Welcome to the mine complex

The mine complex is the group of surface facilities needed to operate a mine.

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Vue aérienne. Au premier plan, les chantiers du fond, au second plan, de gauche à droite, les puits Wendel 1, 2, 3 © 4 vents

The mine complex

The mine complex is the group of surface facilities needed to operate a mine.

It is accessible free of charge to all visitors. A tour route stretching from the square in front of the Wendel Miners Museum to the Wendel Mine explains the history of the complex, as well as the function and history of the main buildings that make up a “surface” mine.

The route includes 10 trilingual terminals (French, German, English), placed near the buildings and illustrated with old photographs from the 1950s.

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Le chevalement du puits Wendel 2 (au premier plan) et le remplacement du chevalement du puits Wendel 1. Entre 1955 et 1957.

The Wendel 2 shaft

The shaft is the vital infrastructure of a mine, for the transport of people, coal and equipment. It serves galleries located at various depths that lead to the tailings, where coal is actually mined.

The Wendel 2 shaft is one of three shafts at the Wendel site. It was created in 1871 shortly after the discovery of coal on the site in 1865, and reaches a depth of 773 metres and has a diameter of 5 metres. It is topped by a 54-metre high headframe, dating from 1949, which is the visible infrastructure of the “surface” building. It was closed in 1992 and its headframe has been included in the inventory of historic monuments since 1998.

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The evolution of the operation of the Wendel site

The Wendel site grew rapidly after the first lumps of coal were extracted in 1865.

In 1889, the Wendel site and all the shafts of Petite-Rosselle came under the direct control of the Wendel group, and were then operated by the “Petite-Rosselle Coal Mines”.

Production increased very rapidly until the First World War, then stagnated just before the Second World War.

After 1945, the Coal Battle, in a war-torn basin, rekindled the development of the Wendel site. Wendel shafts 1 and 2 were modernised, and Wendel shaft 3 was cut in 1952 and equipped with washhouse 3 in 1958 – a state-of-the-art construction.

The company modernised washhouse 1-2 in 1962 by creating a building above the old washhouse. Operations and investments continued until 1986, when the site ceased to operate.

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The extraction machines from Wendel shafts 1 and 2

The extraction machine provides the force required to move the cable down the shaft at a maximum speed of 16 metres per second. It consists of a motor and a drum around which the cable is wound.

Wendel shafts 1 and 2 are equipped with two extraction machines built according to two distinct principles, both installed in the buildings opposite the headframes.

The extraction machine of the Wendel 1 shaft, is composed of a bicylindroconical drum while the Wendel 2 well is equipped with a Koepe pulley extraction system.

Dans la Mine Wendel, chantier en dressants: la machine est une ANF de couleur rouge et jaune avec un tambour de havage noir

The Wendel Mine

The underground mines were located on the former equipment park at the Wendel site.

They are presented in the form of a large open book that symbolizes the history of the mine. The red modules that make up the pages of the book feature, in the following order: representations of flat, semi-sloping and sloping coal faces. Horizontal metal tubes represent service and excavation galleries. The machines and installations visible on the sites are representative of the latest coal mining methods in Lorraine at the end of the 20th century.

The equipment and galleries were installed by active Lorraine miners, who faithfully reproduced the configuration of the installations they had seen at the bottom of the mine. A total of 1,500 tonnes of equipment were brought in to create these representations, which were inaugurated in June 2006.

Le carreau Wendel vu depuis le terril. Au premier plan, la zone de stockage du matériel et les rames de wagons en attente de chargement

The central slag heap of Petite-Rosselle

The large slag heap, which is not accessible but visible behind the former underground sites, extends between the site of the former Wendel complex and the former Simon site in Forbach.

This heap was used between 1872 and 1991 for the deposition of isolated mining shales during coal processing in the washhouses of the Simon, Wendel and Gargan sites. It was also used to dispose of all kinds of waste produced by the HBL (Houillères du bassin de Lorraine).

