The city was established in 1938 and was built in just two years, to guarantee accommodation to the workers of the Sirai-Serbariu coalfield. The mines in the Sulcis area were one of the main sources of Italy's supply of energy at that time.
The basin, which was active between 1937 and 1964, had nine wells and one hundred kilometres of tunnels. Miners were recruited from all over Italy, to extract the coal, and there were immediately 16 thousand residing in Carbonia, while the peak was in 1949 with 48 thousand residents and 60 thousand people living there.
Today, after its recovery, Serbariu is the location of the Coal Museum, a perfect reproduction of the world of mining.