Grube Leonie

Useful Information

Location: Industriegebiet Leonie, Leonie 4, 91275 Auerbach in der Oberpfalz.
A9 exit 9 Pegnitz, B470/85 to Auerbach, at the entrance to the town turn left, Michelfelder Straße, turn left into Degelsdorfer Straße, industrial area Leonie.
(49.699861, 11.632983)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: MineIron Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Carl-Diedrich Sattler, Peter Halbach (1998): Precipitation and alteration of late Cretaceous sedimentary apatites and siderites (Leonie Trough, Bavaria, Germany), Chemie der Erde - Geochemistry 58(3), August 1998, 197-218 online
Harald G. Dill, Berthold Weber, Stephan Kaufhold (2009): The origin of siderite-goethite-phosphate mineralization in the karst-related faultbound iron ore deposit Auerbach, Germany, a clue to the timing of hypogene and supergene Fe-Al phosphates in NE Bavaria, Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie - Abhandlungen 186(3), 283-307, October 2009. researchgate DOI pdf
Address: Stadt Auerbach, Oberer Marktplatz 1, 91275 Auerbach, Tel: +49-9643-200, Telefax: +49-9643-2035. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1853 Foundation of the Maxhütte iron works causes boom for mines.
1878 Auerbach mines supply the Maxhütte steelworks.
1903 cable car from the mines to Auerbach train station.
13-AUG-1972 sinking of Leonie shaft.
10-OCT-1977 iron ore extraction begins.
16-APR-1987 Maxhütte files for bankruptcy.
11-MAY-1987 Grube Leonie closed.
1989 shutting down the dewatering after decommissioning work.
MAY-1996 Grubenfelder Leonie becomes a nature reserve.


The Cretaceous iron ore deposit is shaped like a diapir. With iron contents of about 47 %, this is the richest iron deposit in the Federal Republic of Germany. A total of 26 million tonnes of iron ore were mined, 16 million tonnes at the Maffei mine and 10 million tonnes at the Leonie mine. After closure, an estimated 20 million tonnes of iron ore remained in the deposit. Mining is not profitable at current world market prices.

The Auerbach iron deposit is known for exceptional minerals, especially iron ores. It is the only known locality of the rare mineral churchite-(Y) in Germany. It is also known under the obsolete name Weinschenkit ((Y,Er,La)[PO4]-2H2O).


The Eisenerzbergwerk Leonie (Leonie iron ore mine) was operated by the Maxhütte steelworks in the Upper Palatinate from 1977 to 1987. It was the last iron ore mine still producing in the Federal Republic of Germany. Today, the characteristic headframe, clad in corrugated iron, can still be seen, the rest of the mine facilities are demolished and are now an industrial area. However, a tour is only possible from the outside.

The mine was only in operation for 10 years. During this time, 5.2 million tonnes of iron ore were extracted, and the costs of DM 108 million were matched by DM 204 million in earnings. The mine had 286 employees and was thus the largest economic factor in the rural region. When the mine was closed with the bankruptcy of Maxhütte, there were an estimated 14 million tonnes of iron ore left. 63 men were employed for another two years for the closure work. They dismantled the large machines underground and brought machine parts, operating materials and everything else of value that could be transported to the surface. Then galleries were bricked up and the shaft filled with limestone gravel. Above ground, buildings were demolished and slack heaps were levelled.

The small town of Auerbach in the Upper Palatinate is strongly influenced by iron ore mining. So there are three interesting sights here that you should visit together. The headframe of the Eisenerzbergwerk Leonie (Leonie iron ore mine) and the Grubenfelder Leonie (Leonie mine area) are freely accessible. The Maffei-Schächte (Maffei shafts) in the south of Auerbach are a mining museum.

The Grubenfelder Leonie (Leonie mine area) is a weird attraction, a huge field with numerous pits. Mining took place under the 87.3 ha site with forest and pasture land. After the mine was closed down, the cavities created during mining started to partially collapse. The result is a multitude of depressions which are also called sinkholes or dolines, but have little to do with naturally occurring sinkholes. The area has been a nature reserve since May 1996 and is grazed by Heck cattle and Exmoor ponies. Heck cattle are backbred from the Aurochs or Ur, which became extinct in the 17th century and from which the town of Auerbach takes its name. Exmoor ponies are considered to be the last true descendants of the ice-age Ur ponies. A wooden footbridge leads to some of the most impressive sinkholes, the rest of the site is off limits. The danger of further collapses is too great.