Now covered with birch trees, the slag heap lives because it can combust internally, heat up and ignite deep down. Due to this internal heat, the slag heap is a special ecosystem, and is preferred by fauna and flora suited to warmer climates.

Le « bloc énergie », les ateliers, le magasin et le chevalement du puits Wendel 3. A droite, une partie de la cité minière Wendel-Sud.

Energy on site

From 1946 onwards, the electrification of the now explosion-proof underground installations, designed to operate in a flammable atmosphere, developed. Electricity needs increase. That is why electricity production is delocalised, it is no longer generated in the complex.Supplied by the general HBL network, it is brought to the site via a 65 kV very high voltage overhead line and then transformed in this monumental “energy block”, to exit at 5kV.

Prior to underground electrification, the miners’ work was manual or assisted by horses for a long time, then mechanised thanks to the use of compressed air, still used for ancillary or emergency installations underground until the closure of the last mines.

As for the above ground installations in the complex, until the early 20th century, steam provided the energy for their operation, before it was replaced by electricity.

A l'atelier, deux ouvriers utilisant un marteau pilon © Son et Lumière

The store and workshops

The stores and workshops are located at the front of the energy building. They were built between 1954 and 1956 during the modernisation of the Wendel site.

The store is intended to stock the parts, tools and machines essential to the operation of the mine. It is complemented by other central stores throughout the coal basin.

In the workshops, technicians are responsible for maintaining and repairing miners’ machines and tools. The Wendel site has three workshops: the mechanical workshop, the electrical workshop and the electromechanical workshop.They are served by a railway track to bring the equipment to be maintained and for the maintenance of locomotives and wagons used for day-to-day transport.

Bringing coal above ground using the Wendel 3 shaft

The coal, after being mined underground, is transported in the galleries to the shaft thanks to conveyor belts. It is then loaded at the “underground receptacle”, where a cage takes it up to the “overground receptacle”. From there, the coal is stored or brought directly to the washhouse.

The Wendel III shaft and its washhouse were state-of-the-art facilities in the 1950s. They were used to extract and treat fatty coals (the most calorific).

The Wendel III shaft is equipped with a double extraction receptacle, composed of skips (very large cages) and carts (wagons emptied by “tippers”). 2 skips and 2 cart cages were simultaneously lifted into the well.

Vue de l’intérieur du lavoir Wendel 1-2. 1966.

Coal treatment in the Wendel 1-2 washhouse

After extraction, the raw coal must be processed to make it marketable. This treatment is carried out in “washhouses”. The Wendel 1-2 washhouse was built in 1929 and then modernised between 1954 and 1960.

This is where the “fatty gas coal B” type coals extracted by the Wendel 1 and Wendel 2 shafts were treated.

Raw coal undergoes a series of conditioning and purification operations in order to produce “washed coal” with characteristics adapted to the requirements of the various customers (power plants, coking plants, boiler rooms, private individuals, etc…).

The “muddy” water (fine particles of coal mixed with water) resulting from the treatment of the coal is pumped into a large circular settling tank, still visible near the washhouse.

When it leaves the washhouse, the coal, separated from its impurities and calibrated, is loaded into wagons.

Modernisation du lavoir Wendel 1-2 par ajout d’un nouveau module © John Craven

The architecture of the Wendel 1-2 washhouse

The Wendel 1-2 washhouse alone bears witness to the architectural evolution of the site between 1865 and 1961. Modified and extended nine times, it consists of a tangle of buildings, among which we can distinguish two main stages of construction. Its oldest part, made of bricks, dates from 1891; the most recent (light-coloured module) dates from 1961.

The original building from 1891 was gradually extended five times until 1960. Its central core, dating from 1929, has incorporated important technical developments.

In 1961, at the time of its most important modification, in order to increase the treatment capacity and precision of the washing process, a large light-coloured module was built on the existing part.