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Museum of the Cockerill Mine


Living and working environment

The Cockerill Mine is one of those beautiful stories we love to tell. After many decades of operation, the old Katzenberg mine was closed and fell into ruins — but it was not forgotten! A group of passionate former miners who wanted to pass their memories on to future generations decided to breathe new life into the old site.

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The industrial Era

The history of the Katzenberg mine begins on the 8th of August 1881 when the brothers, Charles & Jules COLLART, foundry owners in Steinfort and Rodingen, are granted the Schlossbüsch concession for a term of 50 years at an annual rent of 18,750 francs.

The first tunnel entrance to this concession is not located at Katzenberg, however, but at a place called “Eisekaul”. It is a few years later, in 1887, when the COLLART brothers relocate the mining operations to the foot of Katzenberg. This only happens once they have bought up additional ore sites at Ellergrund and they are granted a further concession in Ellergrund in 1892.

The construction of the buildings on the lower Katzenberg mine site starts in 1887 under the direction of mining engineer, André KOCH. Over the course of the following years, the COLLART brothers relocate their mining site from Eisekaul to Ellergrund.

The company is constantly expanded and enlarged over the next few years, in particular by acquiring the Katzenberg concession in 1898. This concession also gives the mine its name once all of the previously acquired concessions (Schlossbüsch, Ellergrund, Heintzenberg and Katzenberg) have been brought together. In 1898, total production of Katzenberg amounts to 72,000 tonnes of ore.

In 1900, the modernisation of the foundry in Steinfort and mining operations at Katzenberg begins. At the upper part of the Katzenberg mine, a large repair workshop (the “Centre d’Accueil” today), an electrical supply station (Hall C today) and an accommodation unit comprising two homes are constructed. Electrical train operation is introduced at the mine entrances with the acquisition of two electric LAHMEYER locomotives. The problem of groundwater is solved by installing drainage pumps and ore can now be mined from deeper deposits.

Ore production grows from year to year. While 72,000 tonnes of ore are mined in 1898, it reaches 100,000 tonnes in 1900. In 1903, 148,000 tonnes of ore are mined and in 1907, a temporary peak of 177,000 tonnes is achieved.

Charles COLLART dies in 1910. His death brings about a structural change in the company of Charles and Jules COLLART. It is converted from a simple limited commercial partnership, Charles & Jules COLLART KG into a commercial partnership limited by shares (KGaA), Jules COLLART.

In 1913, the company, Jules COLLART, is converted into the company known as Hochöfen und Stahlwerke Steinfort. The leading shareholder from now on is the German company, Felten & Guilleaume Carlswerk, based in Köln-Mühlheim. In the same year, a large investment programme is launched for the Steinfort foundry. In addition, two new ore concessions (Eichels, size 51.95 ha and 8 ha) are acquired. Production at the Katzenberg mine amounts to 216,000 tonnes in 1913.

After the end of the First World War, the Steinfort foundry and Katzenberg mine are sold in 1919 to the French Société des Mines de la Loire.

In 1921, the Steinfort foundry and Katzenberg mine are taken over by the Belgian company, Athus-Grivegnée. This company had previously set up a syndicate with Société des Mines de la Loire.

In 1928, Athus-Grivegnée merges with Angleur steelworks; the newly formed company is called S. A. Angleur-Athus.

At the onset of the global economic crisis in 1929, production amounts to 422,000 tonnes at the Katzenberg mine. Due to the effects of the global economic crisis, the Steinfort foundry is definitively shut down on the 31st of May 1931.

During the Second World War, the Katzenberg mine is initially placed under forced administration by the German occupiers then integrated into the “Lutzelburg Union” as of April 1st, 1943. The entire ore production is exported to the Reich in order to produce armaments.

After the end of the Second World War, in 1946 S. A. Angleur-Athus merges with S. A. John COCKERILL. At the end of the 1950s, the mining operations are largely mechanised. In order to make mining easier, scrapers and loading machines are acquired. An ore crusher is installed in between the brown and black deposits. The ore is now brought above ground by means of a conveyor belt and stored temporarily in ore silos, from where it is loaded into dumper trucks.

The 31st of December 1967 spells the end for the Katzenberg mine. After being worked for more than 85 years, operations are now ceased. The ore reserves that still remain in the deposits requiring concessions (21 million tonnes) are divided up among the companies, ARBED, HADIR and MMR; these companies also take on the majority of the workforce from the Katzenberg mine.

