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SIMMEX trade fair: Where Silesian industry connects the world


SIMMEX trade fair: Where Silesian industry connects the world

We are standing on Kwiatowy Square, one of the main squares in the capital of the Silesian province. Along the tram line on Korfantego Street there is a row of trees, on the right there is the Silesian Insurgents’ Park. In the background, Katowice’s Spodek sports and entertainment hall and the city’s jewel – the International Congress Center – proudly stand out, their austere, coal-like shape pleasing to the eye. The Bartosz Shaft, a remnant of the former Katowice-Kleofas Coal Mine, rises above it and is now part of the construction of the new headquarters of the Silesian Museum.

This is the Silesian landscape in a nutshell. Tradition meets modernity, ambition meets technology. A living history of the region – a history of industry, development and evolution. It is no coincidence that the SIMMEX Fair, now the EXPO KATOWICE International Fair, has been held in Upper Silesia for almost 40 years. It is an event closely connected with the history of Silesia, which has become an integral part of the region’s landscape.

Let’s go back to the 80s of the twentieth century, when the Poznañ International Fair took the initiative to organize an event for the mining, energy and metallurgy industries. Thus, the first edition of SIMMEX (an acronym of the words Silesia, Metal and Export[1]), which accompanied the 54th International Fair in Poznañ. It was inaugurated in 1983 on the premises of the now defunct Center of Technical Progress in the Silesian Park in Chorzów. Although the scale of the event was much smaller than it is today, even then it underscored the ambition to reach beyond the country’s borders with its offerings and provided a showcase for the capabilities of Polish heavy industry. Visitors to the Poznań fair, including Polish diplomatic and trade representatives from 30 countries, took part in a trip to Katowice, during which they had the opportunity to visit the exhibition and see Silesian plants. This visit was a proof of the fair’s international aspirations and a harbinger of its future success.[2]

SIMMEX ’85: Expansion, ambition and international recognition

And this is where the real history of SIMMEX begins. It was decided that the rank and theme of the event were so important for Polish development that they deserved their own place and time. In 1985, the fair moved to the Katowice “Spodek” – an architectural icon of the region and a venue with much greater exhibition possibilities. It became an independent event of international importance. The goal was clear: to showcase the industry’s achievements, export offers and facilitate cooperation with developing and socialist countries. It was a challenge, but also an opportunity to present Polish industry as an equal partner on the global stage.[3]

The days from August 27 to 31, 1985, were a milestone for the event, as the first independent SIMMEX ’85 trade fair was held. Its inauguration was attended by well-known personalities from the world of politics and business, underlining the growing importance of the event. Several hundred exhibitors from 14 countries presented their technical achievements in the fields of mining, energy and metallurgy. The exhibits occupied more than 11,500 square meters of the Spodek area, the hall of the adjacent ice rink and the nearby parking lot, which was specially adapted for the presentation of mining equipment, including some machines in motion.[4] Such an event Poland has not yet known!

Numerous participations in symposia, conferences and meetings testify to the interest in Polish technology all over the world. An example is the “Afroment ’85” session, which was an opportunity to present Polish technologies and metallurgical machinery to representatives of African countries. Government experts from more than a dozen African countries were impressed by what they saw – modern engineering and metallurgical processing departments and plants.

Among the approximately 30,000 visitors to SIMMEX ’85, the vast majority were specialists and professionals who deal with mining, metallurgical and industrial technologies on a daily basis. Thanks to the exhibition, they were able to find out where world technology is heading and what solutions are being used by renowned companies.

A perfect summary could be the statement of the Deputy Prime Minister Zbigniew Messner, in which he emphasized the importance of SIMMEX not only as an exhibition, but also as a platform for international dialog and technological exchange.

– SIMMEX is a very successful event. It perfectly complements the Poznań International Fair without competing with it. I also see advantages in the fact that a very large number of people who are directly interested in what is new in such fields as mining, power generation and metallurgy can visit the fair in Katowice. I believe that “SIMMEX” should become a cyclical event, held every few years” said Deputy Prime Minister Zbigniew Messner to the reporter of “Trybuna Robotnicza”.[5]

SIMMEX ’87: A vision of the global future

With each successive edition, SIMMEX has strengthened its position as an important point on the map of international industrial events. The presence at SIMMEX ’87 of more than 300 exhibitors from 14 countries and the participation of prestigious foreign companies, such as Voest Alpine and Siemens, proved that Polish heavy industry could compete on an equal footing with global giants. The development of the fair also reflected the changes in the Polish economy, which was opening up more and more to the world.

