The team stow away their valuables and kit themselves out with the appropriate gear, ready for the adventure that lies ahead. Located near the wreck of a concrete pile driver, the way into the mine turns out to be a ventilation shaft sealed with a steel plug. All of the other possible entrances are similarly blocked or concreted over. The message is clear: do not enter. And with good reason. Abandoned mines are no place for inexperienced sightseers. Hidden dangers lurk around every dark corner; indeed, they linger in the very air itself.
Image: Vadim Mahorov
Yet, these mine explorers are not to be put off by hazards that might discourage less intrepid – or foolhardy – folk. And the physical barrier of a steel stopper certainly doesn’t deter them. The team has a blowtorch that makes quick work of the metal seal, sparks flying down into the darkness below. A few minutes’ work and they’re in – descending into a mine whose maximum depth is 880 meters (2,887 feet) beneath the surface.