A total of 18 points are identified which fall into two categories of heritage. The mining-related heritage include open-pit mining, exterior walls of 240ML, underground structures, exterior walls of 110ML, mineral preparation plants, structures for auxiliary operations, branch office of mutual trust company, technical staff dormitory, clinic and canteen-cum-granary. The settlement-related heritages include Ping On Bridge Tablet, former house cum grocery store; St. Joseph’s Chapel compound; footbridge; Lutheran Yan Kwong Church compound; Shun Yee San Tsuen and Ma On Shan Village Old People’s Association.
A line can be drawn to link up all the points, including heritage items near the former Pier District (Mineral Preparation (ore dressing) Plant, 110ML and tunnel and Shun Yee San Tsuen) and the Peak District (with mining and settlement heritages) with potential sites (the Mid-level District and Ma On Bridge District) for further investigation and research in between. The first ore dressing (mineral preparation) plant was built with post-WWII Japanese investment in 1954. The location of the ore dressing plant could be a convenient starting point to explain the vanished Pier District and the importance of Japanese investment and technology transfer in building up the MOS Iron Mine.
The 110ML tunnel encapsulated Japanese technology in underground mining, tunneling and transportation arrangements in the 1950s and 1960s. Visitors to the 110ML tunnel can imagine the connection of the tunnel with the underground structures that eventually lead to the exterior walls of 240ML as well as the open-pit mining area, marking the genesis of the story of the MOS Iron Mine.
A visit to the development and management of the nearby Shun Yee San Tsuen could be a good starting point to explain the importance of religious organisations in the development of the MOS settlements.
Along the Ma On Shan Tsuen Road is the Mid-level District, a Chiu Chow community, that used to supply agricultural produce to the mining communities. It is the only MOS settlement where traditional Chinese religious structures can be found. Ma On Bridge District can be seen as “spill-over” development from the Peak District. Based on the historical review, the Peak District is the most significant site in telling the complete MOS Iron Mine story and hence it is recommended to be conserved as an area or a plane.
Base on the SWOT analysis of the research materials, an online survey and an online workshop, we prepared a proposal tp conserve the MOS Iron Mine landscape using a Point-Line-Plane approach.
According to Planning Department, features contributing to the character of a landscape include natural (solid geology, topography, soil, natural hydrological features, vegetation, coastal water) and human (settlements, land use, transportation features, cultural value, artificial hydrological elements) features. And the research team consider two main landscape character types (LCTs) and two related LCTs surrounding the MOS Iron Mine and its settlements particularly relevant in identifying a physical plane. Three of these four identified LCTs are related to what Planning Department called an “Upland Countryside Landscape” (upland and hillside landscape, settled valley landscape and peak landscape). The other belongs to an “Urban Fringe Landscape” (residential urban fringe landscape). These LCTs provide substantially researched evidence for us to identify a physical plane in the MOS Iron Mine landscape.
The “settled valley landscape” LCT covers all the points in the Peak District as well as the Wan Village, Ma On Bridge District and Mid-level District. 110ML Tunnel and Shun Yee San Tsuen fall under the “peak landscape” LCT and “upland and hillside landscape” LCT. The ore dressing (mineral preparation) plant in the vicinity of these two heritage items falls in the “residential urban fringe landscape” LCT.
Three clusters of heritage can be identified within this plane. The Peak District comprises many points that when connected tell a profound story of the developments of the MOS Iron Mine and its related human settlement. It is suggested that the Peak District should be conserved in ways that would not compromise the integrity of the natural and cultural landscapes. These comprise the open-pit areas, entrance as well as facilities built to enable underground mining. The mining history is related to inter-related local, regional, national and international histories, involving migration of technologies, capital, culture and human resources. The two church compounds and the evolving built environment not only contain rich collective memories of a community of migrants from different parts of China, they have indeed witnessed the impacts of multi-scalar cultural changes over time. The landscape witnessed the importance of sacrifice (by the missionaries), mutuality (by community members) and ecological resources in building relationship-rich communities with multifaceted well-being even in face of poverty and scarcity. The identification of a plane does not mean that development within the plane has to be frozen. Rather, any new development should respect the integrity and authenticity of the plane, including its historical and cultural significance.
The second cluster of mining heritage is in or close to the “residential urban fringe landscape” LCT, comprising the ore dressing (mineral preparation) plant, the 110ML tunnel and the Shun Yee San Tsuen. Given their proximity to the MOS New Town and consequent development pressure, it is suggested that any future potential development should incorporate these heritage sites into its design, striving for a “development cum conservation” solution.
The third cluster that can be identified within this plane is the Ma On Bridge and the Mid-level Districts a well as the Wan Village. Due to resource limitation, these settlements and their relationships with the MOS Iron Mine have not been studied thoroughly in this project. As mentioned before, land in the Wan Village was sold to a private developer in the 1990s and a potential housing site was identified near the Mid-level District in 2017. It is hoped that a “conservation cum development” approach would be adopted in their future development. Redevelopment of the Wan Village and its vicinity needs to respect the integrity of the Peak District Cluster. If housing development were to take place near the Mid-level District, efforts should be made to allow existing residents, especially those active farmers, to have options to continue their life and livelihood in the District.