Bismuth (company)

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Miners of the SDAG Wismut, 1957
Locations of bismuth

The Wismut AG or from 1954 Wismut (Soviet-German corporation bismuth) was a mining company , which is 1946 to 1990 the world's fourth largest producer of uranium had developed (after the USSR, the USA and Canada). The uranium extracted and processed on the territory of the Soviet occupation zone and GDR at locations in Saxony and Thuringia was the raw material base of the Soviet nuclear industry . The successor company Wismut GmbH , as a federal company, is entrusted with the rehabilitation and recultivation of the legacies of the bismuth mining.

History at a glance

Start of exploration and dismantling

Typical cobalt and uranium ore from the Ore Mountains

The history of uranium is not so closely linked with any other region in the world as with the Saxon-Bohemian Ore Mountains . The mining in the Ore Mountains beginning in the 12th century with silver and tin one; the extraction of further minerals followed. Especially in the silver cobalt -Bergwerken in Westerzgebirge a black, heavy, useless minerals since the 16th century was known, was variously associated with the iron or zinc. The name " pitchblende " was created for this mineral. Joachimsthal (today: Jáchymov ) in the Bohemian part of the Ore Mountains is given as the type locality for the pitchblende (or uraninite ) .

In 1789, the Berlin chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth processed material from the Georg Wagsfort mine in Johanngeorgenstadt and discovered the element uranium in it. In the 19th century, uranium was extracted in some Ore Mountains mines as a by-product for the manufacture of paint. In Joachimsthal this reached industrial proportions (up to 1898, 1,600 tons of uranium colors were produced, among other things, for the production of uranium glass ); it is the first uranium mining (uranium as the main product) in the world. By 1898, 21 uranium minerals were scientifically known, 14 of which were described for the first time in the Ore Mountains.

The Erzgebirge was an almost monopoly source of uranium in scientific research at the time: Marie and Pierre Curie used large amounts of processing residues from Joachimsthal for their discovery of polonium and radium . This had a major impact: On the one hand, the extraction of radium began in Joachimsthal parallel to the production of paint, and on the other hand, highly radioactive water from the pits was used to set up a spa that continues to this day. The latter in particular aroused covetousness in Saxony, and at the beginning of the 20th century Professor Carl Schiffner from Freiberg started an intensive exploration program for radioactive sources and mineral deposits in the Ore Mountains. He found the strongest source in Oberschlema in the Marx-Semler-Stolln , which led to the establishment of the local spa center.

The detailed investigations by Schiffner were valuable starting material for the Soviet experts in the Soviet occupation zone after the Second World War . There was no direct uranium mining in Saxony before the Second World War; production was limited to a small amount of uranium extracted from the cobalt-bismuth- nickel mines in the western Ore Mountains. Try to find a uranium pit e.g. B. Opening in Precipitation was unsuccessful in the 1920s and 1930s.

With the end of the Second World War, Soviet experts immediately came into the country. These should first examine the state of German atomic research. Finding more than 100 tons of uranium oxide in Neustadt-Glewe was a big leap for the Soviet nuclear program. At the same time, investigations began in the Ore Mountains to find natural uranium deposits. In Joachimsthal, once again in Czechoslovakia, production continued without interruption, now for the Soviet Union. The first point of contact in Saxony was Freiberg with the mountain archive and the mountain academy . Although many uranium deposits were known in Saxony, there were no corresponding economic considerations regarding the size of the deposits. Professors Dr. Schumacher and Gustav Aeckerlein at the Bergakademie carried out an analysis of the uranium resources of the Ore Mountains on behalf of the Soviet Union and came to a sobering result of just eighty to ninety tons of uranium for Johanngeorgenstadt as the place with the highest expected potential.

On September 14, 1945 the 9th Administration of the Ministry of Interior of the USSR formed the Geological Group ( Геологопоисковая Партия Geologopoiskowaja Partija ). The Saxon ore search group ( Саксонская Рудно-Поисковая Партия Saksonskaja Rudno-Poiskowaja Partija ) subordinated to it searched the uranium deposits in the Ore Mountains. The investigative work of the Saxon ore search group began in September 1945 and lasted until March 16, 1946. The investigation was then carried out by the Saxon Extraction formed with the order No. 720-294 of the Council of Ministers of the USSR of April 4, 1946 with retroactive effect to April 1, 1946 - and exploratory group ( Саксонская Промышленно-Разведочная Партия Saksonskaja Promyshlenno-Raswedochnaja Partija ) continued. Mining facilities were partly taken over by Sachsenz Bergwerks AG , founded in 1944 . In the final report of March 16, 1946, 22.2 t of uranium for Johanngeorgenstadt and 10 t of uranium for Schneeberg are reported and the immediate start of uranium mining in both areas is recommended. With the Council of Ministers resolution No. 9372 of July 29, 1946, the Saxon Extraction and Exploration Group was renamed the Saxon Mining Administration of the Ministry of the Interior of the USSR, the forerunner of the later General Directorate of Wismut AG, with field post number 27304 of the Red Army . The name of the mineral bismuth now served as the company's cover name. She continued the work she had started and expanded it to the Annaberg and Marienberg locations . While 15.7 tons of uranium were mined in 1946, the output rose to 145 tons in 1947 and bismuth became the most important uranium producer in the USSR's sphere of influence.

The uranium production in the Soviet sphere of influence between 1945 and 1950 in tons
year USSR SBZ / GDR ČSR Bulgaria Poland
1945 14.6
1946 50.0 15.0 018.0 26.6
1947 129.3 150.0 49.1 7.6 2.3
1948 182.5 321.2 103.2 18.2 9.3
1949 278.6 767.8 147.3 30.3 43.3
1950 416.9 1224.0 281.4 70.9 63.6
total 1071.9 2478 599 153.6 118.5

Wismut AG (1947–1953)

Company headquarters in Chemnitz

On May 26, 1947, the head of the SMAD , Marshal Sokolowski , instructed the chief of the SMA Sachsen (Soviet Military Administration of Saxony) Major General Dubrowski with the order 0155 to convert the SMAD order 128 of May 26, 1947 into an order valid for the state of Saxony to implement. The content of the order was the transfer of German mining operations into Soviet property and the transfer to the USSR's reparations account . General Dubrowski complied with this order on May 30, 1947 with Order 113 of the SMA. Wismut AG then received the mining administrations Schneeberg , Johanngeorgenstadt , Annaberg-Buchholz , Marienberg , Lauter and ore processing in Pechtelsgrün as basic equipment. The German subsidiary, founded in Moscow on June 4, was based in Aue , where it was entered in the commercial register on July 2, 1947. The entry read: “State stock corporation of the nonferrous metal industry 'Wismut', Aue, subsidiary of the main company existing under the same name in Moscow. Purpose of the company: Extraction, prospecting and sale of colored metals, both within the territory of the USSR and abroad. Registered capital: 50,000,000 rubles . Aktiengesellschaft "(excerpt). Its first general director was Major General Mikhail Mitrofanowitsch Malzew . This had already taken over the management of the Saxon mining administration in September 1946. In 1948 the company's headquarters were relocated to Chemnitz-Siegmar in the town hall at Rathausstrasse 5. In 1952, the company's headquarters were relocated to the newly built administration building at Jagdschänkenstrasse 29. The successor companies SDAG Wismut and Wismut GmbH also retained this seat. Wismut AG was first directly subordinate to the Soviet defense industry, later to the Soviet Ministry of Medium-Sized Mechanical Engineering .

Call for advertising for the work in uranium mining of the AG "Wismut" (probably at the end of the 1940s)

The positive results of the exploration in 1946 and the subsequent extraction work were followed by a high demand for German workers, who - according to the practice common at the time - through work obligations ( Allied Control Council Order No. 3 of January 17, 1946) as well as intensive advertising measures Mining were supplied. From October 1946 to December 1947, 43,590 workers were forced to work for Wismut AG, 31,626 of them from the state of Saxony. Political prisoners or prisoners of war were not affected by this measure - unlike in early Czechoslovak uranium mining. Violent disputes between the Saxon mining administration, the MWD , the Soviet military administration in Germany (SMAD) and the main administration responsible for the Soviet atomic bomb project at the Council of Ministers of the USSR promptly corrected the compulsory practices, which were then restricted and soon afterwards completely abolished. On the other hand, in the early 1950s, property security and the surveillance of the workforce were tightened, as a result of which hundreds of miners were punished with draconian penalties for minor offenses. In addition, between 1951 and 1953 alone, at least 70 Wismut employees were abducted as alleged spies in the Soviet Union and executed there.

Protected by troops from the Soviet MWD, production made good progress and in 1950 it reached more than one thousand tons of uranium per year for the first time. By the end of this year, Wismut and its preceding mining company had delivered around 2500 t of uranium to the Soviet Union, compared to a Soviet in-house production of around 1000 t of uranium and another 850 t from Czechoslovakia , Bulgaria and Poland . From around the middle of 1949, the working area of ​​the bismuth also expanded to Thuringia , in whose southern and eastern parts uranium ores were found. In addition to the actual mining and processing plants, Wismut also took over or founded mechanical engineering, maintenance and supply companies. Individual shafts and operations were combined into so-called "objects", 22 of which existed in 1953 in the south of the GDR. On August 22, 1953, the USSR and the GDR signed an agreement in which the two governments decided to liquidate the German branch of Wismut AG and to re-establish the "Soviet-German Wismut Corporation". The total production of Wismut AG up to its liquidation on December 31, 1953 was around 10,000 tons of uranium.

SDAG bismuth (1954–1991)

At the end of 1953, Wismut AG was liquidated and re-established as the Soviet-German stock corporation (SDAG), which existed until 1991. SDAG took over all Wismut AG plants, but did not become its legal successor. The share capital was set at two billion marks when it was founded, with the GDR and the USSR each owning half. The GDR, however, had to buy its share of the shares from the USSR in installments of 200 million marks per year. The headquarters of the company was taken over by Wismut AG in Karl-Marx-Stadt / Siegmar ( Chemnitz ). The SDAG began its economic activity on January 1, 1954. On this day, 32,632 t of uranium were in the Wismut supply balance. In 1962, 1968 and 1975 several agreements were made between the GDR and the USSR to extend the activities of SDAG Wismut - the 1975 agreement was valid until 2000.

The number of employees, which peaked at 132,800 in 1953, fell to around 45,000 by 1962 and remained almost unchanged until the end of the 1980s. Intensive modernization measures were also carried out in the 1950s, which led to an improvement in the work situation of the employees and an increase in productivity. So modern powerful pits were on the deposits Ronneburg and Niederschlema geteuft and after 1951 went into operation processing plant in Crossen another central processing plant in Seelingstädt opened. Over the years, the technical base has been expanded by auxiliary companies in Aue, Zwickau , Grüna and Karl-Marx-Stadt. In addition, the miners underground received more modern technology. In the 1960s, the Wismut had a technical level that corresponded to the worldwide level of similar mining companies. The last two important uranium deposits in Königstein (Saxon Switzerland) and Pöhla were discovered during this period .

At the beginning of the 1970s, the SDAG set itself the goal of producing uranium at world market prices. However, the stock situation deteriorated from the mid-1970s. Until 1976, the stock level could be increased continuously through constant exploration, in the following years, however, the deletion of stocks exceeded the amount of newly explored stocks. Because world market prices also fell, this goal could ultimately never be achieved.

In 1989 the “Willy Agatz” mining company in Freital and the Crossen processing plant ceased operations. In the same year it was decided to stop the uranium production of the Beerwalde mining company at the Ronneburg deposit. However, the political events overtook the planning for the SDAG Wismut. After the reunification , in 1990, the GDR and the USSR agreed to cease operations of the SDAG Wismut on January 1, 1991, which cost most of the ten thousand employees their jobs. Since the USSR refused to accept and pay for the agreed uranium supplies as early as 1990, the SDAG ran into serious financial difficulties. The impending insolvency could only be averted by taking out loans made possible by federal guarantees .

With the German reunification on October 3, 1990, the GDR part of the SDAG was transferred to the Federal Republic of Germany, so that responsibility lay with the Federal Ministry of Economics from that point on . On May 16, 1991, an agreement was made between the Federal Republic of Germany and the USSR under which the Soviet shares in the company were transferred to the Federal Republic free of charge. The agreement came into force on December 20, 1991, and the Soviet Union dissolved the following day. In order to avoid lengthy negotiations, the Federal Republic of Germany had refrained from insisting that the USSR participate in the renovation measures aimed at making the former industrial areas usable again.

On December 18, 1991, the “Bismuth Law” passed by the Bundestag came into force, which regulated the conversion of SDAG into a federally owned GmbH. The board of directors of SDAG Wismut met for the last time two days earlier and released the general management and itself from their duties.

Total production

Between 1946 and the end of 1990 the processing plants of SDAG Wismut and its predecessors supplied 216,300 t of uranium. The mining operations themselves had extraction volumes of 231,300 t uranium with a resource extinction of 251,510 t in the same period. The differences represent extraction losses during the mining, transport and processing of the ores. The GDR thus supplied around a third of the uranium mined in the Soviet sphere of influence until 1990.

The last inventory balance of SDAG Wismut was available on January 1, 1991. This named deleted reserves amounting to 251,510 t uranium, balance reserves of 57,922 t uranium as well as prognostic resources of 74,079 t uranium.

After 1990, a small amount of "disposal mining" took place in Ronneburg, Niederschlema-Alberoda and Pöhla in order to minimize the contact area between the uranium ore and the later flood water. In Königstein, mine water treatment still produces uranium, which is "disposed of" through sale. As part of the remediation mining, a total of 3,089 t of uranium was extracted at all locations between 1991 and 2011, and sales of around 67 million euros were achieved.

Between 1946 and 1990, the equivalent of 1.9 billion USD was invested in the exploration and establishment of uranium deposits in eastern Germany (price level 2008). This corresponds to around 95% of the corresponding expenditure for Germany as a whole and 12% of the worldwide expenditure up to the year 2008.

Wismut GmbH (from 1991)

Through the State Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the USSR of May 16, 1991, the previously Soviet part of SDAG Wismut was also transferred to Germany. The stock corporation was converted into the restructuring company Wismut GmbH, from which the extensive ancillary and auxiliary operations as the German manufacturing and plant construction company mbH (DFA) were spun off at the beginning of 1992 . Individual parts of the DFA were privatized by 1995, the rest of the company then went into liquidation.

Wismut GmbH is owned by the Federal Republic of Germany, which is represented by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy . Since it was founded in 1991, the company has been based in Chemnitz / Saxony. The approximately 1,100 employees of Wismut face one of the greatest ecological and technical challenges with the rehabilitation of the uranium mining legacy.

