Businessmen of the Primorska region gathered at the 23rd annual meeting which was organised by the North-Primorska regional chamber on 24 May in Ajdovščina to witness the presentation of awards to outstanding regional projects and innovations. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia innovation awards have a longstanding tradition and seek to foster the innovation activity of businesses as a driver of sustainable economic development and enabler of entrepreneurship. Following an invitation, the regional chamber received 13 entries which included 55 regional innovators. 2 bronze awards, 4 silver awards and 7 gold awards were handed out at the ceremony.
Gold innovation award went to the Idrija Mercury Heritage Management Centre led by a team of experts for their innovative exhibition entitled “From Ore to Mercury Drops in the Smelting Plant”; the latter is an innovative and educational exhibition that takes its visitors on a journey through the development of mining and smelting industry in Idrija. The exhibition is accommodated in the restored smelting plant which is now considered a cultural monument, and in the newly built visitor centre, while the whole site is listed as the UNESCO World Heritage.
Consisting of three thematically interlinked sets, the exhibition puts into spotlight the history of smelting industry and presents some of the innovations that Idrija smelters and experts brought to the world. The second part of the exhibition focuses on mercury, its chemical and physical properties and use, both in the past and nowadays. Finally, an elevator takes visitors to the uppermost level of the restored classifier (final station of the mining tramway) where they can relive the entire procedure of mercury recovery from mercury ore. The exhibition ‘’From Ore to Mercury Drops’’ is part of the project “Idrija Smelting Plant” which was co-financed by the EEA Financial Mechanism Programme 2009–2014. The smelting plant opened its doors to visitors on 1 February 2017.
Project “Idrija Smelting Plant”
This extensive project, which ran for two years between January 2015 and January 2017, included the restoration and protection of the classifier, construction and fit-out of the visitor and exhibition centre, restoration of mining machines and equipment, landscaping, and preparation of the exhibition itself. Over 80 individuals helped put up the exhibition presenting the heritage of the cultural monument; the project team also produced tourism-related content and educational materials, developed tourism packages and programmes and promotional materials, organised a number of events, carried out information and promotion activities, participated in study visits to learn about good practices in foreign countries, and supported public involvement and engagement.