Deep underground, where dwarves dance, the lead and zinc trail presenting centuries of spilled sweat and blisters begins. And if you stop for a moment, a “Bergmandelc” will appear in the corner of the dark tunnel if you are lucky, you will hear the muffled blows of the hammers and pickaxes of the lost spirits of the miners…
This is where the underground of Peca begins.
(Mag. Suzana Fajmut Štrucl)
HISTORY OF MEŽICA MINE
Ore deposits between Peca and Uršlja gora have been known since the Romans discovered them. The first mining permit for the mining of lead ore dates to 1665. We mark this year as the beginning of mining in our regions. The long years of mining and the development of the mine have uniquely marked the life of the people and the landscape at the foothills of the Karavanke mountains.
Individuals initially owned the mine. At the end of the 19th century, the Austrian company Bleiberger Bergwerks Union (BBU) bought all the smaller mines and started planned mining. With increasingly active excavation, the number of miners also increased, impacting the influence the mine had on the development of the municipalities of Črna na Koroškem and Mežica.
The mine began to develop fast at the beginning of the twentieth century. At that time, its accompanying activities (smelter and separation plant in Žerjav, power plants etc.) started to develop. The powerful company Rudnik svinca in topilnica Mežica (Lead mine and smelter Mežica) was created, which employed over 2,000 people in the mining facilities, separation, smelter, battery production, equipment factory, sawmill, carpentry workshop and general services.
In more than three centuries of mining, the miners unearthed around 19 million tons of lead and zinc ore and over 1000 km of tunnels in the process made.
In 1988, a law was passed on the gradual closure of the mine, and a project was drawn up for the closure of the Mežica Lead and Zinc Mine in 1994. That is when the production of lead-zinc ore finally ended. They began to fill up lower parts of the with water. Tunnels up to a height of 417 m are today underwater. At a height of 417 m, the water from the mine drains itself through the so-called water tunnel to Prevalje.