The fundamental goal of Wismut GmbH to this day is to carry out an ecologically sensible renovation of the Wismut sites and to create acceptable environmental conditions in the interests of the people living in the affected areas. For this major project, which is unique in the world, the federal government provided budget funds of around DM 13 billion over a period of 10 to 15 years. About 1.5 billion DM of this went to the Schlema-Alberoda ( shaft 371 ) and Pöhla sites . The redevelopment goals were derived from the applicable legal regulations and national and international recommendations. After the cessation of uranium production, the following was a priority:

  • the defense against the immediate danger to the population and the protected air, water and soil
  • an inventory of the environmental damage caused by mining
  • the development of a viable concept for a systematic long-term renovation

By the end of 2011, restructuring measures worth around 5.5 billion euros from federal funds had been implemented. Wismut GmbH included the subsidiary Wisutec GmbH (Wismut Umwelttechnik GmbH), founded in 2002 , which was responsible for the marketing of remediation technologies. On May 17, 2010 Wisutec was taken over by GEOS Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH.

Development of the business premises

Schneeberg / Schlema / Alberoda

Shaft 371 in Hartenstein, former main shaft on the Niederschlema-Alberoda deposit
Türk shaft used by Wismut AG with its steel headframe from the 19th century in Zschorlau near Schneeberg
Renovation work on shaft 26 (forest shaft) near the felt pond in Schneeberg
Uranium ore from Niederschlema-Alberoda
Roter Kamm in Bad Schlema, the geological boundary between the parts of the Schneeberg and Oberschlema deposits

The hydrothermal vein deposit in the Western Ore Mountains is made up of the three partial deposits Schneeberg, Oberschlema and Niederschlema-Alberoda. The deposit with its mining facilities extends over parts of the towns and communities Schneeberg , Zschorlau , Lindenau , Bad Schlema , Aue with the districts of Alberoda, Lößnitz and Hartenstein .

Mining in Schlema and Schneeberg began in the 14th century. First copper and iron were extracted; With the discovery of rich silver mineralization under the Schneeberg, the area developed into an important mining region in Saxony. With the decline in silver production, mining for cobalt , bismuth and nickel followed . A special feature is the mining of kaolin in the St. Andreas white earth mine in Aue, which for a long time was the only source of raw materials for Meißen porcelain . In Hartenstein, not far from the later main shaft 371 of the Wismut, the only mining for mercury in Saxony took place.

The encounter with strong radioactive water on the Marx-Semler-Stolln under Oberschlema led to the establishment of the radium bath of the same name. After the Second World War, this tunnel was the starting point for the uranium exploration, which led to the founding of the Wismut Object 02 (Oberschlema) and the Wismut Object 03 (Schneeberg). In the course of uranium extraction in Oberschlema, the Niederschlema-Alberoda partial deposit (Wismut Object 09, renamed Mining Company Aue in 1967) was discovered and excavated. Uranium mining in Schneeberg ended in 1957 with an extraction of around 209 t of uranium; the extraction work in Oberschlema was stopped in 1961, the uranium extraction here was 7098 t. The intensive near-surface mining led to the almost complete destruction of Oberschlema. Uranium mining in the Niederschlema-Alberoda part of the deposit was carried out until 1990, with an extraction of around 73,105 t of uranium. The remaining resources identified in 1990 are around 2000 t of uranium with a further 4000 t of presumed uranium resources in the peripheral areas (Bernsbach) of the deposit. Small amounts of lead, nickel, copper, cobalt, bismuth, selenium and silver were also extracted as by-products. The Pöhla complex deposit was also explored by the Aue mining company and mining began.

The company first used existing mining facilities in Schneeberg and Oberschlema such as the “Weißer Hirsch”, Türkschacht or the “Marx-Semler-Stolln” pits . The depths specifications at the deposit Schlema-Alberoda relate to the latter, it is the 0 m- sole . The favorable uranium discoveries and new were in number faster shafts geteuft that the bismuth typical numbers were given. The shafts in the early days had a wooden winding tower and were surrounded by high wooden fences. In addition to many small shafts, there were also large shafts in the early days, some of which had considerable capacities. The shaft tubes had a rectangular cross-section and were built with wood. After the primitive early days, more modern technology was used in the mid-1950s. The many shafts were replaced by a few modern, high-performance systems. During this transition phase, on July 16, 1955, a mine fire broke out on the −480 m level in the area of ​​the filling point of blind shaft 208 bis . 33 miners and rescue workers were killed. The accident revealed many technical and organizational deficits of the SDAG Wismut at that time. During the modernization, old systems such as shaft 38 were completely revised (expansion of the shaft tube, new headframe and new conveyor systems, workshops, social building) or new shafts were sunk. The shaft 366 in Aue-Alberoda was the first shaft with a round, lined shaft tube. It was connected to the 540 m main lift level. The second new main facility was shaft 371, which is located on the Hartenstein corridor. The shaft was connected to the 540 and 990 m level and went into operation in 1959. In the mid-1960s, the Aue mining company had three modern main shafts (38, 366 and 371) as well as several efficient weather shafts. At that time, up to 4,000 tons of uranium were produced per year. From the 1970s, has been promoting concentrated on the shaft 371, and the other shafts were only for feeding materials and Seilfahrt used. At shaft 371 there was a radiometric processing plant that pre-sorted the ore before it was transported to Crossen. Several blind shafts opened up the deeper parts of the deposit. The 1800 m level was prepared as the last and deepest level in 1988. However, most of the uranium was extracted from a depth of less than 1200 m. There were a total of 48 extraction levels at a distance of 30 or 45 m. The mining company had a very high demand for energy because, on the one hand, large amounts of pit water had to be constantly lifted and, on the other hand, the fresh weather had to be cooled in order to enable work on the deep ground.

The tried and tested, but labor-intensive ridge construction method was used to mine the ore . In this case, be in the coating of a Erzganges routes ascended and over sculpting (smaller vertical mines connected) between two soles. Then the corridor between two overcuts is dismantled from bottom to top using drilling and blasting technology to the next level. The cavity is filled with waste rock during mining, so that the miners stand on the backfill during the mining . This mining technique allows only a limited mechanization , so that the miners had to use hand-held rotary hammers and could not use drill trucks as in road tunneling. The horizontal conveyance of the mine was track-bound. Stretches and excavations that were dropped were dammed up in order to minimize the entry of radon. The total length of the horizontal mine workings in the Niederschlema-Alberoda deposit is around 4,200 km, of which 176.3 km were still accessible at the end of 1990.

Production reached over 4,000 t of uranium per year in the mid-1960s; in the last full year of operation, 1989, it was only around 585 t of uranium. High-quality step ore made up a large proportion of the total uranium deposits in the deposit and was kept separately until the 1980s and sent directly to the USSR. Poor uranium ores were initially processed in the converted Oberschlema blue paint plant. From the mid-1950s, it was brought to the large Crossen processing plant near Zwickau. The uranium concentrate ( yellow cake ) produced in Crossen had a uranium content of around 70%. Ore was also processed in Seelingstädt in the last few years of operation. Sometimes the richer ore from Niederschlema-Alberoda was mixed with poorer ores from Ronneburg and processed together.

Geologically, the Schneeberg-Schlema-Alberoda deposit is located in the outer contact courtyard of the Eibenstock granite massif, which is around 300 million years old. The deposit is located on the Gera-Jachymov fault zone . The central element of the fault zone is the Rote Kamm , a fault mineralized with quartz and hematite , which marks the boundary between the partial deposits Schneeberg and Oberschlema. The vertical offset between the two reservoirs is 400–500 m. The Rote Kamm is visible in Oberschlema in an excellent geological outcrop , which belongs to the geotopes of Saxony. The uran-leading corridors run roughly parallel to the strike of the Red Ridge. The three sub-deposits contain a total of approximately 2000 mineralized veins. The distance between the individual corridors in Oberschlema was sometimes less than 10 m. The passage widths were usually between 0.1 m and 1 m, but could reach over 10 m in some areas. The uranium was mainly extracted from three different types of vein. The uranium-quartz- calcite veins, some 280 to 270 million years old, were the primary uranium mineralization and formed in the late phase of the Variscan orogeny. They are most widespread in Oberschlema. These courses were later partly overprinted by the magnesium uranium formation with dolomite as the main course (magnesium calcium carbonate). They supplied most of the uranium from the Niederschlema-Alberoda partial deposit. The last stage of mineralization was the BiCoNi formation , which was of great importance in Schneeberg. These are quartz carbonate veins that carry bismuth, cobalt, nickel, silver and, in some cases, uranium. However, the uranium is only rearranged from the older mineralizations. The main uranium mineral is pitchblende (collomorphic uraninite). Coffinite (uranium silicate) made up less than 5% of uranium mineralization.

The Schneeberg deposit is known for its variety of secondary uranium minerals, including many initial descriptions. The ore eruption on the “Walpurgis Flacher” vein of the “Weißer Hirsch” mine in 1871, which delivered five new uranium minerals ( walpurgin , trögerite , zeunerite , uranospinite , uranosphere ) , became famous . There are a large number of other types of veins with ages between 300 million and 5 million years, which, however, did not play an essential role in the extraction of uranium.

Minor rocks of the veins are partially carbon-rich and contact metamorphic schists, amphibolites, and skarns . These meta-sedimentary and meta-volcanic rocks from the Silurian and Ordovician belong to the Loessnitz-Zwönitzer basin and are framed by phyllites . The veins continue into the phyllites, but are hardly mineralized there. Dike structures in the underlying granite can also be traced, but they hardly contain any uranium in the granite. However, the granite is a potential source of the uranium in the corridors, as is the carbon-rich shale. Furthermore, igneous rocks in the form of kersantites occur.

With a total production of over 80,000 t of uranium, the Schneeberg-Schlema-Alberoda deposit is the largest of its kind in the world. Uranium mining in Niederschlema also holds the depth record for Europe with the deepest level at almost 2000 m underground . The rock temperatures on this floor were almost 70 ° C. The deepest shaft of the deposit was about 1400 m deep (shaft 382; flooded but still open as a weather shaft).

After the uranium extraction was stopped, the mining operation became the Aue renovation company (today the Aue branch of Wismut GmbH). The tasks include the safekeeping and securing of the underground mine building and the day shafts, the controlled flooding of the mine building including the treatment of the pit water before it is discharged into the Zwickau Mulde, the rehabilitation and removal of the above-ground operating facilities and the rehabilitation of the extensive dump areas. For legal reasons, Wismut GmbH is only responsible for the renovation of objects that were still owned by SDAG Wismut after 1962. Therefore the part of the Schneeberg deposit is not part of the remediation tasks, as is the dump 296 in the part of the Niederschlema. In recent years, however, the Aue branch of Wismut GmbH has also received orders for the monitoring and renovation of areas, heaps and facilities in Zobes and Johanngeorgenstadt outside of its core mandate. Pit buildings at other locations such as B. Schneeberg are partly kept by companies like Bergsicherung Schneeberg. The dumps are flattened and partially relocated starting from the greatest hazard (proximity to residential development) and then covered with 80 cm clayey material and 20 cm topsoil. The total dump volume is around 43 million m³. Today's Aue-Hartenstein motorway feeder ( BAB 72 ) leads over the site of the heap 366/186. The sludge pond in the Borbachtal, which was initially used for the tailings of uranium processing and later as a sedimentation basin for the pit water, has been drained and also covered. A replacement biotope had to be created for the rehabilitation of the sludge pond . Mines close to the surface, especially in the Schlema area, are safely stored and partially filled. The light hole 15IIb (Marx-Semler-Stolln) and the shaft 208 in Niederschlema are used for this. When renovating the mine workings, care must be taken to prevent the escape of radon-containing weather in the area of ​​the buildings in Schlema. The former fresh weather shaft 382 was converted into a weather shaft and is intended to ensure the removal of radon outside of Schlema. The mine building was flooded gradually up to the 60 m level (60 m below the level of the Marx-Semler-Stolln of the Zwickauer Mulde ). From there, the pit water is pumped out and treated in the Niederschlema water treatment plant (approx. 800–1000 m³ / h). Uranium, radium and heavy metals are removed. The pit water, which is still over 20 ° C, is then discharged into the Zwickauer Mulde. A colony of cormorants uses this location as winter quarters because of the warm water. Shaft 371 was open to visitors until the −540 m level was flooded in 1997. The processing residues are installed separately on the heap 371. The day shafts that are no longer used are partially filled and sealed and the daytime systems are gradually demolished or put to another use. The renovation costs at the Schlema-Alberoda site amounted to € 1,035 million by the end of 2015.

At the location of shaft 371 in Hartenstein is the Wismut deposit collection, which presents all of the company's deposits with their geology and mineralogy . The collection can be visited on certain dates and on request. The light hole 15IIb of the Marx-Semler-Stolln in Oberschlema can be visited as a visitor mine. The “Weißer Hirsch” pit in Schneeberg is also open to visitors on special occasions and on request. The former “Aktivist” cultural center in Schlema is home to the uranium ore mining museum. Schlema is today again a health resort (Bad Schlema) and houses a new radon bath with a spa district in the area of ​​the former Oberschlema. The radon water, however, does not come directly from the deposit, but from specially created holes in Gleesberg - granite .

Gera / Ronneburg

In the meantime, the pointed cone heaps near Paitzdorf have been removed
Headframe of the former shaft 403 of the
Drosen mining company
View over the "New Ronneburg Landscape" with the Schmirchauer Höhe

The occurrence of radioactive sources near Ronneburg in East Thuringia was already known before the Second World War, but they never achieved the fame or strength of the sources of Oberschlema or Jáchymov in the Ore Mountains. In 1949, Wismut began exploring uranium in the Ronneburg area. The search led to the discovery and mining of the largest uranium resource in Europe with a content of around 200,000 t of uranium. Around 113,000 t of this was mined by 1990 (resource extinction). As of January 1, 1991, the Bismut had a total remaining resource of 87,243.3 t for the Ronneburg ore field.

The deposit is located on the Gera-Jáchymov fault zone, to which the uranium deposits Přibram, Sokolov, Jáchymov (all Czech Republic), Pöhla-Tellerhäuser, Johanngeorgenstadt, Schneeberg-Schlema-Alberoda and Hauptmannsgrün-Neumark are bound. In contrast to the deposits mentioned (except Hauptmannsgrün-Neumark), the Ronneburg ore field is not a dike deposit, but a hydrothermally overprinted black shale deposit with uranium mineralization in paleozoic carbon-rich slates and diabases of the Ordovician and Silurian . The deposit consists of innumerable, irregularly shaped ore bodies of various sizes, each of which contains an average of 70 t of uranium. Mineralization in the bodies is controlled by fissures and faults and is highly sedimented, which means that the uranium distribution is very uneven. The ore averaged 0.07% -0.1% uranium.

