Slovak opal mines
are a region of international interest located near Prešov, where Slovak opal was and still is mined.
- 1 Location
- 2 Mining districts
- 3 History
- 4 Present
- 5 Minerals
- 6 Fauna
- 7 Flora
- 8 Maps
- 9 Pictures of above-ground structures
- 10 Pictures of underground
- 11 Usage
- 12 Making the mines available
- 13 References
- 14 Other projects
The region is in the eastern part of Slovakia in the Slanské vrchy mountain range, near the village of Červenica. Slovak opal mines are defined by the area of PDA (Protected Deposit Area Červenica I.) for protection of the opal deposit and they encompass an area of 10 987 778,00 m2. MS Červenica (mining site Červenica) is within PDA Červenica I – precious opal and has an area of 998 332,41m2.
These mining districts were leased out after 1823 for private enterprising. The territory was fixed in art. 4 of a mining edict from 1823 in the following areas:
- Predbaňa, Libanka, Stráne, Stredná and Nižná Bučina, Libanka pri Orlovskej Studni 329 335 m2
- Šimonka, Šimonka-Laz 51 400 m2
- Dubník 45 662 m2
- Čolo 6 177 m2
- Lúčina 4 003 m2
- Paseky 3 960 m2
- Kunderov 3 600 m2
- Remety 7 200 m2
Slovak opal mines, also known as Mines of Dubnik, Dubnik Opal Mines, in the second half of the 19th century they were also called Červenik-Dubnik opal mines, Hungarian: A Vörösvágás – dubniki opálbányak, or Vörösvágás Dubniker Opálgruben. First written mention about the village Červenica specifically mentioning opal mines is from 1409. Mines were known in the entire world since the end of the 16th century because of the opal mined here. It is possible that opal was mined here since the roman era. Slovak opal was a firm favourite of Napoleon’s family. Empress Joséphine wore the most famous piece called Fire of Troy. The largest opal found was called Harlequin, mined in 1775 and valued at 700 000 Dutch guilders. Today it is displayed in the Museum of Natural History in Vienna.
The opal mines enjoyed a golden era working with the family of a jeweller from Vienna Samuela Johanna Nepomuka Goldschmidt, who lived in Dubnik. Slovak Opal Mines were the only mined deposit of opal worldwide until the discovery of deposits in Mexico and Australia in the 19th century. Mining operations were suspended indefinitely after the creation of Czechoslovakia because of bad financial situation.
The history of opal mines until 1922 was documented by a distinguished Slovak Historian Štefan Butkovič in his book History of Slovak precious opal from Dubnik. The golden age of Opal Mines near Červenica is recalled by the reconstructed entrance into tunnel Jozef.
Several cooperatives seeking commercial utilization of the location emerged after 1989. Opálové bane Libanka, s.r.o. was founded in Prešov on May 19th, 2010. The company received authorization to mine opal in MS Červenica in May 2012, after which surface mining on tailings pile Viliam in October 2012 called Monika. More than 90 years after the last mining operation of the last mining renter, the French consortium Bittner-Belangenay.
A permanent exhibition of Slovak Opal focusing on the history and present of the opal mines was opened in the Regional museum in Prešov. The exhibition is available to the public since 6th of June 2016. The underground of Slovak Opal Mines is open to public since July 1st 2015 through tunnel Jozef, the mine can be visited around the year.
On October 11th 2016 the Industrial Property Office of Slovak Republic issued a certificate of Designations of origin for products and geographical indications for products. This certificate was registered by WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) on November 10th 2016 under the registration number 1061.
Situated about 500m from Dubnik settlement is a Mercury deposit Dubnik – Hg ores. Vermilion was the first mineral mined in the area. Mining operations commenced in the 15th and continued throughout the 18th century. A complete evaluation of a closed deposit area of the Dubnik Mercury deposit was finished in 2002. Vermilion is found here in the form of impregnations with pyrite and marcasite, also in the form of veins with diameter 1.5mm at most. Opal mined in the above-mentioned areas was accompanied by hyalite, marcasite, antimonite, limonite, alunogen, pickeringite with cobalt impurities, halotrichite and other minerals.
Part of Slovak Opal Mines is a Conservation Area declared in 1964 for protection of bats. Nowadays about 4000 bats reside in the opal mines. 11 species hibernate in PDA Červenica: Greater Horseshoe bat – Rhinolophus ferrumequinum Lesser Horseshoe bat – Rhinolophus hipposideros Greater Mouse-eared bat – Myotis myotis Geoffroy’s bat – Myotis emarginatus Lesser Mouse-eared bat – Myotis Blythii Daubenton’s bat – Myotis daubentonii Pond bat – Myotis dasycneme Whiskered bat – Myotis mystacinus Barbastelle – Barbastella barbastellus Brown Long-eared bat – Plecotus auritus Northern bat – Eptesicus.
The opal mines are located in the Slanské vrchy mountain range. Phytogeographically they are part of western-Carpathian flora (Carpaticum occidentale), specifically the pre-Carpathian flora (Praecarpaticum). In extreme conditions of mountaintops we can find beech forests complemented by huckleberry and northern firmoss. Typical for the area are different species of Orchids. Gentiana, Silene coronaria and Corutea arborescens are but a few examples of rare species found in the region. The crown jewel of Šimonka hill is Aconitum variegatum similar to Wolfsbane.
Pictures of above-ground structures
- Oldest photography of Jozef tunnel (r. 1892)
Entrance into Jozef tunnel in 1990
Entrance into Jozef tunnel in 2000
Renovated entrance into Jozef tunnel in 2016
Tunnel Jozef – renovated entrance in 2016
Entrance into Jozef tunnel – inf. BoardEntrance to mine Richard
Pictures of underground
Mine cart – exhibition
In tunnel Jozef – gate
Flooded tunnels in horizon Viliam
Former mines are often used for recreation. Less adventurous people can enjoy the nicest underground spaces with artificial lighting, stairs and walkways to enable passage with minimal effort. Mines are also used for treating respiratory illnesses – speleotherapy.
Mines open for public in Slovakia
Tunnel Bartolomej, Tunnel Glanzenberg, Starovšechsvätých mine, Bear tunnel, Cigeľ mine, Slovak opal mines
- Zemepisné označenia výrobkov : Slovenský opál. Vestník Úradu priemyselného vlastníctva SR (Banská Bystrica: ÚPV SR), 2016-11-02, roč. 2016, čís. 11, s. 251 – 253. Dostupné online [cit. 2017-01-09]. ISSN 2453-7551.
The mining association „Slovakia opal“ is a voluntary association of citizens interested in mining.
This association has members who are mining professionals, scientists, teachers, but also pensioners and private citizens interested in mining in the northern part of the Slanské vrchy mountain range and its surroundings, its history and perspective.
The goal of this association is renovation, maintenance and development of the centuries old tradition of mining, organization of member meetings to further develop knowledge of mining, preparation of public events to inform about the region and its mining traditions both in Slovakia and abroad. We also strive to deepen cooperation with similar associations in Slovakia and abroad, as well as to publish works about the region’s history and present and to beautify the region while preserving its character.
Memorandum of the mining association: