105-year-old iconic shaft buck at be-MINE shines back in full glory after 18 months of restoration

After 18 months of intensive renovation, after the previously restored southern shaft tower, the northern one now shines. With their 60-meter height, both monuments tower high above the landscape and form the tourist recreation site be-MINE signboard. The restoration itself was a daring task, involving the replacement of 39.6 tons of steel and 8,400 liters of paint. The total cost was 4.7 million euros.

Shaft trestles were crucial to the operation of coal mines, as they served to transport miners, equipment, and, of course, coal itself. The mines could not function without these imposing structures, as they carry the cable wheels and elevators driven by the retrieval buildings’ machines.

Each mine always had two shafts, essential for ventilation. One shaft was equipped with a fan that extracted air. This way, a negative pressure was created, and fresh air was drawn in from the other shaft. This was necessary to remove the fumes and dust generated by the operation.

Today, the shaft trestles are iconic landmarks in the landscape: they tower high above the surrounding terrain and mark the Bering mine site. They are, therefore, the signboard for the new tourist recreational site be-MINE.

39.6 tons of steel and 8,400 liters of paint

The south shaft trestle was scaffolded in 2018 for a thorough restoration, and in 2022, it was the turn of the north shaft trestle. These steel structures have been braving weather and wind for 105 years now. Therefore, a paint system protects the shaft trestles from all weather conditions. The paint will degrade over time under the influence of UV light, moisture, and the expansion and movement of the metal profiles. The layers of paint become brittle, crack, and powder, and the humidity causes steel corrosion. Rust crusts exert mechanical pressure on these paint layers, accelerating the degradation process.

“Before the restoration, we could see that the paint layers were already highly weathered in certain places, and the steel was rusting badly. As a result, the steel deforms, and the whole thing becomes unstable. So restoration was necessary,” explains Karolien Sas, general manager of be-MINE. “The restoration work included careful cleaning of the metal, a thorough inspection of the structure, restoration of the steel parts, and applying a new protective coat of paint. Thus, 39.6 tons of steel were replaced, and 8,400 liters of paint were used. Today, we proudly announce that both shaft trestles have been restored and have regained their dignified appearance.”

Jos Lantmeeters, Governor of Limburg: “The be-MINE shaft trestles, with their imposing presence, are not only witnesses to our industrial past but also to our determination to preserve and cherish our heritage. The restoration of these iconic structures is more than just the preservation of our heritage; it is an act of respect for our roots, a recognition of our identity as a mining region, and a promise to future generations. Moreover, this restoration is a tribute to the resilience of our community and a celebration of our connection to the past, present, and future. For me, it is further proof that the synergy between LRM and the LSM Foundation works and is capable of great achievements.”

Thomas Vints, Mayor of Beringen: “The shaft trestles are part of the historical heritage of the town of Beringen and are inextricably linked to our identity and rich mining past. And we like to put that in the spotlight literally. Therefore, starting this summer, both shaft trestles will be highlighted, allowing the two monumental towers to act as beacons of light on be-MINE. This is another step in the phased implementation of the lighting plan drawn up for the entire be-MINE site.”

Tom Vanham, General Manager of LRM: “When the mines were closed in the early 1990s, it was decided to preserve one of the 7 Limburg mines almost in its entirety and make it available for future generations to commemorate the importance of the mines for Limburg, and especially the hard work of the miners themselves, and that is the site of be-MINE in Beringen. The fact is that not only the typical pithead buildings, but also many of the various buildings with their specific functions typical of a coal mining site, were preserved on this site in 2024. Thanks to the efforts of the many people involved and the pre-financing by be-MINE, a partnership between LRM, Van Roey Vastgoed, and Ciril, from now on, visitors will once again be able to admire both iconic shaft trestles in full splendor and around the site as silent witnesses and at the same time majestic beacons in the landscape.”

THV mining (Van Roey & Democo) was in charge of this restoration.

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