Object 90 (from 1967 mining operation Gera) was responsible for the deposit until 1970. In that year the mining operations (BB) were split up into the mining operations Reust, Schmirchau and Paitzdorf, in 1974 and 1980 the mining operations Beerwalde and Drosen were added. The following companies were active on the deposit (indication of the total operating time of the mines):

  • Opencast mine Ronneburg (1950 to 1953)
  • Lichtenberg shaft (1950 to 1962, then part of BB Reust)
  • BB Reust (1957 to 1988, then part of BB Schmirchau)
  • BB Schmirchau (1950 to 1990, then renovation company Ronneburg)
  • Fire protection mine (1962 to 1969, then part of BB Reust)
  • Opencast mine (BB) Lichtenberg (1958 to 1976)
  • BB Paitzdorf (1954 to 1990, afterwards renovation company Ronneburg)
  • Stolzenberg opencast mine (1954 to 1957)
  • BB Beerwalde (depth 1967, self-employed from 1974, from 1991 to Drosen renovation company; contains field part Korbußen)
  • Shaft construction company (1977 to 1980; from BB Lichtenberg)
  • BB Drosen (depth from 1974; independent from 1980, from 1991 renovation company Drosen)

The Beerwalde and Drosen mining operations were to the north of Federal Motorway 4 , all others were to the south. The individual companies were merged in 1993 to form the Ronneburg renovation company based in Paitzdorf. A total of 3 open-cast mines were operated and 63 shafts and blind shafts were sunk. The deposit fell from south to north, the deepest mining took place in Drosen with a depth of around 900 m. Endogenous fires caused great problems in the 1950s and 1960s, which were triggered by the carbon and marcasite content in combination with unsuitable mining methods. In some cases, the production had to be stopped on individual levels and mining blocks, and the fire protection mine was founded. Due to a lack of experience, a large number of different mining methods were initially used in the Ronneburg deposit. Above all, quarrying methods were the cause of the endogenous fires. With the introduction of the partial level construction with offset, a productive and safe mining method for the deposit was found. To a small extent, the Wismut also used underground and heap leaching in Ronneburg to extract uranium. Wismut operated sand pits in Wolfersdorf and Kayna to obtain backfill for the excavation cavities of the mining operations.

Most of the ores were processed in the Seelingstädt processing plant 10 km south of Ronneburg. The ores were processed both alkaline and acidic. The technique depended on the geochemical composition (rich in carbonate or silicate) of the ore. The Seelingstädt processing plant was located at the location of the Culmitzsch uranium deposit, which was mined from 1951 to 1967. This deposit was not geologically related to the Ronneburg ore field.

The bismuth was an essential economic factor in the Gera region and contributed significantly to the growth of the city; For example, the Bieblach development area was expressly laid out as a miners' settlement.

After the mining activities were stopped in 1990, renovation work began here too. In the first five years, Wismut GmbH concentrated on the closure and safekeeping of around 1000 km of mine workings in underground operation. In 1997, the pits began to be flooded. In 1991, WISMUT GmbH began to clean up the heap above ground. The focus was on the safekeeping of the Lichtenberg opencast mine by relocating the heaps. The largest fleet of tippers in Europe rolled here, moving mountains in the truest sense of the word. As early as 1995, the Gessenhalde disappeared from the Lichtenberg opencast mine. This dump had a particularly high content of sulphides and was therefore a potential source of acidic solutions that could endanger the environment in the vicinity. The four pointed cone heaps near Paitzdorf and Reust, which were characteristic landmarks, were cleared between 2004 and 2006. The renovation costs at the Ronneburg site amounted to € 2,220 million by the end of 2015.

The bismuth redevelopment was an accompanying project for Expo 2000 ("Revitalization of the uranium ore mining landscape of East Thuringia"). The New Landscape Ronneburg , which was the exhibition space for the 2007 Federal Horticultural Show, was built on the site of the filled Lichtenberg opencast mine . The Aurora Resurrection in Löbichau was a BUGA accompanying project with reference to the mining of the Wismut .

Uranium ore mining near Ronneburg was a special case in that, unlike in the Ore Mountains and in Saxon Switzerland, Wismut could not fall back on any historically grown mining tradition.

Koenigstein deposit

Shaft 390 and 388 (vvnh)
Shaft 398 (sinking conveyor frame) before dismantling
Leupoldishain: Hunt in memory of the uranium mining of the Wismut NL Königstein

In the area around Königstein and Rosenthal , geological explorations began in 1961, which in 1963 led to the mining of a minable deposit near Leupoldishain . This belonged to the type of sandstone deposits . The uranium mineralization is essentially bound to cenomane sediments and formed as flat ore bodies. A total of 30,000 t of uranium was explored over an area of ​​25 km². The production started in 1967 opened up a 7.1 km² mine field between the towns of Struppen , Königstein , Hütten , Bielatal and Langenhennersdorf . Up to 1990, 18,006 t of uranium had been extracted from this, including 12,251 t through conventional mining and 5,755 t through underground and heap leaching as well as shaft water purification. The peaks of funding were the years 1971–1978 with annual delivery rates of 1000 to 1200 t. In the 1980s, mining fell to around 450 t per year. Nevertheless, the Königstein mining operation was the most cost-effective operation of the SDAG Wismut at that time. In the course of the remediation, residual quantities were also extracted in the 1990s and uranium was "disposed of" on the market as a "by-product" of mine water purification up to the present day. In 2008 this was 77 t. In 2011, approx. 51.2 t uranium, in 2012 a further 50.3 t uranium and in 2013/2014 a further 62.4 t uranium, which were incurred during flooding water treatment, were sold to the Czech company Diamo sp for further processing. In 2016, 44 tons of extracted uranium were sold to an American company for a price of around 750,000 euros. A total of around 2,000 tons of uranium from the Königstein mine were used between 1990 and 2016.

The number of employees was around 2200 until 1990. This made the mine one of the most important employers in the Saxon Switzerland region for many years . In 2005 there were still around 365 employees, at the beginning of 2012 around 250 employees were still employed in the renovation. By May 2016, the number had been reduced to around 150 employees.

Some of the mining company's facilities are in the immediate field of vision of Königstein Fortress on the B 172 near Leupoldishain. Here Wismut built two shafts (390 and 388), machine houses, a substation, a compressor station, administration building and material storage areas. Altogether there were five shafts in Königstein, apart from the two named, the already discarded and filled shafts 387, 392 and 398. The deposit itself was built on four levels at 25, 50, 94 and 135  m above sea level. NN aligned. The +25 m level, the deepest level in the pit, is located around 300 m underground at the main shaft 390. Due to the location of the mine in the significant Elbe Sandstone Mountains landscape protection area , it was not permitted to dump the overburden on high heaps , so that natural gorges in the area (bowl base) were used to store the overburden.

Transporting the ore to the processing plants in Crossen and Seelingstädt proved to be complicated . Due to the difference in altitude of 150 m, the Königstein mine could not be connected directly to the Elbe Valley Railway . The loading station therefore became the Pirna-Rottwerndorf station of the Gottleubatalbahn . Although underground transport was favored for economic and ecological reasons, the Wismut built a cable car (length 4.4 km; 175 gondolas of 1 m³) due to time constraints. During the main operating hours, seven trains with 13 wagons each left the loading station every day.

Since the mid-1970s, the mining conditions have deteriorated due to the decreasing uranium content and less favorable strike directions of the mineralization. That is why Wismut decided to replace conventional mining with chemical extraction methods that had been tested since the late 1960s and used as planned alongside conventional extraction. In 1984 it was completely converted to unconventional extraction. The three procedures were

  • the leaching of poverty on the Schüsselgrundhalde
  • the separation of uranium from the shaft water
  • Underground leaching (as the main process).

Surface drilling leaching, as used in many sandstone-bound uranium deposits, has been considered but not used. During the underground leaching, the uranium-bearing sandstone was loosened in blocks by blasting (stored in a magazine) and leached with a sulfuric acid solution (4 g H 2 SO 4 per liter of water). In the years that followed, around 160,000 t of sulfuric acid were used and around 50 million t of rock came into contact with the solution. In Königstein, a uranium-rich solution was produced as an intermediate product from the leaching and transported in tank trucks by rail to Seelingstädt , where the chemical end product was produced. From the beginning of the 1980s, a complex ion exchange plant was built in Königstein . The uranium-containing wash-out water from the plant was precipitated in recirculators with barium salts and the uranium sludge could be separated out. This eliminated the cumbersome transport by tank car to Seelingstädt. The rinsing of the acid residues in the sandstone layers had to be continued after the mining stopped in 1990. The individual pit structures could only be flooded after the flushing was successful. At the beginning of the 2000s, an extensive surface neutralization system for the remaining acid mine water was put into operation. The main concern was not to let acid mine water or uranium-containing circulating water get into the groundwater.

The renovation in Königstein was particularly time-consuming and costly, as there was hardly any useful experience to draw on when decommissioning chemically operated uranium mines. So the flooding was only initiated gradually in 2001 after extensive preparations. In the course of 2012, the underground renovation was completed and the last shaft thrown out. Flooding of the mine was stopped in mid-2013 by the Saxon Mining Authority, as the further rising pit water poses the risk of contaminating an aquifer with uranium and other heavy metals beyond the permitted level. Since then, the water level has been artificially kept at a level of 140 meters above sea level. At the beginning of 2017, the pumped pit water still had a uranium content of 8 milligrams per liter, whereas the permitted limit is 0.03 milligrams per liter, and the natural uranium content of the Elbe is only 0.001 milligrams per liter.

In September 2014, the dismantling of the daytime facilities around the winding towers of the double shaft system 388/390 began above ground and was dismantled by mid-2015. At the beginning of 2017, the construction of a new functional building with offices, laboratories, changing rooms and a technology warehouse began. The old functional and administrative building is to be demolished from 2020. The renewal of the water treatment plant should take place by 2020. In future, it is planned that the uranium filtered from the mine water and bound in sludge will no longer be transported away, but instead will be finally stored in a special area on the factory premises. The cover and greening of the Schüsselhalde is expected to be completed by 2025. Overall, the core renovation and thus the essential surface renovations and dismantling work is to be carried out by 2025, but environmental monitoring work will also be necessary beyond this according to the renovation program. The new water treatment plant to be built is designed for an operating period of 30 years.

The renovation costs at the Königstein site amounted to € 1,070 million by the end of 2015.

Culmitzsch deposit

Dumps of the former deposit, today the Culmitzsch industrial tailing plant. Below the village of Wolfersdorf

Culmitzsch represents the fourth largest uranium deposit that was explored and mined by the bismuth. It is located 10 km south of the city of Ronneburg in the district of Greiz . It was assigned to the object 90 based in Gera. The production took place from three partial deposits:

  • Sorge / Trünzig - Katzendorf (1952 to 1957; uranium extinction: 2294.6 t)
  • Gauern (1954 to 1957; uranium extinction: 427.7 t)
  • Culmitzsch (1955 to 1967; uranium extinction: 9,216.6 t)

The average uranium content in the ore was between 0.059% and 0.068%. The mentioned partial deposits are considered to be completely dismantled, with resources remaining on the flanks being written off for economic / mining considerations. In addition, there is the Gera-Süd exploration area in the north of the deposit, for which resources of 3350 t of uranium were identified on January 1, 1991. During the underground exploration by the Reust mining company, 19.4 t of the resources were cleared. The geological conditions, which were difficult to control by mining, prevented further extraction work in this part of the deposit.

The Trünzig and Culmitzsch opencast mines were used as sludge ponds for the tailings of the Seelingstädt processing plant after the uranium extraction had ceased.

The mineralization formed in two horizons is bound to Zechstein sediments, which consist of carbon-rich claystones, sandstones and dolomites. The uranium mineralization in these sediments consists of finely dispersed uranium black . At the base of the deposit, a conglomerate occurs that is partially cemented with pitchblende and has mineralized remains of conifers . The cell walls of the fossil wood consist of pitchblende, the inside of the cells of galena . Uranium mica also appeared in the oxidation zone of the deposit, and coffinite occurred in the Gera-Süd exploration area . Uranium suppliers for the mineralization were presumably uranium-rich weathering solutions, which deposited the uranium under the reduced conditions of the carbon-rich sediments. In addition to the oxidic uranium mineralization, there was also sulphidic, non-degradable mineralization of zinc, lead, copper, iron, arsenic, cobalt, nickel and antimony.

The deposit was also used as an industrial sedimentation facility during the uranium extraction. Fine-grained residues of the uranium ore processing were washed in via pipelines and stored. The renovation should continue for many years. After successful renovation, the site will be open to the public.

Panorama of the industrial tailings plant (IAA) Culmitzsch, June 2015

Zobes / Bergen deposit

The Zobes / Bergen deposit is located in the Vogtland near the Pöhl dam . It consists of the mined but geologically different parts of Zobe in the east and Bergen in the west.

The exploration work by the Bismut in Zobes began in 1949. Before that, no mining took place on the deposit. The mine field covered about 6 km². Production began in 1950 and peaked in 1956 with a production of 688 t of uranium. Mining was discontinued in 1963 after 5030.9 t of uranium reserves had been deleted, corresponding to production of around 4600 t of uranium. Mining in Bergen was operated from 1949 to 1959 with a quenching of 197.4 tons of uranium, which corresponds to a production of about 160 tons. In Zobes, mining was carried out to a depth of 733 m; in Bergen, mining only reached a depth of 428 m. A small amount of copper ore was also extracted and sent to Mansfeld for processing .

The Zobes deposit is located in a series of meta-sedimentary rocks known as the “Zobes horizon”. These are Paleozoic phyllitic Slate, phyllitic Schluffschiefer with quartzite intercalations, alum and chert with intercalated limestones and amphibolitic diabase and Spilitgesteinen . The deposit is located in the contact yard of the Bergen granite, which means that the rocks are also overprinted with contact metamorphism and skarns have formed. Various igneous rocks also occur. The veins have their highest grade within the Zobes horizon. The uranium ores occur mainly in late Variscan quartz-calcite uranium veins and, to a lesser extent, in post-variscan quartz veins with bismuth, cobalt and nickel arsenides . The main uranium mineral is pitchblende; a large number of secondary uranium minerals occur subordinately. The skarn horizons of the deposit have some interesting grades of scheelite (a tungsten mineral) and were explored for this after the uranium mining stopped. WO 3 reserves of 4950 t were calculated, but the mineralization was assessed as not being exploitable.

The Bergen deposit was located within the granite of the same name . A few tunnels were formed within the granite and, in addition to pitchblende, led increasingly to uranium mica. The deposit is best known for its superbly formed uranocircite and autunite . Also, the uranium phosphate Bergenit named after her. Part of the deposit is exposed by a granite quarry that was built later.

Freital / Dresden-Gittersee deposit

Marienschacht in Bannewitz with winding tower (Malakow tower) and machine house
Winder from shaft 2 and headframe from weather shaft 3 of the Freitaler Revier at their new location at the
Oelsnitz / Erzgebirge mining museum


In Freital near Dresden , coal mining was carried out from the middle of the 16th century until after the Second World War. The Freitaler Revier was after the Zwickau and the Lugau-Oelsnitzer Revier the third largest Saxon coal mining area. After the Second World War, the history of the area was very eventful. Object 06 of the Wismut investigated radioactive anomalies in the Heidenschanze construction site with several shafts and pits between 1947 and 1950 . Exploration work was also carried out in the Lower Revier in Freital Burgk, in the Oppelschacht and in the Kohlsdorf-Pesterwitz secondary hollow. From January 1, 1950, object 15 continued work. In 1950, VVB Steinkohle began digging shafts 1 and 2 in Dresden-Gittersee . In June 1952, the Wismut took over the two shafts in the depths. In mid-1952, the newly founded object 49 took over all the facilities. In 1953, the bismuth sank shafts 360 (shaft 3) and 361 (shaft 4). At the end of 1954 the mining of ore coal was stopped. Unsolved problems in the processing of ore coal and the discovery of the Ronneburg deposit prompted the SDAG Wismut to give up the area. On December 31, 1955, all work was stopped and the pits were handed over to VVB Steinkohle, VEB Steinkohlenwerk Freital .

