The sink hole of Altenberg represents the largest one of its kind in the Eastern Ore Mountains mining area and is testimony for the significant importance in tin mining of central Europe and its duration for centuries.
The sink hole of Altenberg represents a depression from underground mining in an order of magnitude that has been of significant importance for tin mining in central Europe. Further it is part of the transboundary mining landscape Altenberg-Zinnwald. The mine site features a stockwork mineralization in the style of an intensely evolved network of cassiterite (tin stone) bearing veinlets and so called “greisen zones” which lead to a low grade (0.36 % tin content), but pervasive and high volume character of the deposit.
Since 1436 the underground mine has been developed in an arduous way. From 1545 on it was mined in blocks using fire setting and was accompanied by continuous collapses of underground stopes and drives which finally led to the great collapse in 1620. The latter damaged most of the underground development and left a sink hole at surface with the size of two hectares. Since then tin has been mined underground from collapsed rock.
From 1976 the remaining in-situ ore body has been mined. Underground stoping lead again to rock fracturing at the rims of the sink-hole and today gives a twelve hectares sized depression. It now measures 400 m in diameter and 160 m at it deepest point. Weathering still leads to rock loosening at the rims.
From its square measures the sink hole of Altenberg represents the largest one in the Eastern Ore Mountains mining area and is testimony for agelong tin mining.