History of the Bratrství repository
Mining in the surroundings of Jáchymov dates back to 1516, the year in which the town was founded. The Bratrství mine is one of a number of former silver mines located in the area and is of particular interest owing to the fact that the Zdař Bůh mining gallery was “blind”, in that it did not intersect with the surface. The mine tower and engine room were located underground and the ore was transported to the surface via a horizontal tunnel. Following the mining of silver and the subsequent extraction of heavy metals, the mining of uranium ore commenced at the Bratrství site in the late 19th century.
The Bratrství repository in the 19th and 20th centuries
It was at the Bratrství uranium mine that Marie Curie-Skłodowská focused the attention of her research when searching for compounds that emitted high radioactivity levels. Research over a period of four years led to the discovery of polonium, which Marie Curie named after her native Poland, and, eventually, to that of the much more radioactive radium. The first gram of radium isolated from pitchblende originated from the former Bratrství mine near Jáchymov.
The promising development of the newly-emerging Jáchymov spa district in the 1930s laid the foundations for the many radioactive thermal spas in existence today. The industrial mining of uranium under infamously inhuman conditions commenced following the end of World War II. Up to 1964, when the mining of uranium ore in Jáchymov ended, approximately 7,200 tonnes of uranium had been exported from this site to the USSR.
Ten years later, part of the mining tunnel was reconstructed so as to allow for its use as the Bratrství repository for radioactive waste, which is still in operation today.