In 1958 the Heidenschanze area was dropped. At times, Wismut bought ore-containing coal from the Freital hard coal works. For this purpose, Wismut had its own employees to determine the uranium content in the mine. In 1967 the energy coal production of the now " Willi Agatz " coal works in Dresden-Gittersee was stopped. On January 1, 1968, Wismut took over the facilities again and until November 30, 1989, it produced so-called ore coal for the extraction of uranium. All remaining resources of the deposit in the amount of 2970 t. were written off as off-balance sheet inventories in 1989. The mining company "Willi Agatz" was merged with the mining company Königstein in 1990 under his management.

The uranium production in the Gittersee, Heidenschanze and Bannewitz districts totaled 3691 t, which corresponds to a quenching of 3890 t uranium with an average uranium content of 0.109%. Hard coal production in Freital totaled around 40 million t. Property 96 with its processing factories Freital (factory 93) and Gittersee (factory 95) was responsible for processing the ores . From 1963, processing took place in Factory 101 in Crossen.


In the bismuth tunnel

The redevelopment of the site is carried out by the Königstein branch . After the mines and the shafts had been custody, the controlled flooding of the Gittersee district began. For this purpose, production wells were drilled in which powerful pumps were installed. These were dimensioned in such a way that the flooding level could be lowered again if necessary. When in the middle of the 2000s, as expected, a natural water flow did not set in, several springs emerged in the urban area of ​​Freital. Thereupon the flood water level was lowered again, whereby the springs dried up again.

Since 2007, an approx. 3 km long wing location between the Tiefen Elbstolln and the former shaft III in Freital-Zauckerode has been excavated for the final solution of the pending pit water . This wing location is called "Wismut-Stolln" by the company management , although it is not a tunnel because it will not have its own mouth hole. At the end of 2011, the access ramp (370 meters long, 60 meters difference in altitude) and 320 m adit to the south-east and 1680 m to the north-east were completed. From the end of 2013, the pit water is to be discharged via the "Wismut-Stolln", in 2015 all major renovation work at the Gittersee site is to be completed. The renovation costs at the Gittersee site amounted to € 130 million by the end of 2015.


The Freital hard coal deposit is located in the Döhlen Basin between the Ore Mountains and the Elbe Valley Trench . The seams are connected in a volcanic-sedimentary sequence from the Rotliegend and thus significantly younger than the seams in Zwickau or Oelsnitz . The uranium mineralization occurs only in a limited part of the coal field. The uranium occurs finely divided in some seams , coal-like slates and arkose sandstones . The carbonaceous substance precipitated the uranium from solutions that may have been supplied by the acidic volcanic rocks in the area. In addition to uranium, zinc, lead, arsenic, molybdenum , vanadium and germanium also occur in increased concentrations.

Johanngeorgenstadt deposit

Johanngeorgenstadt is located in the western Ore Mountains, right on the border with the Czech Republic. The city has a long mining tradition that began with the mining of iron and tin in the 16th century. In the middle of the 17th century, rich silver ores were found. The Berlin pharmacist and chemist MH Klaproth also received samples of pitchblende from here , in which he discovered the element uranium in 1789 (“George Wagsfort” pit). The total output in the mining area was around 28 tons of uranium ore with a metal content of approx. 4.4 tons up to 1945.

Parts of the old town of Johanngeorgenstadt were demolished and reforested from 1953 due to subsidence

After the Second World War, Johanngeorgenstadt was the first deposit that the Soviet experts were interested in. Probably in September 1946, Wismut's first production facility, the Wismut Objekt 01, was founded. The bismuth first used existing tunnels and shafts. The “Frisch Glück Kunst und Treibeschacht” ( blind shaft ) of the United Feld mine in Fastenberge became “Shaft 1” and is still accessible today as a visitor mine . The first inventory estimate after World War II assumed a resource of 22.2 tons of uranium for the deposit. The actual quenching of supplies when operations ceased in 1958 was 4100 t of uranium. This results in a production of 3770 t uranium. This includes 185 tons of uranium that were mined by the bismuth between 1954 and 1958 under the Czechoslovakian town of Potůčky ( Breitenbach ) due to an intergovernmental regulation . The Czechoslovakia operational from 1946 to 1951 but also its own uranium exploration and production on their part of the deposit and promoted while 18.1 tons of uranium.

The deposit is located on the edge of the Gera-Jáchymov fault zone ( Finne fault zone ). Side rocks of the veins are phyllites , amphibolites and subordinate granites . The main uranium mineral is pitchblende; secondary uranium minerals also occur to a lesser extent.

After the experience in the Oberschlema deposit, Wismut pushed for an evacuation and demolition of the old town from 1951. At that time, the effects of mining on the old town of Johanngeorgenstadt were not foreseeable. Due to the lack of near-surface mineralization, however, the effects of mining on the old town remained manageable. 4000 residents were resettled between 1953 and 1957.

Complex deposit Pöhla

Oral hole of the tunnel excavated in 1967 leading to the Hämmerlein and Tellerhäuser partial deposits
Veins in Pöhla-Hämmerlein

Pöhla is a place in the western Ore Mountains in the Ore Mountains District . As early as the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Wismut explored the region for uranium and there was a slight mining of uranium. This early work was carried out by object 08/103 . The subsequent exploration and mining work on the deposit was the responsibility of the Aue mining company.

The Globenstein partial deposit is located in the area of ​​the village of Pöhla . This was explored by the bismuth until 1960. A significant uranium mineralization could not be determined, however a significant skarn mineralization with magnetite , sulfides and cassiterite (tin stone) was discovered. The VEB Geologische Erundung Süd, Freiberg in cooperation with the Maxhütte Unterwellenborn carried out further exploration work in this part of the deposit after the bismuth.

In the 1960s, SDAG Wismut found radioactive anomalies with partially visible pitch blende and tin mineralization in boreholes in the Hämmerlein and Tellerhäuser area. Therefore, in 1967 a tunnel was opened from the Luchsbachtal on the edge of Pöhla in the direction of Hämmerlein and Tellerhäuser. This tunnel reached a total length of 7,845 m, with the Hämmerlein partial deposit being opened up at around 3 km. The Tellerhäuser partial deposit in the rear area of ​​the tunnel was accessed via two blind shafts , the depth of which began in 1970 and 1976 respectively. The scheduled uranium extraction in Tellerhäuser began in 1983 and stopped on December 31, 1990. 1203.6 tons of uranium were produced (extinction 1307.5 tons). On July 1, 1991, the bismuth had residual reserves of 3746.9 t of uranium. In addition to the extraction of uranium, a small amount of magnetite was mined. It was used as an aggregate for the concrete of the nuclear power plants in Lubmin and Stendal . A relatively rich silver burst on the +120 m level in 1990, shortly before mining was stopped, gained some notoriety . A few tons of silver ore were extracted, but not processed. The ore consisted mainly of overgrown with native silver sterling arsenic and (subordinated) Proustite . The responsible authorities of the GDR had already decided in the mid-1980s to stop silver exploration and extraction in Pöhla and Niederschlema-Alberoda, as the processing of the ores in Crossen and Freiberg was very expensive due to the high arsenic content and associated with high environmental pollution.

The uranium mineralization in the Hämmerlein area turned out to be insignificant; During the exploration work, 12.8 t of uranium were extracted; no further mineralization worthy of construction was found. However, extensive tin mineralization was found and intensively explored. The positive results of the tin exploration in Hämmerlein led to a resumption of exploration work in Globenstein. Here, too, extensive tin reserves and significant tungsten mineralization were discovered. This was followed by experimental mining in Hämmerlein as well as processing and smelting attempts of the ore in Crossen. The difficult mineralogy of the tin and tungsten ores in the Skarnen made the processing very complex and expensive, although the ore content is better than in the tin deposits in Altenberg and Ehrenfriedersdorf, which were operated until 1991. As a result of the exploration work, the Wismut identified a total of 277,000 tons of tin, 70,000 tons of tungsten, 400,000 tons of zinc, 7.7 million tons of magnetite and significant indium and cadmium contents for the three partial deposits . In 2006 Wisutec received an exploration permit from the Saxon Mining Authority to re-explore the tungsten mineralization in Globenstein, which was revoked after three years in 2010 due to inactivity of the company.

Like all significant uranium deposits in the western Ore Mountains, the Pöhla deposit field is located in the area of ​​the Gera-Jachymov fault zone and in the outer contact area of the Eibenstock granite massif. The rocks of the deposit are Paleozoic metasediments. Carbonate horizons contained therein were partly converted into skarns and mineralized with various metals as a result of the granite intrusion towards the end of the Variscan orogeny . Subsequently, a quartz-cassiterite mineralization formed on innumerable parallel fissures (so-called "shale ore"). These fissures are also responsible for the mineralization of the skarn with cassiterite. Subsequently, hydrothermal mineralization with uranium occurred on crevices. The gait types are the same as those in Schneeberg-Schlema-Alberoda. Quartz-calcite-uranium ore veins are the oldest, followed by dolomite-uranium veins. The most recent formations are quartz-carbonate veins with bismuth-cobalt-nickel ores as well as silver, arsenic and subordinate uranium.

The Pöhla-Hämmerlein partial deposit is accessible as a visitor mine, and all major types of mineralization are visible to visitors there. In the "Morgenstern-Stolln", a small show mine in Pöhla not far from the main Wismut tunnel, the Scheelite mineralization is open.

Smaller business premises

Schwarzenberg and surroundings (Object 08/103)

Dump of shaft 235 in Antonsthal (Weißer Hirsch area) in 2008

Schwarzenberg is located in the Western Ore Mountains 10 km south of Aue. As in many places in the Ore Mountains, there is also a long mining tradition here with the extraction of silver, iron, copper, tin and zinc. Object 08 of Wismut AG searched for uranium in the region from 1946. In 1950 it was renamed Object 103 and in 1954 it was attached to Object 01 (Johanngeorgenstadt). Object 08 opened up 14 small mine fields between Schwarzenberg in the north, Raschau in the east, the Czech border in the south and Antonsthal in the west. Furthermore, there were still some exploration areas without a positive result. The total production of all mines up to the cessation of production in 1959 was 1365 t of uranium, of which the "Weißer Hirsch" field (235 shaft in Antonsthal) delivered 747 t and the Seifenbach field near Rabenberg in the south 233 t. All other mines had a production of less than 100 tons of uranium.

Side rocks of the veins are Paleocese gneisses, schists, skarns and amphibolites. During exploration work in the 1960s and 1970s, the SDAG Wismut determined prognostic resources of 28,000 t of tin, 23,000 t of tungsten, 95,000 t of zinc and other metals in the Antonsthal area. On November 5, 2007, the Saxon Mining Authority granted Deutsche Rohstoff AG (Heidelberg) permission to search for mineral resources near Antonsthal. In 2010, the permit was returned by the company.

Schneckenstein / Gottesberg

About 10 km southeast of the city of Auerbach / Vogtl. are the two neighboring but separate uranium districts Gottesberg and Schneckenstein (Tannenbergsthal) . The smaller Gottesberg district adjoins the municipality of Tannenbergsthal in the southeast , while the larger Schneckenstein deposit is located about 2.5 km south of Tannenbergsthal. In this area there was ancient mining for silver, bismuth and especially tin. Between 1863 and 1873 there was also a small production of uranium as a by-product in Gottesberg. It is also worth mentioning the mining of precious stone topaz from the eponymous topaz rock, Schneckenstein , a protected geotope.

As early as 1946, there were short-term investigations into uranium in the mining area in old Gottesberger mine structures, but with negative results. The uranium exploration was resumed in 1948, this time with positive results. Uranium mining began in both mining areas in 1949. The processing plant was taken over from the Tannenberg tin ore mine, which was located between the two uranium mining areas and was active until 1964 , but not the mine building. Up until the end of mining in 1959, 1163 t of supplies had been cleared in the Schneckenstein mining area (953 t of uranium was extracted). The Gottesberg district produced 68.6 t of uranium between 1949 and 1955. Mining on tin in Gottesberg continued parallel to uranium mining and was discontinued in 1954.

The processing plant for the tin ore mine, which was taken over in 1946, was the first to process bismuth. It was already processing uranium ores from the Ore Mountains before uranium mining began near Tannenbergsthal. Ores from Thuringia were added later. The facility was used until 1957 and then partially demolished. After the uranium extraction stopped, some of the facilities and mines in the Schneckenstein district were handed over to VEB Wolfram-Zinnerz Pechtelsgrün, which mined barite until 1991. For this purpose, Wismut drove a 1200 m long tunnel from Brundöbra in the direction of shaft 244 of the district as a commissioned work in order to better develop the barite deposit.

In the Schneckensteiner Revier, the north-west trending uranium veins occur in contact metamorphic meta-sediments and meta-basites of the Ordovician . The contact between the meta-sediments and the granite is now open in the Tannenberg visitor mine. There are essentially two uranium-bearing vein types: older quartz veins with pitchblende, hematite and some calcite as well as younger "biconi" veins with quartz, carbonates, arsenides, solid bismuth, solid arsenic and solid silver as well as rearranged pitchblende. The main tectonic element is the barite fault, which is 20 m thick on average (up to a maximum of 50 m) and leads to younger barite-quartz-hematite mineralization. The fault contains approximately 3.6 million tons of raw ore and was the target of barite mining. There is no uranium mineralization on the fault itself, but it does control the parallel uranium veins. The entire Gottesberger deposit lies within the Eibenstocker granite, some of which is aged . In addition to the partly vein-shaped greisen with tin-tungsten mineralization, veins with quartz, fluorite, hematite and primary pitchblende as well as quartz-sulfide veins with rearranged pitchblende occur. The deposit has also formed a pronounced oxidation zone with many secondary uranium minerals. The area is home to even greater tin (103,000 t) and copper (64,000 t) resources. On November 5, 2007, the Saxon Mining Authority granted Deutsche Rohstoff AG the mining license to carry out exploratory work on the Gottesberg tin deposit.


Dump of shaft 116 in Annaberg-Buchholz

In and around Annaberg-Buchholz there was mining since the 15th century, starting with copper and tin and followed by silver. The bismuth began with the exploration and extraction in 1947 by the object 04 and ended the mining in 1958. During this period about 500 t uranium was extracted. The ore veins mined by the bismuth in the Annaberg gneisses mainly contained pitchblende, which was often fused with cobalt, nickel, bismuth and silver minerals. The bismuth did not extract these minor ores. In Annaberg-Buchholz there are currently two visitor mines whose facilities were previously used by the Wismut: the Markus-Röhling-Stolln and the Dorothea-Stolln.

