The beginnings of ore mining in Gand are unknown. Considering that fahlore is estimated to have first been mined in late medieval Tyrol around 1400 A.D., this might also be when the Gand mines opened. Evidence suggests that the mines were operated as early as 1352.
THE HISTORY OF MINING IN GAND
Little is known about what happened before 1520, but it is apparent that the Gand mining site was highly valued for the exceptional mercury content contained in its fahlore. By 1520, the mineral deposits were depleted, and operation in the mines was consequently shut down.
From 1549 onwards, local authorities continued to grant permission for mineral extraction in one of the local mines.
In 1558, mercury was once again extracted from the fahlore. Despite this, the mines could not attain their previous prominence.
From 1612 to 1748, the Gand mines were shut down and attempts were made to reactivate them with little to no success. In 1846, the mines would be closed forever.
In 1970, yet another attempt to find ore, specifically uranium ore, was launched. The reason for this renewed yet unsuccessful search was to prepare for the construction of the Zwentendorf Nuclear Power Plant.
From 2013 to 2016, Markus Kaser from St. Anton am Arlberg initiated a series of archaeological mining surveys at this site.
In the autumn of 2016, the municipal authorities of St. Anton am Arlberg initially considered making the Gand mining site accessible to the local population, visitors, and tourists. An educational trail and two partially reconstructed tunnels should be made available to the public. The steep old miners’ path, leading from the village up to the previous mining sites on the mountain, was left in its original shape and condition.
Opening of the Gand mines to the public.
Fig.: Pinge below the alpine road and 100 metres above the Miners’ Tunnel at 1,430 metres above sea level
Fig.: The Gand district at St. Jakob am Arlberg (1940)
Fig. Waste material from a prospecting pit at the Miners’ Tunnel, presumably collected here during the search for uranium ore