WG Labour in Mining

Labour in Mining


The EHLN working group Labour in Mining aims at creating and expanding existing, more or less formal and informal contacts and networks of scholars with an interest in labour in mining sector in Europe and around the world. The WG wishes to exchange knowledge, to organize meetings and workshops, to organize and design collective projects, and to participate with sessions in the ELHN Conferences.


Mining has special characteristics not only for its kind of jobs (typically in the underground), its morbidity and workplace accidents, its location linked to the existence of resources and migratory phenomena, the high potential for conflict and harsh working conditions. Its peculiarity has given to labour markets of the sector a kind of isolation in relation to other productive activities. These characteristics have given a particular evolution, reproducing itself internally (through the own families), and perpetuating cultural moulds that have continued along time. The study of the evolution of the labour relations in mining is useful not only for knowing the transformations of  labour in this sector, but also for elaborating more our knowledge of labour history in general, and in some labour markets, characterized by some grade of isolation, in particular.

We have a wide range of literature concerning labour activities in mining, both in the past and the present day. Although much has been done in the field of compiling sources and research, it is a topic that has suffered from a focus on the local scope and thus resulted in various clichés on miner's behavior. Furthermore, some elements have hardly been studied at all, for example: the role of women in the mines and the mining communities regarding the living conditions; the incidence of work related illnesses (silicosis, hydrargyrism, hookworm, lead poisoning, etc.). Moreover little has been studied about Europe's lack of vision about the sector as a whole regarding the evolution of the more relevant mining countries and hubs.

We would like to discuss research related to a broad range of themes and concepts in economic, social and cultural labour history of mining including but not limited to the following:

  • The intersection of class, race, gender, age, global inequality, etc. in labour in mining; Dual work (agricultural and mining), migrations, discrimination.
  • Labour relations: labour organisation, developing of the wage earner work, wages and remuneration systems, hiring and scientific organisation of labour.
  • Technological development and evolution of the job markets: from the steam to the electricity, from the gravimetric concentration systems to the differential flotation, the underground work and the open-cast work, labour problems, incidence in the health and conflicts, technological change and mining conjunctures.
  • Living conditions and inequality. Occupational health and safety in mining: mortality, morbidity, pollution and sanitary institutions.
  • Mining communities: characteristics, problems, urban penalty.
  • Strategies of the management, working movement, industrial paternalism, truck system, conflicts, trade unions.
  • Industrial archaeology of mining activities, immaterial patrimony, culture.
  • Archives of mining activities.

We wish to contribute in the relations between the researchers in this field, in the establishment of research lines and a frame to exchange information and knowledge, publications and other initiatives in this field. Moreover, we are offering a support to databases download and consultation on the mining labour, accesible for the Academy. We also aim at the exchange of knowledge about primary sources, archives, and literature related to the history of labour in mining.


LiM in the ELHN

LiM organized several sessions in the last 2 ELHN Conferences:

In the 4th ELHN 2nd WORCK Conference in Vienna, 2021: 4 sessions 

  • Environmental and Social Impacts of Mining in Time and Space I
  • Environmental and Social Impacts of Mining in Time and Space II
  • Economic and Social Impacts of Mining. The case of Spain
  • Economic and Social Impacts of Mining. Case Studies from USA, Africa, Europe

For more information about LiM sessions at ELHN2021 see:

In the 3rd ELHN Conference in Amsterdam 2019: 2 sessions (4 panels)

  • Living Conditions in Mining Towns in History
  • a joint session “Health Environment and Labour in Mining” with the WG “Occupational Health and Environmental Labour History (19th-21th c.)”

For more information about LiM activities at ELHN2019 see:

LiM activities outside ELHN

Patronage of the Summer course on “Minería histórica y nueva minería. De la historia socioeconómica al siglo XXI” (“Historical mining and new mining. From socioeconomic history to the 21th century”), La Rábida (Huelva, Spain), 20 – 23 July, 2021.

LiM Online activities

LiM keeps working all along the year with a rich series of online projects.
This digital life is made of daily exchanges and interactions via Twitter and the Facebook page, through which researchers can exchange ideas, links, papers or any other information and news (see the links to facebook and twitter in the section below).
Some of these news (CFP, publications, news about seminars, workshops or conferences) are shared via our blog. Events are recorded on a special "Mining History Agenda" page: https://lim.hypotheses.org/mining-history-agenda

LiM is also a creative content producer via its blog where periodical series of posts are published. Some of these blog series are collaborative and we are open to any kind of contribution that could fit in one of the series.

Main blog series are:

Articles Selection (seasonal, every 4 months):
Periodical posts listing interesting readings (mostly academic articles, but also blog posts) published in the previous 4 months, related to Mining History and similar disciplines. Authors are invited to notify their publications in order to be highlighted. You can find some exemples here.

Books selection (semestral):
Periodical posts listing interesting books published in the year, related to Mining History and similar disciplines. Authors are invited to notify their publications in order to be highlighted. You can find some exemples here

The Young Mining Historians Corner (Monthly, beginning september 2021):
Periodical post about young scholars (PhD candidate, Young Doctors, Professors or Lecturers), consisting in short abstracts about their thesis projets, thesis, ongoing researches related to mining history and similar disciplines. Researchers are highly invited to send us proposals at labourinmining@gmail.com.

Database of Databases in Mining History (continous updating):
List of references of existing databases and sources about mining history or related disciplines available open access.


We periodically send a Newsletter to our members. In this newsletter we inform about many things, not only related to our activities. We are always interested to receive information about CFP, Seminars, Workshops, Lectures, Publications, Expos, Events related to mining history or similar disciplines. If you organize some, please send us the program or a small abstract.

Call for contributions

Here you can find how to contribute : https://lim.hypotheses.org/888

History of coordination commitee

  • 2017: Miguel Á. Pérez de Perceval Verde, Leda Papastefanaki and Francesca Sanna
  • 2019: Miguel Á. Pérez de Perceval Verde stepped down. José Joaquín García Gómez became coordinator with Leda Papastefanaki and Francesca Sanna
  • 2020: Gabriele Marcon became coordinator with Leda Papastefanaki and Francesca Sanna and José Joaquín García Góme
  • 2021: Leda Papastefanaki stepped down after being elected as Chair of the ELHN


The coordinators of the ELHN Working Group Labour in Mining are:

To contact the working group please send an e-mail to labourinmining@gmail.com and use the PDF contact form attached below.

External links

You can find the ELHN Working Group Labour in Mining on the web:

[last updated 25 April 2023]