Bear stone precipitation

Immediately, near to the Czech border in the western Erzgebirge Oberwiesenthal is the transition deposit Bärenstein - precipitation . The Wismut AG / SDAG operated here from 1947 exploration through various objects, the extraction was carried out by the object 07 based in Bärenstein (later moved to Annaberg ). Bismuth preceded the mining of silver, iron, tin and copper from at least the middle of the 16th century. In the 1920s and 1930s there were unsuccessful attempts to mine uranium. Through the bismuth, 132.7 tons of uranium were extracted up to 1954, mainly from the southern part of the deposit. The estimated remaining reserves amount to up to 200 tons of uranium. After setting the uranium extraction in 1954 the deposit part precipitate to 1988 on fluorite and barite explored and to a depth of 900 meters a significant mineralization with these industrial minerals in the footwall of the uranium mineralization found. The proven geological reserves amount to 1.4 million tons of fluorite and 550,000 tons of barite. In 2008 the Erzgebirgische Fluss- und Schwerspatcompagnie received the mining rights for a 6.8 square kilometer mine field. After the end of the last expansion stage in 2014 [obsolete] 135,000 tons of fluorspar will be extracted annually .

Dittrichshütte, Steinach and Schleusingen districts (Thuringia)

In the south of Thuringia, small uranium deposits were discovered in the Thuringian slate mountains and the Thuringian Forest in the early 1950s. As a result, three small deposits were dismantled. The Dittrichshütte deposit west of Saalfeld and south of Bad Blankenburg is bound to Silurian and Ordovician slate. The work was carried out by objects 27, 30 and 41. In 1954, all of the remaining facilities were transferred to Object 90 (Gera). The uranium mineralization occurs at fissures, faults and rustling zones in the form of uranium blackness, secondary uranium minerals and, more rarely, pitchblende. The average uranium content was 0.032%. The deposit was mined underground and 112.62 tons of uranium were produced between 1950 and 1954. In Steinach in the southeast of the Thuringian Forest, Wismut AG operated a small open-cast mine. Here, too, uranium mineralization occurs in Paleozoic schists. In 1953 and 1954, 43.55 t of uranium were extracted here with an average uranium content of 0.041% in the ore. The open-cast mine is now a fishing lake. In the vicinity of Schleusingen near Suhl, the Wismut explored several small ore deposits that are bound to the Triassic red sandstone. Only the Hirschbach I deposit, which delivered 14 t of uranium, was mined underground. Mining ceased in late 1953.

Marienberg deposit

The heap of shaft 139 in Lauta near Marienberg is used as gravel

The old mountain town of Marienberg is located in the central Ore Mountains. This city also owes its existence to silver mining. Tin, iron, cobalt, nickel, arsenic, copper and uranium were also extracted. The last silver mine closed in 1899. The exploration for uranium ores by Wismut AG began in 1947, the object was first numbered 22, then 05 and was finally connected to object 111 (merger of objects 07 and 04) in Annaberg. Uranium mining extended from Pobershau in the east via Marienberg to Selva in the west. Mining was stopped again in 1954 with a total production of 121 tons of uranium. After the uranium extraction stopped, some of the Wismut plants were transferred to the VEB Erzgebirgische Spatgruben Bärenstein (since 1957 tin and spar mines in Ehrenfriedersdorf) for the purpose of fluorite exploration. Large reserves of barite and fluorite were found. 30,000 t of fluorite had been mined by 1958. The remaining stocks are 45,000 t. The renovation of shaft 302 was completed in 2006 by Wismut GmbH and handed over to the city of Marienberg for subsequent use as a geothermal system.

Bärenhecke deposit (shaft 209)

This deposit, explored in 1948, was part of the former Glashütte mining area. Silver, copper and lead had been mined at the Bärenhecke site since 1458, but mining stopped in 1875. During the new exploration, uranium reserves of approx. 44 t were found, which were completely mined by 1954. Up to 388 miners (1953) were employed in the small mine field (area 0.85 km²). The renovation and recultivation (removal of mining damage , safekeeping of the mine workings) took place in the 1960s.

Niederpöbel deposit

Similar to the Bärenhecke site, mining in the Pöbeltal south of Schmiedeberg can look back on a long tradition. Silver, copper and lead in particular have been mined here since around 1473, but mining stopped in 1889. In 1948 a 15 km² uranium ore deposit was explored. The underground mine field that was subsequently put into operation only covered an area of ​​approx. 1.2 km². By November 1954, the deposit was almost completely dismantled, with up to 600 employees (1953) extracting around 30 t of uranium. The renovation and recultivation took place in the 1960s.

Johnsbach deposit

The Johnsbach deposit comprised an extremely small deposit, which was located south of the place of the same name and about 1.5 km west of the Bärenhecke deposit . It was discovered in 1949 at a depth of 100 to 120 m. Detailed information on the scope of the exploration and mining work has not been preserved.

Freiberg Revier (Object 26)

In the oldest ore mining area in Saxony , uranium was extracted as an accompanying material in silver and non-ferrous metal mining as early as 1945, but only to a small extent. The dismantling included z. B. between 1883 and 1897 only about 4.4 tons of uranium ore. From 1947/48, the old heaps and shafts were examined again with regard to their uranium content. However, the results fell short of expectations. In this way, only 8 kg of uranium could be extracted from the heaps searched. The mine fields examined were not very productive either, and production was only resumed in a few shafts. The focus of uranium extraction was the Himmelfahrt Fundgrube in Freiberg, uranium was also extracted in the Brander Revier to the south. The uranium mineralization occurred mainly at the intersection of kb veins (gritty, blinding veins with quartz and non-ferrous metal sulfides) with fba veins (fluorobaritic lead veins with barite, fluorite and galena). The low productivity led to the cessation of uranium mining in the Freiberg mining area as early as 1950 . Up to then, 5.4 t of uranium had been extracted, another 1.9 t of reserves were written off as uneconomical.

Further exploration areas

Up until almost the end of production in 1990, Wismut AG / SDAG Wismut carried out exploration work for uranium, which included the entire territory of the GDR. In addition to exploring the edge areas of known deposits, searches were also carried out in areas without known uranium mineralization for new deposits.

In virgin exploration areas, the search was based on the geological conditions of known uranium deposits worldwide and tried to estimate the uranium probability of the exploration areas based on this. The intensity and effort of the search work in the respective area was based on this. In some regions in the north of the GDR, only large-meshed geophysical work was carried out and geological data from the oil / gas exploration were evaluated. In other regions, however, there was intensive exploration work with our own drilling programs and some mining work.

More intensive exploration work has been carried out in the following regions:

In addition to the discovery of the mined deposits described, the bismuth was able to detect further uranium mineralization and smaller deposits in some regions. The following non-mined deposits were shown as prognostic resources in the last inventory balance of the Wismut from 1991:

Ore processing

View of the former basin for processing residues from Factory 79 on the outskirts of Johanngeorgenstadt
Basin for processing
residues from the processing plant Seelingstädt 1990. In the foreground a KrAZ-256B

The bismuth produced a total of 230,400 t of uranium until 1990, which was supplied to the Soviet Union in the form of various products. These were "ores" and chemical concentrates of various qualities. Most of the uranium from the vein deposits in the Ore Mountains and Vogtland was delivered to the Soviet Union in the form of commodity ores. The production of these ores began z. Sometimes directly on the mine or in sorting plants at the shafts by sorting out ores that contained more than one percent uranium. The ore content was determined on the basis of the gamma radiation of the ores. The ores were collected and sampled at sampling mines before they were sent by rail. The most important of these plants was the Zeche 50 in Aue, which was operated until 1980. Ores with an uranium content of less than one percent were delivered as "factory ores" to the processing plants, where mechanical concentrates with an average uranium content of around 5% were produced and also delivered to the Soviet Union as commodity ores. Of the 81,000 t of uranium in commodity ore, around 15,000 t came directly from the mines and 66,000 t from processing plants. The production of commodity ores was stopped in 1980, after which only chemical concentrates were produced. Ores from the non-vein deposits of the bismuth were chemically treated from the beginning, as the relatively even distribution of uranium in these ores made mechanical sorting ineffective.

Some mines had radiometric automatic processing plants (RAF) or sorting facilities (RAS) in which the factory ore was enriched before it was sent to the processing facilities. Several shafts from the early days of the Wismut had RAS. The 371 shaft (Hartenstein), the Pöhla mine and the “Willi Agatz” mining company (Freital) owned RAF. The Schmirchau mining company (Ronneburg) had a fine grain washing system from 1960 to 1970. The pre-sorting worked particularly well for the vein deposits in the Ore Mountains, while it was not very effective for the Ronneburg deposit. Most of the ore from Ronneburg was sent to the central processing plants without any further pre-treatment.

To process the ores, Wismut operated several processing plants, which in most cases it had taken over from other companies. In the early years, the following smaller plants were in operation: object 31 with factory 75 in Lengenfeld (Vogtland, processing of the Pechtelsgrün wolframite mine ), object 32 with factory 60 in Tannenbergsthal (Vogtland, former tin processing), object 96 with the Factories 93 (Freital) and 95 (newly built Dresden Gittersee ), the object 98 / factory 79 in Johanngeorgenstadt (newly built), the object 99 in Oberschlema (former blue color factory ) and the object 100 in Aue ( nickel smelter ). The systems produced various products, on the one hand, after a radiometric sorting, further ores were sorted out, as well as wet mechanical concentrates and chemical concentrates (" yellow cake "). These plants processed a total of around 18 million tons of ore. The last of these small processing operations was shut down in Freital in 1962. However, some continued to be used by other companies.

Object 101 with factory 38, which went into operation in 1951, developed into one of Wismut's two central processing plants. It was located in Crossen on the northern edge of Zwickau and was renamed "Processing Plant 101" in 1968. It processed ores from all of the large Wismut deposits and produced a total of 77,000 t of uranium from 74.7 million t of ore. In Crossen, both mechanical concentrates from ores from the Ore Mountains (mainly from the Aue mining company) and chemical concentrates were produced using soda-alkaline leaching . In the mid-1980s, experiments were also carried out on the processing of tin ore from ores from Pöhla-Hämmerlein and an experimental silver ore processing for ores from Pöhla and Niederschlema-Alberoda was put into operation. In 1989, the processing began to be shut down because many of its plants were out of date and the declining production of bismuth led to capacity problems. The concentrate from the last year of production had a uranium content of 75% with a uranium recovery from the ore of 93.3%.

Wismut's largest and most modern processing plant was located in Seelingstädt (object 102, processing plant 102 from 1968), adjacent to the Culmitzsch deposit in East Thuringia. The plant was put into operation in 1961 as a result of the growing importance of the Ronneburg ore field, which is located about 15 km north of the plant.

Laboratory building of Wismut GmbH in the redevelopment area of ​​the former processing plant 102 (AB102) of SDAG Wismut, March 2015.

It processed ores from all of the Wismut deposits with the highest deliveries from Ronneburg. Up to 1991 the plant processed 108.8 million t of ore as well as products from leach mining in Königstein and Schmirchau and produced 86,273 t of uranium in concentrate. Two different chemical methods have been used to extract uranium, depending on the geochemistry of the ore. These were a process with soda-alkaline leaching and a process with sulfuric acid leaching. Both processes delivered concentrates with significantly different uranium contents and the uranium yield from the ore. On average, the concentrate content was 60% uranium and the yield was 92%. The last barrel with yellow cake was bottled in 1996.

From the 230,400 t of uranium extracted by the Wismut mining operations, the processing plants produced 216,300 t of uranium by the end of 1990. This included the chemical concentrates as well as the mechanical concentrates sent as ores. After the uranium production was stopped, the two processing plants were combined to form the Seelingstädt renovation company from 1991. The tailings ponds ( industrial settling systems - IAA) represent one of the greatest challenges in the remediation of the bismuth sites. The sludge-like residues from the processing plants contain most of the original radioactivity of the uranium ore in the form of radium and other decay products of the uranium as well as increased proportions of substances like uranium, arsenic and other heavy metals . There are a total of four large tailings ponds at both locations with a total volume of 152 million m³. The uranium contents of the tailings are between 50 and 300 g / t, the arsenic contents between 50 and 600 g / t and the radium contents between 7 and 12  Bq / g. The total activity of the radium in the tailings is around 1.5 * 10 15 Bq.

Vertical drainage drainage system on the tailings pond of the industrial tailing plant of the former processing plant 102 (AB102) of SDAG Wismut, on June 25, 2016

In addition to the sedimentation systems, there were fine-grained tailings from ore sorting at both locations. Tailings from Crossen were sold as building material in GDR times. The remnants of the mine dump were relocated to the IAA Helmsdorf after operations were closed and are covered there with the tailings.

Auxiliaries and suppliers

VU 151 rotary tipper from BAC Cainsdorf

Wismut AG / SDAG Wismut maintained several auxiliary and supplier companies to support uranium production. After 1990, these companies were spun off from Wismut as manufacturing and plant construction GmbH (DFA).

The company for mining equipment Aue (BBA) mainly manufactured technology for underground use such as drilling trucks , pit locomotives and loaders . After 1992 the company became part of the DFA. It was liquidated in 1992 after the mining equipment inspection collapsed and no investor was found. Even a wheel loader production that was not related to mining could not save the business. Countless mine locomotives from Aue are still in use in visitor mines and park railways / field railways today.

The operation for mining and processing plants Cainsdorf (BAC) ( operation 536 ) in Zwickau emerged from the " Königin-Marien-Hütte Cainsdorf". He manufactured a wide variety of equipment for the mining and processing operations of the Wismut, including containers, pipelines, pulleys, expansion elements, gears and blasthole chargers. He also manufactured for other mining companies in the GDR. Parts of the company were privatized after 1990.

The motor vehicle repair company (KRB) was based in Chemnitz-Siegmar. It emerged from the part of the expropriated Auto Union AG located there. Wismut AG initially only awarded contracts to the company, from 1948 it became part of the company. The main task of the company was the repair of vehicles of the Wismut as well as the production of special vehicles, superstructures and supplier parts for the automobile industry of the GDR. Remnants of the company were taken over in 1992 by the Belgian company Renders NV.

The construction and assembly company 17 (BMB 17) was responsible for the provision of construction work in the surface area and subordinate underground area. In the course of time he also increasingly accepted orders outside of the bismuth. But in 1990 the construction sector offered services on the open market.

Former repair shop of the BMB17 / BP80 (production area 80) in Zwitzschen near Seelingstädt, since 2003 a branch of SWECON

The sale of building materials (sand from the Kayna mine) was particularly successful, but outstanding receivables caused problems for the company. In 1992 he became part of the DFA.

The Wismut transport company was responsible for the transport of people and materials for Wismut AG / SDAG Wismut. It had car bases at all important Bismut locations as well as an extensive bus network for transporting employees. In 1992 it became part of the DFA as the logistics division.

The Central Geological Operation (ZGB) with its headquarters in Siegmar (initially in Grüna) was founded in 1966 and its main task was to increase the uranium reserves of the SDAG Wismut. The activity of the company led to the inclusion of 100,800 t of uranium in the balance reserves of Wismut. But he also carried out drilling work for other SDAG Wismut operations (e.g. sinking shafts) as well as exploration work for tin, tungsten, rare earths and fluorspar. Outside of the Wismut, he explored lignite, stone and earth as well as drinking water for other places in the GDR. Operations were closed on January 1, 1991.

