From the seventeenth century on, Selmecbánya (now Banská Štiavnica) and its vicinity (in old Northern Hungary) was a significant mining and metal processing centre. Water was and is important in mining, in that it had to be brought to the surface where it was a godsend, used for operating equipment. Too much or too little water caused equally large problems. To get around these, the decision was made to build a water management system in the early 1700s, involving the construction of a huge water reservoir. Sámuel Mikoviny had a significant role in the final workings of this grandiose project. In its time this construction was unique, it included 16 ponds with 7 million cubic meters of water. A system of almost 130 km of drains was used for nearly 200 years afterwards.
The institute for the training of miners and foundrymen was established in 1735, the first of its kind anywhere. In 1770 it was upgraded to a tertiary institution.
The first international scientific congress on mining was held near Selmecbánya in September 1786. Here was established the world's first international technological and scientific society (Societat der Bergbaukunde).

The city and the water management system is a significant monument and has been a World Heritage site since 1993.