Czechia has a more extensive ore and uranium mining history than you may know, with ore mining dating way back to the Stone Age. While both ore and uranium mining are entirely abolished within this country, they once served a hugely important purpose during conflicts such as the Second World War. While we now have underground drill rigs and rock breakers to aid us during mining, the processes carried out decades ago were highly different, so we believe it’s important to see how and why ore and uranium mining in Czechia has changed forever.
The Middle Ages to The Mixed Era
The underground exploitation of raw materials in Czechia was crucial centuries ago, although the minerals that we extracted were significantly different from uranium. During the Middle Ages, mostly silver ore was exploited from underground mines, along with tin and gold as well. During this period, mining was entirely controlled by the King and became much more critical to the economy after the mineral of silver was discovered in rich deposits.
Moving onto the Mixed Era, the Premyslids were at the peak of their power, with the Bohemian state being involved in an economic boom between the 13th-14th centuries. With the discovered silver a few years back, many people were brought to Czechia in the hopes that they would become rich in silver. Because of this, a set of legal regulations were put in place regarding silver mining in the Jihlava and Havlíčkův Brod region.
The 18th – 19th Century
Fast forward several centuries later, and we find the importance of pyrite and iron ore mining within the central Bohemia in Czechia, with uranium ores being mined in Jáchymov. In the early 19th century, the first ever mining process of radioactive minerals commenced in Jáchymov. Until World War II began, uranium was primarily used for its radium contents, often being used to make luminous paint for watch dials and other instruments used within the time period. Also, uranium was frequently used during health-related applications, although this often proved to be dangerous and harmful to several patients.
20th Century – World War II
Uranium mining became massively crucial during the 20th century, as it was needed to make effective bombs during the Second World War. In 1948, a communist party took control of Czechia (then known as Czechoslovakia), and large prison camps were established. Victims of this development were forced to mine uranium ore under extremely harsh conditions, leading to a reduced life expectancy of just 42 years in Jáchymov. After so much danger and suffering surrounding the mining of uranium ore, the process ceased in 1964.
Ore mining within Czechia was terminated in 1994, with mines being closed down all across the country. With uranium, all extraction has been discontinued, and clean-up operations are now underway to help the country recover. The mining of uranium was considered a high priority because of its military and strategic advantage over other war-related weapons. Because of the suffering that individuals went through in the prison camps though, uranium has a highly negative reputation in Czechia, which is why ore and uranium mining has been exterminated in this European country.