The project planning company (PB) with its headquarters in Grüna, later in Siegmar, designed processing, mining and other systems for the Wismut. It ceased operations on December 31, 1990.

The Scientific and Technical Center (WTZ) developed technologies and processes for uranium extraction by Wismut AG / SDAG Wismut. These included, among other things, dismantling and expansion processes, processing technologies, occupational safety / health or the automation and rationalization of processes. The center ceased operations in 1990.

Significance for the economy of the GDR

Wismut AG / SDAG Wismut was one of the largest industrial companies in the GDR with initially over 100,000 and later around 45,000 employees. The financial and material expenditures for the company represented a great challenge for the country. The GDR had to bear the costs of the dismantling in full until 1954 , afterwards only partially. The construction of the large mining facilities with the associated need for infrastructure, energy supply, living space and cultural offers in previously mostly rural areas was associated with great expenditures. Mining was one of the main employers, especially in East Thuringia. The entire infrastructure was practically geared towards this branch of industry. In Gera , the new development areas Bieblach , Lusan (from 1972) and Bieblach-Ost (from 1986) were built, and many streets, hospitals and schools owed their existence to mining. To transport the ore to the processing plants, a new railway line , the Wismut-Werkbahn , was built between Ronneburg and Seelingstädt . The interests of bismuth often had priority over all other things in the GDR. So was z. For example, the Zwickau-Aue-Johanngeorgenstadt railway line was expanded to double-track, while elsewhere in the Soviet Zone / GDR a double-track track was dismantled as a reparation payment for the USSR.

Later on, the SDAG Wismut was increasingly integrated into the GDR economy and also provided services outside of its actual area of ​​activity. These services were mainly provided by the auxiliary and supplier companies of Wismut: The central geological operation of Wismut provided exploration and drilling services for other mining companies as well as for the water management of the GDR; the Wismut construction company was used to build residential and cultural facilities across the country; the vehicle repair company built custom-made products (including snow groomers) and parts for IFA's commercial vehicle production , and the Aue mining equipment company supplied machines for all the major mining companies in the GDR.

Nevertheless, the bismuth remained a burden for the economy of the GDR and could at no time supply uranium at world market prices. In 1984, Wismut calculated the cost per kg for the company's remaining resources (including exploration areas). These fluctuated between 321.60 marks (Königstein mining company) and 1005.60 marks (Freital-Heidenschanze construction site). On average they were 471.60 marks / kg for all uranium resources assessed and 506 marks / kg total costs for uranium in the chemical concentrate. On a DM basis, there is only one assessment for the resources of the youngest mining company, the Wismut Drosen, by Interuran / Cogema . These determined extraction costs of 369 DM / kg with a threshold content (cut-off) of 0.03% uranium and 203 DM / kg with a cut-off of 0.1% uranium.

The importance of Wismut for the GDR was underlined by the fact that the SED party organization in the company, the Wismut area leadership , had the rank of SED district leadership .

The industrial union Wismut (IGW) was the union organization of the employees of the SDAG Wismut.

Salaries and supplies

In 1947, the gross underground earnings in the most common wage groups were 1.28 marks per hour. At this point, they worked 48 hours a week. In addition, there were free warm lunches, food vouchers, free cigarettes, free accommodation and, if the norms were exceeded, other vouchers, catering packages and bonuses. In the years 1986 to 1989 the comparable hourly wage was 4.05 marks and 40 hours a week were worked. The monthly gross wage for all Wismut employees averaged 815 marks in 1959 and 1419 marks in 1989. The best-paid professional group were the tusks, who in 1989 earned 2111 marks gross per month. In addition, there were bonuses in kind and later in cash for exceeding norms, years of service and the like.

In questions of supply, the employees of the Wismut held a privileged position. So there were sometimes shops just for them, called HO-Wismut or Wismut-HO (HO for trade organization ), in which products could be bought that were hardly or not at all available in normal stores. Until the 1970s, bismuth buddies got special brands that allowed them to buy cheaper. The excise- free drinking brandy , the so-called “ Kumpeltod ” or “Bismut-Fusel”, with 32% alcohol in the 0.7 liter bottle and only available on a purchase order for 1.12 M until 1990 was particularly popular and legendary . Although all miners in the GDR were entitled to the "kumpeltod", this drink is particularly strongly associated with bismuth. The basic allocation for miners of the Wismut was 2 liters per month, with an additional allocation it could be up to 4 liters per month. The vouchers were very popular with the population and were traded, although this was forbidden.

Accidents at work

July 22, 1955: Otto Grotewohl and Karl Schirdewan in conversation with injured miners; Wettersteiger Friedrich Bruseberg and the deputy district climber Helmut Tischendorf, both from shaft 66

The miners were exposed to serious health hazards. The inferior technical equipment and the lack of experience and training of the obligated workers were the reason for the high number of occupational accidents, especially in the 1940s and 1950s. For the years 1946 to 1948 there is only an estimate of 200 fatal accidents at work, for the years 1949 to 1964 376 fatal accidents are given, which include the 33 deaths in the fire disaster in Niederschlema in 1955. In this mine accident on July 16, 1955, there was a cable fire at blind shaft 208 bis . As a result of the poor organization in the area of ​​occupational safety and mine rescue, 33 people lost their lives and 106 were injured. A large number of rescue workers were also among the dead. After this accident, work safety moved more into focus and all underground workers and visitors to the pits had to carry CO self-rescuers with them. There were further fires in the mining operations; In Ronneburg in particular, the endogenous fires, caused by inadequate mining methods, were a problem until the mid-1960s, although there were no further deaths from mine fires . The total number of fatal accidents at work between 1946 and 1990, including the estimates for the first few years, is 772.

Occupational diseases


As an occupational disease with bismuth, silicosis represents the greatest danger for the employees of bismuth. Silicosis is caused by the finest dust that arises when drilling, transporting and processing the ore or the adjacent rock. Above all, the quartz-rich ores and rocks (gneiss and mica schist) of the Ore Mountains and Vogtland represented the greatest risk of silicosis; the low-quartz rocks of the Ronneburg ore field were less problematic, if not entirely unproblematic. The danger posed by dust was already known before the Second World War, and there were corresponding legal regulations for occupational safety in Saxony since 1929. Wet drilling (i.e. the cuttings are removed from the borehole with water instead of compressed air) are effective measures for combating dust. as well as effective weather management . At the beginning of uranium mining in East Germany, however, there was no appropriate technical equipment, and there was a lack of training and awareness of the problem among the mostly inexperienced miners and the Soviet mine managers. For example, many miners refrained from wet drilling if the technical equipment was available in order to achieve higher performance and thus bonuses. It was not until the mid-1950s that the dry drilling ban in the Wismut and effective weather management were consistently implemented. Likewise, during the transport and processing of the pile of dust avoidance by z. B. sprinkler systems respected, and there were jobs in the dust measurement and dust control on the farms. Nevertheless, quartz dust remained a health risk in many workplaces until production was discontinued in 1990. As of January 31, 1997, 14,592 cases of silicosis were recognized as an occupational disease in bismuth between 1952 and 1990.

Radiation-induced lung cancer

Lung cancer caused by ionizing radiation follows in second place among the occupational diseases in bismuth. The isotopes of the noble gas radon occur in the decay series of uranium-238 and uranium-235 . This is released into the mine air via fissures in the rock and from the broken ore. Radon itself continues to break down into radioactive isotopes of the heavy metals polonium and bismuth (radon products - RFP; alpha emitters). These can be inhaled adhering to dust particles and settle in the lungs of the miners, exposing the lung tissue to radioactive radiation. As with silicosis, dust control and appropriate weather management play a major role in reducing the risk of radon and RFP, neither of which was given in the early years of Bismuth. It was not until 1956 that measurements of radioactive contamination in the Wismut plants began. However, for a long time these measured values ​​were not made available to the doctors responsible for the recognition of occupational diseases for reasons of confidentiality, so that they could only evaluate the cases based on the length of employment at Wismut and the job characteristics. Furthermore, estimates from measurements of ore mining in the Ore Mountains from the 1930s and 1940s were used to assess the cases.

As of January 31, 1997, between 1952 and 1990, 5,275 cases of bronchial cancer caused by ionizing radiation were recognized as an occupational disease in bismuth. A noticeably high number of miners who died from silicosis also had lung cancer, which is atypical for cases of silicosis outside of uranium mining. This points to the ominous interaction of both diseases. A large number of the sick worked with the bismuth in the early days and then only for a relatively short time. The later employees were better protected from radon and RFP through control and ventilation measures.

From 1991 to 2011, the German Statutory Accident Insurance confirmed a total of 3,700 cases of lung cancer as an occupational disease. There were also 100 people with throat cancer and 2,800 with quartz dust disease. Until 2011, almost a billion euros flowed from the DGUV to former Bismut employees for compensation.

Other occupational diseases

Other occupational diseases typical of the mining industry at the Wismut were vibration and overload damage, hearing damage, skin diseases and diseases caused by toxic substances. In contrast to the Königstein, Freital and Ronneburg deposits, the work on the corridor deposits in the Ore Mountains was difficult to mechanize due to the ridge construction used with its limited space for larger technology. In this mining process, the miners had to guide the hammer drills by hand, while they were constantly in direct contact with the device and the vibrations were transmitted to the miners' joints and thus lead to corresponding health damage. Attempts to introduce techniques to detach the miner from direct contact with the drilling rig were largely unsuccessful.

Healthcare bismuth

From 1954 on, health and safety became more important. In addition to the state health system of the GDR, there was the separate health system Wismut . The Wismut health service operated a total of 45 medical facilities, including 21 company outpatient clinics, seven polyclinics, miners' hospitals in several cities and sanatoriums in Bad Elster, Warmbad, Bad Liebenstein, Schlema and Bad Sulza . The “Wismut Sanatorium” in Bad Sulza - today's Bad Sulza Clinic Center - was built between 1964 and 1969. Wismut hospitals and clinics were initially much better equipped than the medical facilities in the rest of the GDR. From 1968 to 1989 the “Wismut Sanatorium” in Bad Sulza, which was used to treat chronic respiratory diseases, was the central rehabilitation facility of the SDAG Wismut and also the most modern rehabilitation clinic in the GDR. The SDAG Wismut employees were entitled to one rehabilitation measure per year.

Environmental damage and remediation

The two spoil heaps of BB Reust (popularly known as "Ronneburger Boobs"), November 1990
Biological water treatment plant at the Pöhla site in the Ore Mountains
Refurbished dump site at the Pöhla site in the Ore Mountains

The uranium mining of Wismut AG / SDAG Wismut represented a deep encroachment on the natural and cultural landscape of the affected areas. Many buildings in Oberschlemas and most in the city center of Johanngeorgenstadt had to be demolished due to the risk of mining damage caused by the mining of ore veins near the surface. In the Ronneburg and Culmitzsch districts, several villages had to give way to the dumps and opencast mines. However, the potential entry of pollutants into the air or water path is the longer-term major problem of uranium mining. The main pollutants are uranium, radium , radon and its derivatives and, depending on the mineralogy of the various deposits, elements such as arsenic , iron or manganese . These substances can be discharged as dust or through seepage water from the dumps and sedimentation systems or can get directly through the pit water into the groundwater or the receiving waters . Radon is a major problem for residential developments in the immediate vicinity of the deposits and heaps, as radon and its derivatives can accumulate in closed rooms. Furthermore, as in other industrial and mining operations, there is an environmental hazard from operating materials such as fuels, fats and oils.

When older sites are shut down by Wismut AG / SDAG Wismut, the remedial measures usually only include the demolition of the operating facilities, the safekeeping of the shafts and, if necessary, the contouring and reforestation of the dump complex . With the decision to shut down the Crossen processing plant and the Willi Agatz mining company in Dresden-Gittersee, SDAG Wismut developed a renovation concept for two large operating locations for the first time. As a result of the events of 1990 and the cessation of uranium production in the same year, a concept was developed and implemented for all Wismut locations from 1991 onwards. The federally owned "Wismut GmbH", founded in the same year, was responsible for the redevelopment of all Wismut locations that were in the unrestricted possession of Wismut on June 30, 1990. These were areas with a total area of ​​37 km², 310 million m³ of spoil heaps and around 150 million m³ of processing residues. In 1990 the company owned five mining sites and two processing plants. The main focuses of the activities of Wismut GmbH include:

  • the safe custody of the mine workings and shafts
  • Treatment of the flood water
  • Decontamination and dismantling of the operating facilities
  • Rehabilitation of the dumps and opencast mines
  • Rehabilitation of the industrial tailings plant

The tasks were carried out by independent renovation companies (later branches) of Wismut GmbH:

  • Ronneburg renovation plant (Ronneburg mining district)
  • Aue remediation operation (Niederschlema-Alberoda and Pöhla deposits)
  • Rehabilitation company Königstein (deposits Königstein and Freital)
  • Sanierungsbetrieb Seelingstädt (processing plants Seelingstädt and Crossen)

The scope of renovation is based, among other things, on the subsequent use concept for the areas. A large part is handed over to other providers for further forest use, but local recreation and leisure (e.g. Kurpark Oberschlema) and commercial use are also represented. The southern part of the Ronneburg deposit with the rehabilitated dump and open pit areas was part of the Gera-Ronneburg Federal Horticultural Show in 2007 .

By the end of 2006, 85% of the planned renovation measures had been carried out and 4.8 billion euros of the funds made available had been used. Sites that Wismut transferred to other sponsors before December 31, 1962 and were no longer owned by the company in 1990 do not have to be renovated by Wismut GmbH or its sponsor. However, in 2003 an administrative agreement was reached between the Free State of Saxony and the federal government for the old sites in Saxony, with the aim of redeveloping these properties by Wismut GmbH. However, these measures are not financed from the 6.4 billion euro budget of Wismut.

According to Wismut, around 6.2 billion euros of the 6.4 billion euros planned had been spent by the end of 2016. Of this, around 3.2 billion euros went to the Thuringian redevelopment sites Ronneburg and Seelingstädt and around 3.2 billion euros to the Saxon redevelopment sites Crossen, Pöhla, Schlema, Königstein and Dresden-Gittersee. This means that the funds originally allocated in 1990/91 at the start of the renovation have actually been used up. However, Wismut assumes that further renovation costs will be around 2 billion euros by 2045.

For the renovation, which is unique in its scope, Wismut GmbH had to develop a number of new technologies , such as: B. for the coverage of industrial tailings. These partly newly developed technologies are marketed today by the subsidiary "Wisutec GmbH" founded in 2002.

Wismut AG / SDAG Wismut resource table

The figures in this table represent the resource status as of January 1, 1991 and were taken from the source unless otherwise stated. All figures are in tons of uranium. The total remaining resources correspond to the balance sheet reserves plus the forecast resources. The total potential corresponds to the total remaining resources plus the resource deletion. After 1990, a small amount of "disposal mining" took place in Ronneburg, Niederschlema-Alberoda and Pöhla in order to minimize the contact area between the uranium ore and the later flood water. In Königstein, mine water treatment still produces uranium, which is "disposed of" through sale. For Königstein, this disposal between 1991 and 2008 amounts to 1,500 t of uranium. The figures for waste disposal mining from 1991 are not included in the following table.

