GIG Experimental Mine ‘Barbara’


The EM ‘Barbara’ in Mikołów used to operate as an ordinary coal mine but after the WW II it has become the only research and scientific post in Poland with an experimental range for testing devices, equipment, materials and procedures in real-scale underground conditions.

The Experimental Mine ‘Barbara’ is a remarkable testing site in Poland with access not only to experimental testing facilities on the surface but also specialised equipment, materials and procedures to conduct research in large scale underground conditions.

The progress of science, the creation of new technologies and technical solutions on the micro and macro scale force development of modern research laboratories, without which such progress would be impossible.


Central Mining Institute (GIG), Katowice

Contact person

Robert Hildebrandt
Deputy Director of ‘Barbara’ Experimental Mine
Head of the Underground Research Department

Weronika Pojoy Guzmán

The facility and future expansion

The Experimental Mine ‘Barbara’ was founded in 1925 and its main functions were to be the Central Office of Mining Rescue and the Magnetic Observatory. After the WW II it became a part of Central Mining Institute. The underground workings were then modernized and adapted to conduct the research in the field of new mining solutions. At present the underground infrastructure enables numerous types of innovative research and projects, especially orientated on effectiveness and safety in mining as well as on environmental protection.

Nowadays the network of underground experimental galleries is a world class test stand for
a real- scale testing. In these workings, large explosions of dusts and gases are carried out. Modern equipment, experienced personnel and the facility itself, all of these conditions create a unique test site and can be used as a base for research work in all aspects related to safety in construction works, industrial buildings (factories, warehouses, etc.), as well as in public transport (subway, tunnels) and many others.

Main topics, of great importance to the global ecology and economics, dealt at the EM ‘Barbara’ recently, are:
• VAM (ventilation air methane) reduction from the ventilation shafts,
• carbon dioxide sequestration and enhanced coalbed methane recovery in the coal seams,
• research in the field of radioactivity hazards.
In the future EM ‘Barbara’ plans to focus on collaborating with different research institutions and industrial sector to develop innovative technologies, materials and know-how.

Site characteristics

Geological structure of the rock mass in the mine dates back to Quaternary period and productive Carboniferous. Lithological formation of rocks is not heterogeneous. Layers are formed from alternating fine and medium grained sandstones and shale among which numerous coal seams can be found. There is little vibration impact from plate tectonics.

The underground workings are located on two levels: 30 m and 46 m. The system of experimental headings includes several mining excavations, out of which the most important are the two underground experimental galleries of 400 m and 200 m. An integral part of underground research infrastructure are modern measurement systems and their dedicated sensors to check parameters of tested phenomena. All of them include optic fibre connection to the surface computer stands that allow direct analysis of the data obtained. A net of underground installed cameras provide real-time visualisation from the surface that guarantee a complex monitoring of the experiments. Moreover, a modern ventilation system of the workings enables an adequate regulation of the airflow parameters according to what is best for the purposes of tests.

Natural background radiation
NBR Scheme GIG EM Barbara

Specialized knowledge

The Experimental Mine ‘Barbara’ is a remarkable testing site in Poland with access not only to experimental testing facilities on the surface but also specialised equipment, materials and procedures to conduct research in large scale underground conditions. Extensive net of experimental workings makes it possible to conduct tests in multiple configurations: chambers, niches, intersections as well as underground galleries with openings to the surface. In the galleries of EM ‘Barbara’ very strong dust explosions have already been generated, including detonations of a dust-air mixture. These experiments are probably the first and so far the only examples of detonation of the dust-air mixture in large scale. Moreover, research on methane explosions and burnings took place at EM ‘Barbara’ with some great results.

Data available

Research data if not published in a form of generally accessible papers, journals or books might be obtained by contacting the institutions that requested the tests. Contact information for these partners is available on request. Some publications on experiments conducted might be found in GIG’s library in Katowice.

Travel to laboratory

Experimental Mine ‘Barbara’ in Mikołów, is located in the south of Poland, in the middle of the Industrial Region -Upper Silesia. It is 15 km away from the GIG ‘s seat in Katowice.

Mikołów can be reached from:

• Katowice Pyrzowice Airport within an hour by car (50 km),

• Kraków Balice Airport within an hour by the motorway (80 km).

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