The BMU not-for-profit organisation (Bassin Minier Uni - United Mining Basin) was founded in September 2002 by Jean-François CARON, Mayor of Loos-en-Gohelle, and Pierre MAUROY, former Prime Minister, then Chair of Metropolitan Lille Urban Community, Chair of the BMU Support Committee.
BMU had a two-fold purpose: prepare the application and organise the involvement of all stakeholders in this approach.
On 30 January 2003, date on which it was officially launched in Lens, BMU undertook to prepare and take responsibility for the Nord/Pas-de-Calais Coalfield application to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as an Evolving Cultural Landscape.
On 30 June 2012, the Mining Basin was officially inscribed on the World Heritage List. Now 120 kilometre-long area featuring, 87 municipalities, 17 pits, 21 pit heads, 51 slag heaps, 3 stations, 124 estates, 38 schools, 26 religious buildings, community centres and 4,000 hectares of landscape bear the colours of the heritage resulting from three centuries of coalmining.
Find out more: www.bmu.fr
Since its creation, the BMU association has also been involved in work for the community. By opening its doors to volunteers interested in the region's future, the BMU has given impetus to the creation of workshops and clubs. For example, Father Michel BECQUART and the Lens mining towns club have rekindled the Sainte-Barbe festival in his area. As well as a mass and a procession, the father organizes an intergenerational gathering each year on a particular theme (retired miners, marriage at the mine...). This day finishes with a bonfire involving everyone.
An initial success was the application of the Nord-Pas de Calais Mining region to the World Heritage site listing submitted by the State of France to the World Heritage Centre on 25th January 2010. This will be assessed at the next annual meeting of the World heritage committee in 2011 or 2012.
The town of Lens is a member of the club of BMU communities.
The inclusion of the Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin on the World Heritage List as an Evolving Cultural Landscape includes:
- 17 pits and large-scale remains of pits,
- 21 pit frames,
- 51 slagheaps,
- 54 kilometres of disused railway tracks,
- 3 railway stations,
- 124 workers’ estates,
- 46 schools, 26 churches and chapels,
- 24 hospitals and other health centres ,
- 6 leisure facilities,
- three mining company head offices,
- 4,000 hectares of landscape.
St Ame's headframe