Through interdisciplinary research, the research team has adopted the multi-dimensional approach advocated in The Dublin Principles to document, understand and establish the significance of the MOS Iron Mine as an industrial heritage site. The genesis, growth and death of the mining site not only encapsulate an important chapter of industrialisation in Hong Kong, its evolution had been co-constituted by socio-economic, political and technological developments in time and space. The remains of the MOS Iron Mine continue to tell the story of a joint venture by a local trading company and a Japanese mining company from the 1950s to the 1970s, involving at that time, advanced mining technologies and organisational know-how. The embedded knowledge is valuable as educational resources for interdisciplinary learning for professionals, corporates, NGOs, students and the general public.
The development of the MOS Iron Mine had to do with events related to the civil war in China, the setting up of the PRC, the Cold War, Japan’s reindustrialisation, industrial take-off and local and international economic growth. The influx of migrants into Hong Kong and the gathering of missionaries departed from China in the former colony were all important to the MOS Iron Mine story. The St. Joseph’s Chapel and the Lutheran Church started their service to the poor miners and the local communities in the MOS Iron Mine before the coming of Japanese investments. Their dedicated services to nourish not just their souls but also their bodily needs including education, medication, food and clothing through relief items and accommodation had facilitated the development of relationship-rich communities that also learned to practise mutuality. This MOS spirit, if better known and better told, is another face of the Hong Kong spirit, often captured by the phrase “Below the Lion Rock”, a television drama series about people’s life and livelihood in the 1970s.
However, not every heritage item or site in Hong Kong has been documented from a multi-dimensional perspective. And the existing legal and administrative set up are not effective for P-L-P conservation. The conservation approach in Hong Kong focuses on individual historic buildings and only designated monuments are protected by law. CHO does not seem to have the necessary power and tools to protect, conserve and manage the identified heritage features. Furthermore, there is a need to identify sustainable financial resources for promoting heritage conservation.
This research has established the conservation values of the MOS Iron Mine landscape and put forward a draft set of industrial heritage conservation guidelines, suggestions to empower conservation institutions as well as a strategy for P-L-P conservation for the MOS Iron Mine landscape.
This landscape is the result of decades of interactions between human beings and nature in the context of interrelated socio-economic, political, technological and industrial developments at different geographical scales. This landscape has left behind relics, structures and cultural and social legacies. The multi-dimensional and multi-scalar knowledge communicated through the landscape is an invaluable educational resources for us and our future generations. Perhaps our current society should really seriously consider changing its institutional set up so that this culturally significant knowledge can be saved for Hong Kongers who will live in this place for many more decades, if not centuries, to come.