiarities and the different types of iron ore deposited in our region over millions of years will be explained to you this Saturday during a guided tour of about 2 hours.
The geologist Romain Meyer, active member of the Association géologique du Luxembourg, will guide you through the past of our region and show you, in the gallery of the Minièresbunn Doihl, with concrete examples, why the miners in Luxembourg spoke of green, red or black Minette. He will also explain what is special about the minette and describe in detail the history of its deposition.
How was the minette mined?
This question is answered by the members of the Doihl Mine Railway. The association, founded in 1990, organises regular visits to the iron ore mine between Doihl and Lasauvage. As well as a ride on a mine train bought and restored by the association, there is also a stop in the mine gallery, where you can see the conditions and tools used to work in the former MMR-A mine.
In addition to the geological explanations and the demonstrations of the work in the mine, you can also visit the Eugène Pesch Museum, where you can not only reconstruct the miners’ daily work through photos and other documents, but also discover the impressive fossil collection of Eugène Pesch. He collected them throughout his life in the mines and quarries around Differdange. This collection helps us to better understand the formation of the Minette iron ore.
Registration and access
The starting point of this geological expedition is the Carreau Minier in Lasauvage. From here, you will first take the Minièresbunn to the Doihl, where you will be shown and explained the association’s installations and materials, and then return to the mine.
On the way back to Lasauvage, there is a stop at the gallery for further explanations, followed by a visit to the Eugène Pesch Museum or a pleasant drink at the Brasserie de la Mine in Lasauvage.
There is plenty of parking at the Carreau Minier. It is also possible to get there by train or bus. Here are the directions if you are coming from Luxembourg City and here are the directions if you are coming from Esch-Alzette.
To participate for free in this Geodiversity Days 2023 event in Luxembourg, all you need to do is register in advance by email. Please note that the average temperature in the mines of Luxembourg is around 11°C. Wear a warm jacket and sturdy shoes to discover the geological heritage of the south of Luxembourg.