Deposit / occurrence Production time Type production Resource deletion Balance sheet inventories C 1 + C 2 prognostic resources total remaining resources Total potential Ancillary resources
Erzfeld Ronneburg (East Thuringia) 1950-1990 Black slate 91,354 112.914 51,820 35,423 87,243 200.157 no
Schmirchau / Reust 1952–1990 / 1957–1988 Black slate ? 65,265 6,623 1513 8,145 73.410 no
Paitzdorf 1954-1990 Black slate ? 22,563 6.187 0.0 6.187 28,749 no
Stolzenberg opencast mine 1954-1957 Black slate ? 176 0.0 0.0 0.0 176 no
Lichtenberg opencast mine 1958-1976 Black slate ? 14,115 0.0 0.0 0.0 14,115 no
Beerwalde (Löbichau) (including basket feet) 1974-1990 Black slate ? 7,658 15,913 0.0 15,913 23,571 no
Droplets 1982-1990 Black slate 2941 3138 23,098 3760 26,858 29,996 no
Paitzdorf flanks Exploration field Black slate 0.0 0.0 0.0 367 367 367 no
Zeitz-Baldenhain Exploration field Black slate 0.0 0.0 0.0 16,000 16,000 16,000 no
Crouch Exploration field Black slate 0.0 0.0 0.0 453 453 453 no
Prehna Exploration field Black slate 0.0 0.0 0.0 8,531 8,531 8,531 no
Untitz Exploration field Black slate 0.0 0.0 0.0 2000 2000 2000 no
Crimmitschauer fault zone Exploration field Black slate 0.0 0.0 0.0 2560 2560 2560 no
Lichtenberg-North Exploration field Black slate 0.0 0.0 0.0 230 230 230 no
Erzfeld Schlema (Western Ore Mountains) 1946-1990 Aisle deposit 80.414 90,554 1032 5,017 6,049 96,603 Ag, Co, Ni, Bi, Pb, Zn, Se, Fe
Niederlema-Alberoda 1949-1990 Aisle deposit 73.105 82,609 1032 1017 2049 84,658 Ag, Co, Ni, Bi, Pb, Zn, Se
Upper scheme 1946-1960 Aisle deposit 7,099 7,945 0.0 0.0 0.0 7,945 Cu, Fe
Schneeberg 1946-1956 Aisle deposit 210 > 210 0.0 0.0 0.0 > 210 Ag, Co, Ni, Bi
Bernsbach Exploration field Aisle deposit 0.0 0.0 0.0 4000 4000 4000 no
Königstein (Saxon Switzerland) 1967-1990 sedimentary (sandstone) 17,756 19,257 4304 4251 8,555 27,812 no
Erzfeld Culmitzsch (East Thuringia) 1951-1967 sedimentary (marl, clay and limestone) ? 11,956 0.0 3350 3350 15.306 no
Culmitzsch 1955-1967 sedimentary (marl, clay and limestone) ? 9,217 0.0 0.0 0.0 9,217 no
Worry-Truly 1951-1957 sedimentary (marl, clay and limestone) ? 2292 0.0 0.0 0.0 2292 no
Gurgling 1953-1957 sedimentary (marl, clay and limestone) ? 428 0.0 0.0 0.0 428 no
Gera-South Exploration field sedimentary (marl, clay and limestone) ? 19.4 0.0 3350 3350 3369 no
Zobes (Vogtland) 1949-1963 Aisle deposit 4,673 5,031 0.0 0.0 0.0 5,031 Cu, W
Freital (Döhlen basin) 1947-1953; 1952-1955; 1968-1989 sedimentary (hard coal) 3691 3977 0.0 0.0 0.0 3977 Hard coal
Johanngeorgenstadt (Western Ore Mountains) 1946-1958 Aisle deposit 3585 4100 0.0 0.0 0.0 4100 Ag, Bi, Co, Ni
Pöhla (Western Ore Mountains) 1957-1990 Aisle deposit 1217 1322 766 4577 5,343 7,882 Magnetite, Sn, Zn, W, In, Cd, Ag, As
Tellerhäuser (Western Ore Mountains) 1983-1990 Aisle deposit 1204 1308 766 4577 5,343 7,854 Magnetite, Sn, Zn, W, In, Cd, Ag, As
Hammers Exploration field Aisle deposit 12.8 14.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 14.0 Sn, Zn, W, In, Cd
Globe stone 1957-1960 Aisle deposit 0.6 0.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.6 Magnetite, Sn, W
Erzfeld Schwarzenberg (Western Ore Mountains) 1947-1959 Aisle deposit 1347 1446 0.0 0.0 0.0 1,446 Magnetite, Sn, Zn, W
Antonsthal (White Deer) 1949-1959 Aisle deposit 748 827 0.0 0.0 0.0 829 Magnetite, Sn, Zn, W
Seifenbach 1947-1955 Aisle deposit 230 280 0.0 0.0 0.0 280 no
Christmas tree (September) 1948-1955 Aisle deposit 90.0 100 0.0 0.0 0.0 100 no
Neuoberhaus 1947-1955 Aisle deposit 62.0 70.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 70.0 no
May 1949-1955 Aisle deposit 50 > 50 0.0 0.0 0.0 > 50 no
Unrest half a mile 1950-1953 Aisle deposit 47.0 55.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 55.0 no
Tellerhäuser-Kaffenberg 1950-1954 Aisle deposit 42.0 50.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 50.0 no
Rabenberg (June) 1949-1955 Aisle deposit 32 > 32 0.0 0.0 0.0 > 32 no
Raschau-Grünstädtl 1950-1954 Aisle deposit 22.0 25.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 25.0 no
Knight green (blessing of god) 1948-1954 Aisle deposit 20.4 24.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 24.0 no
Erla-Crandorf 1948-1954 Aisle deposit 12.3 15.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 15.0 no
Breitenbrunn (Margarethe) 1946-1951 Aisle deposit 7.0 > 7.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 > 7.0 no
Berms green 1950-1953; 1956 Aisle deposit 2.1 > 2.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 > 2.1 no
Schneckenstein (Vogtland) 1949-1959 Aisle deposit 953 1136 0.0 0.0 0.0 1,136 Barite
Annaberg-Buchholz (middle Ore Mountains) 1947-1958 Aisle deposit 450 520 0.0 0.0 0.0 520 Ag, Co, Bi, Ni
Bergen (Vogtland) 1949-1959 Aisle deposit 162 197 0.0 0.0 0.0 197 no
Precipitation Bärenstein (middle Ore Mountains) 1947-1954 Aisle deposit 133 155 0.0 0.0 0.0 155 Fluorite, barite
Marienberg (middle Ore Mountains) 1947-1954 Aisle deposit 121 > 121 0.0 0.0 0.0 > 121 Fluorite, barite, Ag, Co, Ni, Bi
Dittrichshütte (South Thuringia) 1950-1953 Black slate 113 163 0.0 0.0 0.0 163 no
Gottesberg (Vogtland) 1949-1955 Aisle deposit 56.4 68.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 68.6 Sn, W
Steinach (South Thuringia) 1953-1954 Black slate 43.6 59.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 49.7 no
Niederpöbel (Eastern Ore Mountains) 1948-1953 Aisle deposit 30th > 30 0.0 0.0 0.0 30th no
Bear hedge (Eastern Ore Mountains) 1949-1954 Aisle deposit ? 44.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 44.2 no
Schleusingen (South Thuringia) 1950-1953 sedimentary (sandstone) 14.0 27.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 27.0 no
Freiberg (Eastern Ore Mountains) 1948-1950 Aisle deposit ? 5.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 5.4 no
NW Saxony Exploration area Vulcanite bound 0.0 0.0 0.0 6,660 6,660 6,660 W, REE, Nb, Ta, phosphate
Kyhna-Schenkenberg Exploration area Vulcanite bound 0.0 0.0 0.0 2500 2500 2500 no
Advertise Exploration area Vulcanite bound 0.0 0.0 0.0 2500 2500 2500 no
Serbitz Exploration area Vulcanite bound 0.0 0.0 0.0 1000 1000 1000 no
"Southern occurrence" Exploration area Vulcanite bound 0.0 0.0 0.0 660 660 660 no
Hauptmannsgrün-Neumark (Vogtland) Exploration area Black slate 0.0 0.0 0.0 2270 2270 2270 no
Ore Mountains and Vogtland Exploration areas Corridor storage facilities 0.0 0.0 0.0 11,200 11,200 11,200 no
NW flank Pöhla Exploration area Aisle deposit 0.0 0.0 0.0 6,050 6,050 6,050 no
middle Ore Mountains Exploration areas Corridor storage facilities 0.0 0.0 0.0 2384 2384 2384 no
Western Ore Mountains (without Schlema and Pöhla) Exploration areas Corridor storage facilities 0.0 0.0 0.0 1471 1471 1471 no
Eastern Ore Mountains Exploration areas Corridor storage facilities 0.0 0.0 0.0 1295 1295 1295 no
Rudolstadt (South Thuringia) Exploration area Black slate 0.0 0.0 0.0 1300 1300 1300 no
Total bismuth
(until 1990)
1947-1990 216,300 251.510 57,922 74,078 132,000 383.510 Sn, W, Zn, Fe, Cu, Bi, Co, Ni, Ag, As, In, Cd, barite, fluorite

See also

Web links

Commons : Bismut (company)  - album with pictures, videos and audio files


Overall presentation / contemporary history

  • J. Waury, KH Wieland: Chronicle of the area organization Wismut of the Free German Youth for the years 1946–1961 (= series of publications on the history of the area organization Wismut of the FDJ ). Karl-Marx-Stadt 1985.
  • Paul Reimar: The Bismuth Legacy. History and consequences of uranium mining in Thuringia and Saxony. The workshop, Göttingen 1991, ISBN 3-923478-55-0 .
  • Rainer Karlsch, Harm Schröter (ed.): Radiant past. Studies on the history of uranium mining in bismuth. Scripta Mercaturae, St. Katharinen 1996, ISBN 3-89590-030-3 .
  • Rainer Karlsch: The development of the uranium industries in the Soviet Zone / GDR and CSR as a result of the Soviet uranium gap. In: ZfG . 44, 1996, p. 15.
  • Andrew Port: When Workers Rumbled: The Wismut Upheaval of August 1951 in East Germany. In: Social History. Volume 22/2, May 1997, pp. 145-173; Journal of History. 44th Jg. (1996), Issue 1, pp. 5-24.
  • Wismut GmbH (Hrsg.): Chronicle of the bismuth. Chemnitz 1999 (2nd edition, Chemnitz 2011).
  • Mario Kaden: Uranium Province - Wismut witnesses remember it. Printing and publishing company, Marienberg 2000, ISBN 3-931770-26-5 .
  • Johannes Böttcher: Ropeway - On the trail of the Saxon uranium ore mining. Bode, Haltern 2001, ISBN 3-925094-40-7 .
  • Ralf Engeln: uranium slaves or sun seekers? The Soviet AG Wismut in the Soviet Zone / GDR 1946–1953. Klartext, Essen 2001, ISBN 3-88474-988-9 .
  • Rainer Karlsch, Zbynek Zeman: Urange Secrets. The Ore Mountains in the focus of world politics 1933–1960. Links, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-86153-276-X .
  • Klaus Beyer, Mario Kaden, Erwin Raasch, Werner Schuppan: Bismuth - ore for peace. Druck- und Verlagsgesellschaft, Marienberg 1995, last 7th edition 2007, ISBN 978-3-931770-02-0 .
  • Rainer Karlsch: Uranium for Moscow. The bismuth - a popular story. Links, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-86153-427-3 .
  • Annerose Kirchner: Vanished without a trace: Villages in Thuringia - victims of uranium mining. Links, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86153-569-0 .
  • Juliane Schütterle: Buddy, squad and comrades. Living and working in uranium mining in the GDR. The Wismut AG. Paderborn 2010, ISBN 978-3-506-76922-0 .
  • Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (Ed.): 20 years of Wismut GmbH. Renovation for the future. Berlin 2011 ( PDF; 5.4 MB ( memento from December 17, 2011 in the Internet Archive )).
  • František Šedivý: Uranium for the Soviet Union. With an introduction by František Bártík. Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig 2015, ISBN 978-3-374-04033-9 .

Individual districts, operating sites and locations

  • Mining tradition association Wismut: The pyramids of Ronneburg - uranium ore mining in East Thuringia. ISBN 978-3-00-019899-1 .
  • Klaus Beyer: Uranium, Zinnerz, Magnetit - A contribution to the history of uranium ore mining in the Pöhlwassertal and the ore field Pöhla - Tellerhäuser (= series of publications of the Uranbergbau Museum. Issue 12). Bad Schlema 2004.
  • Klaus Beyer: The uranium ore mining of the SAG / SDAG Wismut in the area of ​​Annaberg, Marienberg, Bärenstein-Precipitation (= series of publications of the Uranium Mining Museum. Issue 14). Bad Schlema 2004.
  • Rainer Bode: On site Ronneburg, Beerwalde, Drosen, Paitzdorf, Reust, Seelingstädt - About uranium mining near Ronneburg, Thuringia. 2nd Edition. Bode, Haltern 2007, ISBN 978-3-925094-41-5 .
  • Karl Demmler, Klaus Beyer: The uranium ore mining of the SAG / SDAG Wismut from 1948 to 1964 in the Saxon Vogtland (= publication series of the Uranium Mining Museum. Issue 8). Bad Schlema 2003.
  • Rudolf Dietel: Johanngeorgenstadt - a short version of the course of uranium ore mining of the SAG / SDAG Wismut in the years from 1946 to 1958 (= series of publications of the Uranium Mining Museum. Issue 11). Bad Schlema 2004.
  • Bernd Duschk, Helmar Sittner: Uranium extraction mine Drosen. In: Mining. Magazine for raw material extraction, energy, environment. Vol. 60 (2009), No. 7, pp. 309-313 ( PDF; 57.2 MB ( Memento from February 21, 2014 in the Internet Archive ))
  • Steffen Hamann, Wolfgang Schreiber: On site - About uranium ore mining near Ronneburg. Bode, Haltern 2001, ISBN 3-925094-41-5 .
  • Kristin Jahn: Around the Drosen shaft. Telling contemporary witnesses. Sutton, Erfurt 2007, ISBN 978-3-86680-117-2 .
  • Rolf Lange: The bismuth in Marienberg. Vol. 1: Mining and Geology. Rolf Lange, Marienberg 2006, ISBN 3-00-019626-9 .
  • Rolf Lange: The bismuth in Marienberg. Vol. 2: Miners report on uranium mining. Rolf Lange, Marienberg 2006, ISBN 3-00-019627-7 .
  • Karl-Heinz Linkert: The uranium ore field Schneeberg - Schlema - Alberoda in the Saxon Western Ore Mountains (= series of publications of the Uranium Mining Museum. Issue 15). Bad Schlema 2006.
  • Ekkehard Riedl: The bismuth in Ronneburg. Sutton, Erfurt 2003, ISBN 3-89702-531-0 .
  • Saxon State Office for Environment and Geology / Sächsisches Oberbergamt (Ed.): The Königstein uranium deposit. Mining in Saxony Vol. 7, Freiberg 2000, urn : nbn: de: bsz: 14-qucosa-79166 .
  • Saxon State Office for Environment and Geology / Sächsisches Oberbergamt (Hrsg.): The uranium ore-barite-fluorite deposit deposit at Bärenstein together with neighboring ore deposits (= mining in Saxony. Volume 6). Freiberg 2001, urn : nbn: de: bsz: 14-qucosa-82742 .
  • Saxon State Office for Environment and Geology / Sächsisches Oberbergamt (Hrsg.): The Döhlener basin near Dresden. Geology and mining. Mining in Saxony Vol. 12, Freiberg 2007, ISBN 978-3-9811421-0-5 , urn : nbn: de: bsz: 14-qucosa-79315 .
  • Saxon State Office for Environment and Geology / Sächsisches Oberbergamt (Hrsg.): Geology and uranium mining in the Schlema-Alberoda district. Mining in Saxony Vol. 14, Freiberg 2008, ISBN 978-3-9811421-3-6 , urn : nbn: de: bsz: 14-qucosa-78919 .
  • Saxon State Office for Environment, Agriculture and Geology / Sächsisches Oberbergamt (Hrsg.): The complex storage facilities Tellerhäuser and Hämmerlein. Uranium mining and tin exploration in the Pöhla pit of the SDAG Wismut. (Bergbau in Sachsen Vol. 17) Freiberg 2012, ISBN 978-3-9811421-4-3 . (Digitized version)
  • Oliver Titzmann: Uranium mining versus radium bath. About the effects of uranium mining. Bad Schlema 2003.
  • Axel Hiller, Werner Schuppan ,: The Zobes-Bergen deposit area in Vogtland . In: Saxon State Office for Environment, Agriculture and Geology (Ed.): Mining monograph . 1st edition. tape May 18 , 31, 2016 (164 pp., [PDF; accessed November 27, 2016]).

