The world's biggest taxi is as high as a house, goes by the name Hauly and has 860 hp. The converted heavy goods vehicle takes visitors right in the middle of the largest surface mining of Central Europe. Starting from the valley of the small Styrian town Eisenerz the ore mine rises like the steps of a huge pyramid, surrounded by majestic Alpine peaks. Hauly's passengers, however, will barely notice the beauty of nature since they are completely busy watching the heavy wheeled loaders and lorries clearing scree and rocks with roaring motors. On Thursdays visitors can even witness the daily blast breaking up to 70.000 tons of stone out of the mountain. Showing the underworld is the job of "Katl", a former pit train for miners. Intrepid ones can board it to get one and a half kilometres into the maze of tunnels beneath the Erzberg ("iron mountain"). Down here there was mining of iron ore, too, as is impressively demonstrated by an 800-metre circular trail. An audiovisual journey in time travels back to the earliest geological eras, thus revealing the genesis of the local ore deposits. Whoever missed the real blast above ground can make up for it now – in a striking simulation with thunder, lightning and gun smoke.
The output is tremendous: 11 million tons of stone – with a share of 2.7 million tons of iron ore – are yearly produced in the Erzberg mine. To achieve this about 1.000 tons of liquid dynamite are deployed and filled into drill holes measuring 80.000 metres in total. When the local ore mining began more than 1.300 years ago nobody would have imagined this deposit to once become the cradle of the Austrian industry.
As elsewhere, the beginning of ore mining was based on primitive surface mining. Shallow pits ("Pingen") allowed locals to scrape the weathered ores near the surface quite easily. Eventually tunnels followed the ore deposits underground, thus laying the foundations for the local mining tradition. At the same time surface mining continued by using miner's hammers, irons, hand drills, and explosives. Since 1906 drilling machines operated with compressed air perforated the stone, in 1930 followed by the first deployment of drill rigs. Nowadays this work is done by self-propelled hydraulic drilling devices with a drilling capacity of up to 50 metres per hour. Five wheeled loaders and 13 heavy goods vehicles clear the blasted rocks and stones from the mine's 30 terraces, each of it 24 metres high, and take them to a processing plant where the material is crushed and separated in ore and dead rock. With only one bucket the 800-hp wheeled loaders can move 25 tons of stone.
The Erzberg is the largest surface mining of Central Europe and the most important ore deposit in the Alpine region. 220 employees supply the steel plants at Linz and Donawitz with 6.000 tons of iron ore on a daily basis. Since 1993 – the year when a heavy goods transporter was transformed into a sightseeing vehicle – visitors can experience the ore mining at close quarters. In 1996 a second visitor truck was added. A visitor mine with mine railway, circular trail and audiovisual elements illustrates the underground mining operation which was closed down in 1986. Amongst off-road fans the Erzberg is renowned as venue of the annual motorcycle race "Erzbergrodeo".
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|Duration of a guided tour:
|Mine 90; Truck 60 Minutes
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