The coalmines play a major role in the history of Limburg. In Beringen the mining past is still very present: the former mining settlement was almost fully preserved and is a gem of industrial archaeology, the surrounding garden suburbs have kept much of their charm and uniqueness and the former slag heaps have been turned into walking areas. The Mine Museum has been on the mining site since 1986 and offers numerous varied programmes for individual visitors, groups and schools.
The first coalmine was dug out of the Campine subsoil in 1901. After a long start-up period this discovery led to the establishment of seven coalmines: Winterslag, Beringen, Eisden, Waterschei, Zwartberg, Zolder and Houthalen. Coal production reached its peak after World War Two and lay at the basis of the economic development of Belgium. In the late 1950s coal had to deal with competition from cheaper sources of energy. To limit loss, the various mines merged in ‘NV Kempische Steenkoolmijnen’ in 1967, but closing down became inevitable. The last Limburg coalmine closed in Zolder on 30 September 1992. Today, traces of Beringen’s mining past are still very present, in the Mine Museum as well as in the unique vicinity of Beringen Mine.