Jan Antonín Alis (1732-1801)

Personality in Mining section

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Mining and metallurgy expert, board member. Jan Antonín Alis was born on 11th January 1732 in Vysoká Pec near Příbram. He was one of the most important personalities in the Bohemian mining business in the second half of the 18th century. After graduating from Mining vocational school in Jáchymov, he first became a practitioner in mining plant Březová Hora in Příbram. In 1755 he was appointed mining shifts chief and later metallurgy expert. In 1770 he was sent to Ostrava to perform first-ever verified and localised coal finding.

Alis was proclaimed to solve problems of the mining crisis in Příbram region during its profound decline. He soon celebrated success when he used his own methods. He became a pioneer of deep mining in Březová Hora silver mining districts in 1772. In that time, he was already appointed mining shifts chief and later metallurgy expert. He chose areas affected by mining since the Middle Ages to realise his intention. Based on his proposal, the Vojtěch Mine (with its original name Nová Jáma) was constructed in Březové Hory in 1779.

In the 1880s there was a new ore processing plant installed based on Alis’ proposals and it was the most modern technical device at that time. In 1789, Alis was present at the opening of the Anna Mine. These mines are an important part of both European and world history. Firstly, the Vojtěch Mine reached the vertical depth of 1000 m in 1875. Secondly, the Anna Mine became the deepest mine in Europe in the 1920s. Furthermore, these mines were the first in Austrian ore districts where steam engines were used.

In 1786 building of a new silver smelter began which started working in 1793. Alis also suggested proposal on efficient pumping and extraction system and drainage of the entire area. Deposit exploration was carried out during his employment in Příbram and its surroundings. He was appointed mining council thanks to his dealing with crisis and successful attempts to develop the mining industry. He monitored works in Příbram Region, mines in Jílové near Prague and Nový Knín in Centram Bohemia as well as Kašperské Mountain on west and others. Březová Hora Region became one of the most important mine regions in Europe and worldwide. He died in 1801 shortly after his retirement. There is a square in Březová Hora named after him.

He was an important personality in the mining industry in Bohemia in the 18th century. His work is connected to Central Bohemia Region (Kutná Hora, Příbram, Jílové etc.) It was mostly thanks to him that Březová Hora District in Příbram overcame its profound crisis and it is ranked as the most important mines of Europe and worldwide when there were about 90 % mines from whole Austria-Hungarian Empire.

He died on 19th September 1801 in Příbram.

Author: PaedDr. Josef Velfl, Director of Mining museum in Příbram