Padež pri Laškem
Nmv: 510 m
Osnivanje rudnika : 1763.g
max. dubina okna: 264 m
Status: neaktivan od 1967.g
The abandoned lead and silver mine Padež is located east of Laško in a forest stretching above the Slapšak or, as locally called, Povh Farm . The currently known historical written sources do not specify in what period the Padež Mine was active, but it is believed to be in the Middle Ages. A military map from 1763-1767 shows Padež, but contains no indication of mining activity. Furthermore, the Mine is not mentioned in the Mining Manual of the Austrian Empire, which was issued from 1838 to 1861. Hence, the Mine is mentioned merely in Zollikofer’s records of the time he visited these places . Furthermore, expert institutions do not dispose with archival photography that would directly and credibly show the Mine operations and therewith related mining lifestyle in recent period.
Geologically, the Padež ore deposit is found in Carboniferous rock and represents one of the lead ore deposits in the region of the Posavje Folds. It falls within the group of lead and zinc lode ore deposits strung between the Ljubljana basin in the west and Laško and Sevnica in the east, none of which, however, is currently in operation.
Today, access is provided to some 264 metres of pits in the Padež Mine. The primary ventilation and exploration shaft with an entrance at an altitude of 510m is 113m long . In the north, i.e. the left side of the ventilation and exploration shaft, two side exploration shafts branch off at 50 and 78 metres from the entry, with raises and inclines to faces No. I, II and III. In the side exploration and ventilation shaft 50m away from the entry to the primary shaft, there are two, floor and ceiling, intakes 25 and 30m from the primary shaft. The total length of accessible shafts, raises and inclines to faces I, II and III, which are located north of the primary shaft, amounts to 139m. In the south, i.e. the left side of the primary shaft, there is a 12-metre-long side exploration shaft some 50m away from the entry.
The ore-bearing rock is micaceous-quartz sandstone with intercalations of feldspar and siltstone like in the Sitarjevec Mine. Mineralisation occurred as a result of tectonic movements that caused quartz sandstone to crack, thus allowing the penetration of hydrothermal solutions enriched with ore minerals and silica into the cracks. There is a thick bed of quartz conglomerate amidst the ore-bearing quartz sandstone, with slate, feldspar and siltstone beneath it. There is no mineralisation phenomenon in the beds of quartz conglomerate, shale, feldspar and siltstone, which is why they are considered to be spoil section of the ore deposit. Based on geologic mapping of the surroundings of the Padež Mine, it was established that there are beds of slate, feldspar and siltstone under quartz sandstone in the area of the planned educational forest trail, which are covered by a bed of quartz conglomerate representing the hanging wall of ore-bearing beds like in other lead and zinc deposits in the Posavje Folds (Figure 4).
The preserved technical documents on similar ore deposits of such type reveal that veins were several centimetres to 2 metres thick, whereby primary veins exceeding the thickness of 0.3m were exploited. The main ore minerals emerging in the veins were galenite, sphalerite and tetrahedrite with accompanying minerals, such as pyrite (iron ore mineral), chalcopyrite (cooper ore mineral), cinnabar (mercury mineral), elementary mercury and baryte. Production was generally low in terms of quantity and irregular, and most ore was extracted from the Sitarjevec Mine near Litija, where no more than 3,200 tonnes of lead and 2,000 tonnes of silver were extracted from some 20,000 tonnes of ore at the best of times.
Inspections of accessible shafts and the surface above the Mine revealed that geological conditions and mineralisation at the Padež Mine were similar to those identified in the other Carboniferous lead and zinc deposits in the Posavje Folds. All shafts on the map were excavated from micaceous-quartz sandstone with siltstone intercalations. No vein mineralisation was identified in the micaceous-quartz sandstone at the examined faces I, II and III on the macro and micro level, but it may be assumed that thicker veins were exploited at lower levels than those accessible today.
Walls and ceilings of abandoned shafts were frequently lined with secondary ore minerals, such as epsomite, aragonite and calcite, which represent a wealth of natural resources at the Padež Mine. Crystals of epsomite, known as hydrated magnesium sulphate or bitter salt, emerge in the form of white tuberous aggregates, which can be found at the Padež Mine most often in the entry shaft (Figure 5). Deeper in the Mine on the rims of shafts, there are frequent branching aragonite special stalactite shapes, scallops, stalagmites and stalactites, and short flowstone draperies (Figure 6) (Majcen & Golež, 2010). There is also beautiful fauna in the Padež Mine (Figure 7).
A geological pillar was erected in front of the entry to the ancient Mine with the rocks used for building in and around Laško Municipality (Figure 8). Next to the pillar, there is an information board explaining the type, age and structure of the mentioned rocks. With the arrangement of the Mine for the purposes of tourism, natural resources at the Padež Mine were mostly physically secured with a fence that prevents their further destruction while allowing an uninterrupted process of their development into forms not yet known.
Most lead mines in the Posavje Folds were abandoned at the beginning of the 19th century. Exploitation at Padež most likely also ended at that time. Mine shafts hence gained a new meaning that can only be properly evaluated today, particularly through the contribution of the work invested by former miners. The abandoned shafts bear an impression of human labour, friendship and solidarity, i.e. rich intangible heritage that is transferred to today’s visitors to the Padež Mine. It touches each one in its own way, i.e. through research work, DNA of miners’ descendants, memories of cleaning collapsed shafts, hanging out in galleries and chatting with the Mine caretaker, on a walk along the educational forest trail or merely by looking at the photos taken upon a visit to the Mine.