At the opening of the event, Jerzy Sviatrad, then Mayor of Katowice, expressed the hope that “Katowice
will make a lasting mark as the host of this important international exhibition and trade event. After all, it is the capital of a province where heavy industry is concentrated, where specialized research centers operate and where Poland’s leading foreign trade centers have their headquarters. He wished all the participants that the fair, like the one 2 years ago, would allow them to conclude many useful contacts and contracts”.[6]

And so it was. Once again, SIMMEX ’87 was not only a showcase of capabilities, but also a platform for important scientific and technical symposia, which became the “scientific background” of the fair. This was confirmed, among other things, by the successful “Afromet ’87” meeting.

Thus, it is safe to say that SIMMEX has transformed itself from a local event into an international platform for industrial dialog, which was clearly demonstrated by the number and diversity of participants and the growing interest of foreign contractors.

SIMMEX ’89: On the threshold of a new era

The year 1989 had come, the political system was about to change, Poland was about to change and with it the economy. The SIMMEX Fair entered a new era, reflecting the dynamic changes taking place not only in the Polish economy, but also on the political map of Europe. The third edition of the Silesian International Mining, Power Generation and Metallurgy Fair, which took place from September 3 to 7, was a unique event that attracted 250 exhibitors from 13 countries.

Organized in the Katowice “Spodek”, SIMMEX ’89 was a testimony to the technological growth and innovation of the Polish industry. The total exhibition area of 11,400 square meters was the stage for the latest developments in mining, power generation and metallurgy. Products presented by 75 foreign companies, with the dominant presence of companies from the Federal Republic of Germany and Austria, showed how much the Polish market has opened up to international cooperation.

SIMMEX ’89 featured not only a wide range of innovative products, but also a forum for the exchange of technical knowledge and best practices. The show was accompanied by symposia and presentations where companies such as Siemens, Diefenbach and Hauhinco from Germany and Plasser and Theuer from Austria presented their latest design and technology solutions. Along with the exhibition, the sessions were an important part of the show, highlighting its role as a center for innovation and technological development.[7]

Summary: SIMMEX Legacy and New Horizons

The history of SIMMEX is a story of ambition, striving for excellence and openness to the world.
From the first edition, through the years of economic and political transformation, SIMMEX has not only witnessed change, but has also actively participated in it, presenting Polish technological and engineering thought on the global stage. This is the story of how Polish industry, based on tradition and experience, is following the path of innovation, gaining recognition and creating new opportunities for future generations.

Thanks to SIMMEX, Katowice has also become known as a city that not only hosts important exhibition events, but also as a place where Polish technological thought and industrial achievements are presented against the background of global trends. It is here, in the industrial heart of Silesia, that the global mining, energy and metallurgical industries are developing, and it is here that the fair dynamically responds to the changing reality with each edition.


[1] Goniec Górnośląski, nr 35/1692, 1989 r., “Invitation to SIMMEX ’89,” access 7.032024: https://www.sbc.org.pl/publication/558575

[2] Wiadomości Górnicze, nr 1-85, 1985 r., access 7.03.2024: https://www.sbc.org.pl/publication/606126

[3] Wiadomości Górnicze, nr 1-85, 1985 r., access na 7.03.2024: https://www.sbc.org.pl/publication/606126

[4] Wiadomości Zagłębia Tygodnik informacyjno-publicystyczny, nr 35 (1528), 1985 r., “SIMMEX with participation of Zagłębie companies. Technology overview and export offer.”, access 07.03.2024: https://www.sbc.org.pl/publication/626413

[5] Trybuna Robotnicza Dziennik Polskiej Zjednoczonej Partii Robotniczej, nr 211 (13.680) 1985 r., “SIMMEX ’85 Good Business.”, access na 7.03.2024: https://www.sbc.org.pl/publication/91440

[6] Trybuna Robotnicza Dziennik Polskiej Zjednoczonej Partii Robotniczej, nr 205 (14.276), 1987 r., “Panorama of export opportunities. Second Silesian International Fair of Mining, Energy and Metallurgy “SIMMEX ’87” in Katowice – open”, access 7.03.2024: https://www.sbc.org.pl/publication/66425

[7] Trybuna Robotnicza Dziennik Polskiej Zjednoczonej Partii Robotniczej, nr 205 (14.843), 1989 r., “Panorama of Modern Technology. Opening of the SIMMEX ’89 International Trade Fair,” access 7.03.2024: https://www.sbc.org.pl/publication/79062

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