How it started
The Belgium soil is like Swiss cheese, full of abandoned mine sites. When Stefan Panis got interested in exploring and researching mine sites, it turned out not to be easy and a lot of issues had to be overcome, as the mines are either on private land or on government land with much of the sites closed by fences for hibernation of the protected bats.
In 2020, Stefan Panis founded the Mine Exploration Team in order to be able to do exploration on an official base, returning important information to the landowners. The first big project of the Team was the Morépire project in an old mine that was turned into the museum mine “Au Coeur de l’ardoise” in 1996. Due to the Corona pandemic, the mine was closed to visitors and the owner granted the team a one-time-only access to document the site. It was a slate mine that was active from the 1700s until 1977, when the pumps stopped and the mine flooded.
Beginning 2021: Start of Project Morépire. The expedition exploration of the -45 m level with long corridors made it quite clear, that the team needed scooters. Seacraft provided Future 1000 scooters allowing the team to travel faster through the corridors and limiting decompression. On the last exploration day, the team was filmed by TV Luxembourg, preparing a documentary on the team’s project.
Exploration of the -60 m level
2022: Start of the exploration of the -60 m level. On this expedition, several new chambers were located, bringing the total explored distance up to 4 km. Connections were made of 2 shafts going in different directions, but joining again in the deep section. After this expedition, the team started to complete the 3D topography of the mine.
The final expedition is approaching
2023: The team hopes to get a last chance to do a final expedition to dive into a last unexplored branch in the deepest level.
Seacraft supports Stefan Panis and his team during the project by providing Future 1000 scooters. Using DPVs allows them to move faster through the corridors and get to unexplored branches in the deepest level of the mine.
For us, the Seacraft scooters proved to be perfect! Ideal fitting in a caving bag, making the long descent to the dive site more easy. Robust, as not to forget we are in a mine, a quite hostile environment. Last and not least, very reliable, as they have never let us down during the expedition.