The legacy of old mines

By Christian BlockLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

Some 150 years after its beginnings, the ITM established a department for mines in 2020 – although mining activities have long since ceased. It paves the way for the return of concessions to the state and checks the safety of underground excursion sites.

The acronym ITM stands for Inspection du Travail et des Mines (in English: Labour and Mining Inspectorate). But the "M" has lost its meaning over the years. So much so that it is now commonly referred to only as the Labour Inspectorate. But two years ago something strange happens. The ITM creates a new department: for mines and quarries (Service Mines, Minières et Carrières, or MMC for short), even though the last mine ceased operations 40 years ago. What happened?

Pierre Schmitz knows the answer. It goes back about 160 years in the history of the Grand Duchy, to the beginnings of the iron industry. Around 1860, "things really took off" with the mining and processing of iron ore. At that time, the state granted concessions to private companies that mined iron ore, mainly in the south of the country. Most of these concessions are still in private hands today. "ArcelorMittal is in the process of returning the concessions to the state." With the retrocession, responsibilities such as securing mine entrances would also go back to the state. The ITM is currently preparing a draft law that would also stipulate the conditions of the return of these concessions.

150 years after its beginnings, the ITM is thus returning to its roots in some respects. With the law of 20 July 1869, the first State Inspector of Mines took up his work and watched over the mining legislation that had developed since the beginning of the 19th century. Mining guards (gardes-mines) and "mine conductors" were subsequently recruited. This was followed in 1902 by the creation of the Inspectorate of Industrial Work with the recruitment of the first labour inspector. In 1945, the Labour Inspectorate and the Mines Administration merged to form the ITM.

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