Environment, radioactivity, health

  • Author collective: Uranium ore mining versus the environment? SDAG Wismut, Karl-Marx-Stadt 1990.
  • Michael Beleites: Pitchblende. Uranium mining in the GDR and its consequences. Wittenberg 1988 ( PDF; 3.3 MB ; restricted copyright provisions).
  • Michael Beleites: Contaminated Bismuth. State of emergency, environmental disaster and the rehabilitation problem in German uranium mining. Frankfurt a. M. 1992 ( PDF; 1.2 MB ; restricted copyright provisions).
  • Frank Lehmann u. a .: Exposure to ionizing radiation in uranium ore mining in the former GDR. Final report on a research project. Sankt Augustin 1998, ISBN 3-88383-524-2 .
  • CAE Overmanns: Quality of anamnestic and lung function analysis data for testing the risk of chronic obstructive bronchitis and / or pulmonary emphysema in miners in uranium ore mining. Dissertation thesis, Medical Faculty of the RWTH Aachen University, Aachen 2007.
  • Agemar Siehl (Ed.): Environmental radioactivity. From the series Geology and Ecology in Context. Ernst & Sohn, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-433-01813-8 .
  • Juliane Schütterle: Health in the service of production? The corporate health system and occupational safety in uranium mining in the GDR. In: Germany Archive 8/2011 ( ).
  • Radiation Protection Commission: Radiation exposure from mining in Saxony and Thuringia and its assessment. Bonn 1990 ( PDF; 36 kB [accessed December 8, 2018]).


  • Ludwig Baumann, Ewald Kuschka, Thomas Seifert: Deposits of the Ore Mountains. Enke, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-13-118281-4 .
  • Carl Schiffner: Uranium Minerals in Saxony. Köhler, Freiberg 1911.
  • Helmut Tonndorf: Metallogeny of Uranium in the East German Zechstein - A contribution to the detection and characteristics of material redistribution and enrichment processes (= treatises of the Saxon Academy of Sciences in Leipzig, mathematical-natural science class. Volume 58, Issue 3). Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-05-501621-1 .


  • Collective of authors: Uranium mining in the Ore Mountains and the Cold War. Selected contributions from the RADIZ workshop on October 10 and 11, 1997 in Schlema, RADIZ-Information 16/98, RADIZ e. V., Schlema.
  • Mathias Buchner, Bernd Neddermeyer (Hrsg.): The bismuth factory railway. The history of the industrial railway of the Soviet-German stock corporation in the east Thuringian uranium ore mining area. Regional traffic history, EK, Freiburg 2000, ISBN 3-88255-439-8 .
  • Antje Gallert: Resurrection Aurora. Official project accompanying the 2007 Federal Horticultural Show in the Altenburger Land district. Published by the Altenburger Land District Office, Altenburg 2007.
  • Franz Kirchheimer: Uranium and its history. E. Schweizerbartsche Verlagbuchhandlung, Stuttgart, 1963.
  • Karl Schiffner: The radioactivity conditions in the Kingdom of Saxony. In: Radium in biology and medicine. Vol. 2, 1913, Issue 7, pp. 193-219.
  • Carl Schiffner: Radioactive Waters in Saxony. Volume 1 (1908), Volume 2 (1909), Volume 3 (1911), Volume 4 (1912).
  • Association for the promotion, preservation and research of the traditions of the Saxon / Thuringian uranium mining e. V. (Ed.): 10th Mining Days in Bad Schlema June 30 to July 2, 2006. Proceedings. Aue 2006. (digitized version) ( Memento from September 30, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 5.1 MB).
  • Wismut GmbH: Information package for the redevelopment sites: Wismut - a federal company, Aue, Königstein, Ronneburg, Lichtenberg opencast mine, industrial sedimentation plants. Chemnitz 2006-2007.
  • Boris P. Laschkow: Looking for uranium behind the Elbe. Soviet geologists at the bismuth. Bildverlag Böttger, Witzschdorf 2013, ISBN 978-3-937496-60-3 .
  • Günter Ducke: Bismuth stories - uranium and people. Soviet mining specialists tell. Bildverlag Böttger, Witzschdorf 2018, ISBN 978-3-937496-90-0 .


DVD-ROM and DVD-Video
  • Wismut GmbH: Wismut - Perspectives through renovation. Uranium ore mining and the remediation of its legacy. 2006.
motion pictures
  • Die Wismut, director: Volker Koepp , 1993, b / w 112 minutes. German Film Critics' Prize 1993, Duisburg Documentary Film Prize 1993, Hessian Film Prize 1994.
  • Wild West near the Wismut - atomic bombs from the Ore Mountains, Jürgen Ast and Kerstin Mauersberger, 2011, 45 minutes, ARD
  • Yellow Cake - The lie of clean energy (2005–2010, 108 min.) A film by Joachim Tschirner. arte 2010

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Stefan Mann: The Wismut Rehabilitation Project: Present State, Outlook and Lessons Learned. (PDF; 4.4 MB) IAEA workshop, Chemnitz 2012. In: IAEA , December 2012, archived from the original on July 14, 2014 ; accessed on December 27, 2018 (English).
  2. Jump up F. Veselovsky, P. Ondrus, A. Gabsová, J. Hlousek, P. Vlasimsky, I. V. Chernyshew: Who was who in Jáchymov mineralogy II. In: Journal of the Czech Geological Society. 48 / 3-4 2003, pp. 193-205.
  3. a b c Franz Kirchheimer: The uranium and its history. E. Schweizerbartsche Verlagbuchhandlung, Stuttgart 1963.
  4. a b various authors: Uranium mining in the Ore Mountains and the Cold War. Selected contributions from the RADIZ workshop on October 10 and 11, 1997 in Schlema, RADIZ-Information 16/98, RADIZ e. V., Schlema.
  5. Short biography on the TU Freiberg website ( memento from November 30, 2010 in the Internet Archive ). In:, accessed on November 29, 2010.
  6. The uranium search and extraction was disguised as bismuth and cobalt extraction.
  7. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad Chronik der Wismut. CD-ROM. Wismut GmbH, 1999.
  8. ^ Rudolf Boch, Rainer Karlsch: In: Uranbergbau im Kalten Krieg. Volume 2, p. 82.
  9. Boris P. Laschkow: Looking for uranium behind the Elbe. Witzschdorf 2013, ISBN 978-3-937496-60-3 .
  10. Press release of the TU Chemnitz, September 1st, 2009 .
  11. Law on the agreement of May 16, 1991 between the government of the Federal Republic of Germany and the government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the termination of the activities of the Soviet-German stock corporation Wismut (WismutAGAbkG)
  12. a b c d e Dietmar Leopold, Michael Paul: The reference project Wismut: Restoration and revitalization of uranium ore mining sites in Saxony and Thuringia. In: Proceedings of the International Mining Symposium WISMUT 2007. Gera, 10. – 12. September 2007, pp. 21-30.
  13. Arthur Max, Timothy Mason: Past and Future of Uranium Production. In: atw. Volume 41 (1996), Issue 2 (February), p. 81.
  14. German Bundestag Printed Matter 17/6237 - answer of the Federal Government to the request of the deputies ralph lenkert, Dr. Barbara Höll, Christine Buchholz, other MPs and the DIE LINKE parliamentary group. Status of renovation work at Wismut GmbH, costs, income, environmental pollution and other damage ( [PDF; 100 kB]).
  15. ^ Uranium 2016: Resources, Production and Demand - A Joint Report by the Nuclear Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency. IAEA and NEA, 2016.
  16. The Financing of Bismuth. Retrieved February 12, 2012 .
  17. Wismut subsidiary sold to engineering company. In: image . Retrieved November 6, 2010 .
  18. ^ A b Axel Hiller, Werner Schuppan: Geology and uranium mining in the Schlema-Alberoda district. Ed. Saxon State Office for Environment and Geology (LfUG), 2008, ISBN 978-3-9811421-0-5 .
  19. ^ Wismut GmbH: 25 years of Wismut GmbH. Dialog employee magazine special edition No. 90, Chemnitz 2016, ZDB -ID 1214242-6 , p. 30 ( PDF; 10.2 MB [accessed on March 13, 2019]).
  20. ^ Wismut GmbH: 25 years of Wismut GmbH. Dialog employee magazine special edition No. 90, Chemnitz 2016, p. 57 ( PDF; 10.2 MB [accessed on March 13, 2019]).
  21. World Uranium Mining
  22. Wismut Environmental Report 2011, p. 29 (PDF; 9.3 MB).
  23. Wismut Environmental Report 2012, p. 24 (PDF; 7.6 MB).
  24. Bismuth: Radiation levels are harmless. in: Sächsische Zeitung (Pirna edition), March 4, 2015.
  25. a b Bismuth renovation project worth billions. Saxon newspaper from December 20, 2016.
  26. a b c When the bismuth builds ... In: Sächsische Zeitung (Pirna edition) of April 7, 2017.
  27. Bismut closes the last shafts this year. In: Saxon newspaper. (Pirna edition), March 15, 2012.
  28. What is left of the uranium plant. In: Saxon newspaper. (Pirna edition), May 11, 2016.
  29. Flooding of the Königstein mine. ( Memento from September 8, 2012 in the web archive ) at: , August 3, 2009.
  30. Pumping until the end of time. In: Saxon newspaper. (Pirna edition), August 24, 2013.
  31. ^ Wismut GmbH: 25 years of Wismut GmbH. Dialog employee magazine special edition No. 90, Chemnitz 2016, p. 16 ( PDF; 10.2 MB [accessed on March 13, 2019]).
  32. Helmut Tonndorf: Metallogenie des Uranien in the East German Zechstein - A contribution to the detection and characteristics of material redistribution and enrichment processes (= treatises of the Saxon Academy of Sciences in Leipzig, mathematical and natural science class. Volume 58, Issue 3). Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-05-501621-1 .
  33. Renovation of the industrial sedimentation systems, Wismut GmbH
  34. Axel Hiller, Werner Schuppan ,: The Zobes-Bergen deposit area in the Vogtland . In: Saxon State Office for Environment, Agriculture and Geology (Ed.): Mining monograph . 1st edition. tape 18 , May 31, 2016, pp. 40–71 ( [PDF; accessed on November 27, 2016]).
  35. Axel Hiller, Werner Schuppan ,: The Zobes-Bergen deposit area in the Vogtland . In: Saxon State Office for Environment, Agriculture and Geology (Ed.): Mining monograph . 1st edition. tape 18 , May 31, 2016, pp. 92–97 ( [PDF; accessed on November 27, 2016]).
  36. Wolfgang Reichel, Manfred Schauer: The Döhlener basin near Dresden. Ed. Saxon State Office for Environment and Geology (LfUG), 2004, ISBN 3-9811421-0-1 .
  37. ^ Rainer Karlsch : Uranium for Moscow. The bismuth - a popular story. 4th edition, Berlin 2011, pp. 161, 177, 219.
  38. ^ Wismut GmbH (ed.): The redevelopment location Dresden-Gittersee . Chemnitz 2009.
  39. The flooding of the Dresden-Gittersee mine and the excavation of the WISMUT tunnel. on:
  40. Layer in the shaft. In: Saxon newspaper. (Pirna edition), March 30, 2012.
  41. ^ Wismut GmbH: 25 years of Wismut GmbH. Dialog employee magazine special edition No. 90, Chemnitz 2016, p. 22 ( PDF; 10.2 MB [accessed on March 13, 2019]).
  42. a b c Sächsisches Oberbergamt in Freiberg ( Memento from December 19, 2011 in the Internet Archive ). In: .
  43. Gabi Thieme: Interest in mineral resources in the Ore Mountains is declining. In: Free Press. December 13, 2012, archived from the original on December 13, 2012 ; accessed on December 8, 2018 .
  44. The uranium ore-barite-fluorite deposit at Bärenstein and neighboring ore deposits. Retrieved December 8, 2018 .
  45. In Halsbrücke you can already hear the mountain cries ( memento from February 14, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  46. Ore mining begins again in the Ore Mountains. ( Memento from September 19, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) In: Sächsische Zeitung. October 27, 2010.
  47. Information in
  48. Juliane Schütterle: The dead heroes of work. The mining disaster on shaft 208 in the uranium ore mine in Wismut on July 16, 1955 . In: Susanne Muhle, Hedwig Richter, Juliane Schütterle (eds.): The GDR in view. A historical reading book . 1st edition. Metropol, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-940938-04-6 , pp. 51-58 .
  49. 3700 cancer cases in Bismuth buddies. The number of sick people is much higher than expected. In: Thüringische Landeszeitung. April 28, 2012.
  50. ^ Thomas Seifert, Gerhard Lange, Karl-Heinz Linkert, Arnold Reinisch, Horst Meyer: Geological and deposit economic study of the uranium deposits in Eastern Germany (Saxony and Thuringia) . In: N. Ulitzka (Ed.): Symposium Europe Against Cancer - Hazardous Materials Mining 1995 - Schlema II, Gera, 2. – 4. May 1995 . Mining Employer's Liability Insurance Association Bochum, Bochum 1995, p. 83-109 (conference proceedings).
  51. .
  52. DNB 1063050677 .

Coordinates: 50 ° 48 ′ 32.9 ″  N , 12 ° 50 ′ 32.9 ″  E