The impulse to built a copper smelter came from the director of the Vítkovice Mining and Metallurgical Company Paul Kupelwieser (1843–1919). The construction of the smelter commenced in 1878 in the area between Martin smelter and the coking plant. After more than twenty years (1900–1901), the new copperworks was moved east of the original operation, where it has remained to this day. The smelter was modernized in 1912 and underwent a major reconstruction in 1926. On 29 August 1944 the compound was hit by two bombs, which severely damaged the roasting furnace building. The operation soon resumed, though. The production of cementing copper continued throughout the 1950s. The copper smelter was closed down on 1 August 1962 due to the overall dilapidation of the operation, among others the unsafe condition of the chimney. In January 1964 the Vítkovice Ironworks economic council decided to establish a new specialized plant for the repair of mobile mixers and ladles for ferromanganese, the so-called Veronikas. From 1968 the adjoining copperworks hall served as a warehouse for refractory materials. Affiliated production shops were demolished. After 2003 the compound was used for storage of enamelled sheets and selected discarded operations. Between the years 2018 and 2020 both halls were converted into a branch of the National Museum of Agriculture.
Fig.1 Paul Kuppelwieser
Paul Kupelwieser (1843–1919) graduated from the Mining Academy in Styria. At the age of 25 he became the director of the ironworks in Graz. In 1872 he co-founded the rolling mill and fireclay plants in Teplice in Bohemia, and in 1876 he accepted the offer to take over the position of a director in Vítkovice Ironworks. Kupelwieser managed to pull the company out of a long crisis exacerbated by the Panic of 1873 in Vienna.
Fig. 2 Construction and relocation of the copper smelter
Location of the original copper smelter (Kupferextraktion) on the cadastral map, year 1896.
Fig. 3 Modernization of the operation
The newly relocated copper smelter was modernized in 1912. Manual roasting furnaces were pulled down and two five-storey mechanical rotary furnaces were built in their stead.
Fig. 4 Expansion of the copper smelter in 1926–1950
In 1926 key changes were made that gave the copper smelter compound its form. A new ore was established together with a mill for grinding slag. Extensions to the lye and roastery buildings were also constructed in that year. Both roasting furnaces were rebuilt to incorporate seven storeys. Another addition was a building for zinc precipitation. The dominant feature of the copper smelter compound was a 65-metre high chimney used to take gases from the roasting furnaces. In 1937 a vanadium plant was built, in which ferrovanadium was made from blast furnace slag. At the end of the 1930s and the beginning of the 1940s, the corporation added further extensions, established a chemical laboratory, and built a condensing tower to remove gases from roasting plant.
View of the copper smelter from the east, year 1926. The photograph documents the construction progress of a new precipitation plant (lye room extension), adjoining condensation plant, and copper warehouse. The photograph also provides a partial view of the mill and roasting plant.
View of the double hall from the northeast with large outdoor concrete ore tanks. The photograph shows a bridge crane above the halls.
Hanging the precipitation drums.
Fig. 8 Lye plant (interior)
There were twelve concrete vats in the lye plant. A bridge crane moved above the vats along the entire length of the hall. The crane has been preserved to this day, although the machine is no longer original.
Fig. 9 Ore warehouse (interior)
The hall you are standing in now originally served as an ore warehouse. The photograph shows that the floor level used to be noticeably lower than today. On the left there are adjoining outdoor ore storage sites and bins.
Aerial view of the entire compound with neighbouring factories, year 1946.
ČÚZK (Czech Geodetic and Cadastral Office)
View of the Veronika hall before reconstruction, May 2018.
View of the warehouse before reconstruction, May 2018.
Conversion of the halls into a branch of the National Museum of Agriculture, view from the southwest, May 2019.
Conversion of the halls into a branch of the National Museum of Agriculture, view from the northeast, May 2019.