Mining history

The importance of mines in Matheysine

Matheysine is historically marked by the intense and diversified mining processing : marble, serpentine and gypsum quarries, coal mines or silver lead mines…

The headframes of Susville, La Motte d’Aveillans et de Prunières represent the last scars of the mining operation which brought prosperity to the territory, during decades. At the entrance of Valbonnais, you will discover the old cement works, an other testimony of this period.

From the ledge of Drac to the massif of Les Ecrins, there are beautiful stone structures (as the viaduct of la Roizonne, built in 1913, which was for a long time the biggest stone bridge in Europe), showing the dynamism of Matheysine, when the train stopped at Corps and Valbonnais and allowed to get the coal of Matheysine, the cement or gypsum of Valbonnais toward Grenoble.

Witness from the past: The Museum of La Mine image

Situated in La Motte d’aveillans, the museum tells you the mining processing.

The association “Conservation and development of the Mottois heritage” was created in 1986 in order to build a museum dedicated to the mining history. The museum was erected step by step by a motivated team of volunteers: freeing of the gallery, renovation of the site, organisation of guided tours by the old miners, financing search…

A building looking like the mining architecture is constructed in 1995, while a second one is built in 2011. Nowadays, the museum makes you discover the local history throughout the mines.

More information:

Important dates of the mining processing

  • 1640 : beginning of the processing of anthracite coal deposit organized by the Duke of Lesdiguières
  • 1768 : opening of the first horizontal gallery by the Lord of La Motte, the baron of Venterol
  • 1806 : Napoleonic order giving back the underground to the State and according the first concessions
  • 1856 : creation of the Company from the operating of anthracite coal mines in La mure.
  • 27th June 1946 : nationalization of the mines
  • 1956 : operating centre moving from La Motte d’Aveillans to Le Villaret
  • 1966 : maximale production with 791 000 tons
  • 1968 : recession plan and drop in production
  • 1974 : increase in hiring after the oil shock
  • 1970’s to 1990’s : threats of operation ceased and fiscal stimulus
  • 28th march 1997 : definitive closing down of the well of Le Villaret