The post-industrial era

After the closure of the mine, the Ellergrund valley falls silent. The compressors are hushed and slowly but surely nature reclaims the area where countless ore trains have travelled in and out of the mine entrances for decades.

In 1970, the mine buildings are sold to a building company.

In 1986, the state buys up forests in Ellergrund to create a nature reserve. Two years later, the state acquires the Katzenberg mine site with all its associated buildings, with the medium-term goal of renovating the entire mining area.

Establishment of a syndicate

On the 8th May of 1991, the well-attended foundation meeting of the “Initiativ fir d’Erhaalen vun de Cockerillsgebaier zu Esch-Uelzecht am Ellergronn” takes place in the Jängi OESTERREICHER hall.

The “Initiativ fir d’Erhaalen vun de Cockerillsgebaier” symbolically occupies the mining site. In the following years, clearing work and minor works such as the provisional waterproofing of the roof of the old forge and maintenance works on the grounds are carried out.

Renaming of the initiative as Entente Mine Cockerill

In November 1995, the “Initiativ fir d’Erhalen vun de Cockerillsgebaier zu Esch-Uelzecht” comes to the decision to rename itself Entente Mine Cockerill.

The last director of the Katzenberg mine, Mr Frédéric GEORGES, becomes the honorary president of Entente Mine Cockerill.

At the beginning of 1996, the public is informed of the establishment of Entente Mine Cockerill; on December 18th of the same year, Entente Mine Cockerill is registered as a not-for-profit association in “Memorial”, the official gazette.

The aim of the association is to continue explaining to forthcoming generations about the industrial past of the mining site and to keep it alive.

With this in mind, the association, Entente Mine Cockerill, has been active in the former mining area for 25 years without receiving any payment. Pithead washrooms (“Salle des Pendus”), the establishment of a small mining museum, the maintenance of the old forge and the exposure of the two pit entrances have all been achieved by Entente Mine COCKERILL initiative.

The museum "Mine Cockerill"

The small museum that was set up by a group of former miners shows fossils, minerals, mining tools and numerous other genuine artefacts from the former iron industry.

The former mining site

Just outside the museum, in the midst of the nature reserve Ellergronn, you can wander about in the former operational area and discover remnants of the industrial era, like different vehicles and several entrances to iron ore mines.

In the midst of a nature reserve

The Nature Conservation Centre is situated right next to the Museum of the Cockerill Mine in the midst of a nature reserve which is part of the Natura-2000 network. Natura 2000 is an ecological network of nature protection areas within the European Union aiming to preserve native wild species as well as their natural habitats.

The visitors’ centre is the starting point of educational trails leading through the nature reserve in which you can observe how impressively nature evolved in this former open-cast areas, without human involvement: rare animal and plant species, amongst which orchids and bats, amphibians and reptiles, butterflies and birds.

In order to discover the natural richness of the region, the Nature Conservation Centre Ellergronn offers activities and guided tours to visitors throughout the year.

Available Offers

min.90 €per group
The industrial and natural heritage at the Ellergronn

  • Guided tour with a guide
  • Explanations about industrial exploitation and its impact on the environment
  • Tour of the former mine area including the laundry room, blacksmith shop, etc.
min.90 €per group
The museum "Mine Cockerill"

  • Personal tour with a guide
  • Insights into the world of miners
  • Explanations on environmental transformation


Phone: (+352) 247-56516

E-Mail: ellergronn@anf.etat.lu

Website: http://cockerill.lu/

How to get there

Centre nature et forêt Ellergronn

L-4114 Esch-sur-Alzette

By car

Motorway A4, exit Esch-sur-Alzette City Centre
(49°28'30.9"N 5°58'33.0"E)

By train 
Train line 60 or 60c direction Esch-sur-Alzette, exit "Esch-sur-Alzette"

By bus 
Citybus "Orange Linn 12" at train station Esch-sur-Alzette


Opening Hours

Mon 08.00 - 12.00 13.00 - 17.00

Tue 08.00 - 12.00 13.00 - 17.00

Wed 08.00 - 12.00 13.00 - 17.00

Thu 08.00 - 12.00 13.00 - 17.00

Fri 08.00 - 12.00 13.00 - 17.00

Sat 08.00 - 12.00

Sun 08.00 - 12.00

Please always check the opening hours before your visit.