Metting point: iron bar gate at the mine.
SEP to 07-JUL Sat, Sun, Hol 13:30-15.
08-JUL to AUG 13:30-16.
Tours every 30 minutes, English tour 14.
Adults EUR 7, Children (11-18) EUR 3.50, Children (0-10) free, Students EUR 4.
Groups (+): Adults EUR 5.50.
|Incandescent Electric Light System
|Mine de Neuves-Maisons, Rue du Val de Fer (Allée François Boyette), 54230 Neuves-Maisons, Tel: +33-695-48-17-64. E-mail:
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|iron ore researched by Victor De Lespinats, an engineer from the École Nationale Supérieure des Mines in Paris.
|research stopped by the Franco-Prussian War.
|mine opened by Victor De Lespinats.
|new railway Le Coucou links mine and furnace.
|four mines united by a decree of the mining authority, which resulted in the formation of a single mine.
|syndicat de mineurs (Miners Union) founded.
|inscribed as monument historique (Historical Monument).
|Agence du Patrimoine et de la Culture des Industries Néodomiennes (APCI, Agency for Industrial Culture and Heritage Neuves-Maisons) founded.
The Mine du Val de Fer (Iron Valley Mine) is one of numerous iron mines in the Lorraine. The rich iron ores were one of the reasons, why Germany and France quarreled about the ownership of this area during the early 20th century. One piece of this puzzle are the explorations of Victor de Lespinats, a mining engineer from the Ecole des mines de Paris, in 1869. He had to stop his exploration because of the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. But the industrial revolution needed iron, and so Lespinats and seventeen other shareholders founded the Société Métallurgique de la Haute-Moselle (Smelting Company Upper Moselle) in 1872. In 1874 the first minette ores were extracted from this mine.
The problem with the Minette ores was the difficulty to smelt it into good iron. The ores had impurities, namely phosphorous, which could not be removed easily at first. In 1878 the British inventor Sidney Gilchrist Thomas discovered an inexpensive industrial process for the mass-production of steel from ores with such impurities. Oxygene is blown into the molten iron ore and the phosphorus oxidizes, a process called basic Bessemer. Now the minette ores could be converted much cheaper into high-quality iron.
The next development was the construction of an ore train named Le Coucou (The Cuckoo) which linked the mine with the furnace at Neuves Maisons. In 1885 the concessions of the four mines Val-de-fer, Val-Fleurion, Maron-nord, and Fond de Monveaux were united by a decree of the mining authority, which resulted in the formation of a single mine.
The mine was also the location of social changes and labor movement. In 1890 there was a strike in the mine, in 1894 the Union was founded, and finally in 1916 the occupation of disabled and women for surface jobs was introduced.
After World War II the demand for iron increased dramatically. The results were massive modernizations of the mining and the smelting. However, during the sixties the internationalization made the local iron too expensive. It was not able to compete with the low prices on the world market. And so after a last boom the iron mining ended abruptly in 1968.
In 1977 a group of interested people, including some former miners, founded the Atelier de Mémoire Ouvrière (AMO) which restored some galleries and made them safe for visits. This group is part of the Foyer des Jeunes et d'Education Populaire (Center for Youth and Public Education). When the city of Neuves-Maisons becomes owner of the mine Carreau minier du Val de Fer in 1980, they start to restore it. They opened on the Journées du Patrimoine (Heritage Days) and were a great success with more than 1,000 visitors. The mine was declared a monument historique (Historical Monument) in 1992. Since 2009 the Agence du Patrimoine et de la Culture des Industries Néodomiennes (APCI, Agency for Industrial Culture and Heritage Neuves-Maisons) which was founded by the municipality, is developing the site.
A highlight is the Accumulateur à minerai Zublin (Zublin ore storage battery) which was built in the 1930s. It has 16 silos and a capacity of 10,000 t. There is a self-guided tour with descriptive panels and orientation tables on three terraces in the 5-ha mine area. A little uphill is the Mine-musée du Val de Fer (Val de Fer Mine Museum) with an exhibition on the history of the local mining. The mine visits are guided by former miners, who show the restored underground mine Galeries de la Poudrière with 1000 m of underground route on the same level as the entrance on the uppermost terrace. The entrance offers a great view of the Moselle, the tunnel offers a 90-minute introduction into iron ore mining. The tours are offered during Summer and during School Holidays. For tours in English or Italian, please make a phone call.