jueves, 26 de mayo de 2011


Abrimos una nueva seccion con articulos en inglés y francés. Un guiño logico, teniendo en cuenta la cantidad de turistas, viajeros y deportistas que visitan cada año nuestro pais.


Spain has one of the most outstanding mining history and potential geological and mining tourism. Two decades ago there were very few visiting mines. Geological and mining tourism was something closed scientists and mineral collectors. Nowadays there is a growing interest in geology, minerals and mining heritage. We consider that the support of the European Community and local authorities to some of these projects has influenced on the former. At this moment there are more than thirty mines which can be visited by the public. Catalonia Community is the one with more mining tourist centers and current projects.

Abandoned mine: Nava de Riofrio, not far from the legendary Valle de Alcudia

In this paper, we will review the mining museums that currently exist in Spain and those that are in process or rehabilitation project. They are not subject to this investigation mining museums, unless they include in it a mine.

Orche (2004), divides the case studies of miners parks in 6 groups:

A. Dummy mines, whicha re mines built, pretending to be real. Mines are known as image.
B.-  Rehabilitated mine without mining activity
C. Inactive mines and non rehabilitated.
D. Mines with mining activity that interacts with the park
E. Mines with mining activity that no interacts with the park
F. Mines or parts of abandoned mines that are part of a more active mining.

We will focus on this work in categories A and B, just underground ones
Figure: Example of rehabilitated mine: Adit of one of the Mina Puras de Villafranca (Belorado, Burgos)

The beginnings of mining tourism in Spain

Since the 80’s, begins to emerge in Spain, timidly an interest in industrial heritage, and within it, the mining. In very few cases sucha as Riotinto mines, the least, has protected the mining heritage since ancient times. There are mines and municipalities that always have tried to preserve their heritage, and thanks to them has lasted an enormous legacy. This is the example of the mines of Almaden, which have retained their oldest heritage during times of feverish activity, or the fabulous state of preservation of the cave Soplao within a mine in operation, or the recovery and cataloging Roman vestiges Sotiel mine and Rio Tinto from its inception, and many more cases. Unfortunately, we can not say that this was the general tone.
A legendary region which is the valley of Alcudia has almost all their heritage destroyed, except for a few mines. In recent years it has done a very interesting extension and enhancement of the area but the loss of the last decades has been enormous. During construction of two tunnels and viaduct of the high speed railway, the Horcajo mine (the most important in Alcudia Valley) missed the important legacy.
In the late eighties and early nineties there are numerous associations that indirectly assist in the preservation and enhancement of the mining heritage. At the beginbing there were amateur collectors of minerals and geology enthusiasts which claim about valuable mine sites and some aspects of possible restoration. The first museums appear in the 90’s, such as Riotinto, in 1992. The Entrego MUMI Museum of Asturias, opened in 1994. Although this article only mentioned those actions geared toward the underground touristic mines, we must not forget that in Spain, for a time, there are numerous tours of mining areas, green routes are perhaps the most famous, old railway routes (in most miners) running through abandoned mines and facilities. Other examples of mining tourism operations are open or mixed today preserved as parks, two of the most prominent examples Médulas (León) or Cabárceno (Cantabria).

Current status of mining museum in Spain
The mining tourism is primarily a economic and social output in those regions in which the closure of mining activity has caused the decline. Perhaps the clearest example can be found in the Teruel coal mines in the areas of “Escucha” and Andorra. In the latter, the initiative to continue with mining through tourism and outreach, has come from a group of volunteers, former mine workers, who have persuaded the local and regional authorities to carry out rehabilitation Shaft inl the San Juan area. There is currently an area of several hectares of green areas, mining machinery park, museum, audio-visual room and headgear, and expected shortly conducting a gallery that spans the deep pit. On the other hand, as Escucha, projects are directed from the regional or even national level with large funds that allow a large-scale renovations come into play leading companies in the world of mining.

Below is a table showing the main tourist mines and projects:
As shown in the table, tourist mines are located in eleven communities and that Catalonia, the region with a greater number of them. In Catalonia there is a variety of this mine museums, with coal mines (Cercs and Surroca), salt (Cardona), metals (Bellmunt, Vall d'Aran, in torrents and Peramea), petroleum underground (Riutort) mines and Neolithic (Gava).

Figure: Exterior of the silver lead mines rehabilitated Bellmunt del Priorat (Tarragona)

One of the more traditional mining material in Spain, coal, also has many projects that try to show visitors the hardness and the difficulty of extracting this fossil fuel. In Escucha, Teruel, is the only real mine that can visited. Nearby, in Andorra is developing a project in San Juan Shaft. Currently you can see the machinery park, a museum of mining and mine a small image. In the future is to create a camping area, a gallery that spans the pool and a train used by the county.
One of the most known and most number of visitors (about 100,000 per year) is the Museum of Mining (MUMI) in Entrego (Asturias). Is currently undertaking a gallery extension that will connect with San Vicente shaft. Further north on the coast is in the process of rehabilitation Arnao mine, one of the most legendary sahsfts and mines in coal mining. The most unique is that the mine is fully extended under the sea level. The area will also include an interpretation center next to the shaft.
Also in the process are the mines in Laviana council. Finally, in Asturias can be visited freely, by the lakes of Covadonga, Buferrera mines, manganese old workings where you can go to several galleries and visit the old fronts of exploitation. A series of interpretive signs help visitors to understand the mining activity took place there.
In Puertollano (Ciudad Real) since 2006 we can visit the Mining Museum, which has two floors devoted to both the geological formation of the region and the origins of coal mining activity. In the basement there is a mine image that is accessed by a lift down to simulate a mine shaft. In Castilla y Leon in Barruelo of Santullán (Palencia) has built a highly realistic image mine where we can explore various "workshops mining", in Fabero (León), is in project an image - like mine.
We mention the Puras de Villafranca manganese mines (Belorado, Burgos), where the visitor can see three rehabilitated galleries. There it can be followed the vein of ore mining and the various enhancements. Along with the galleries serve several buildings recovered workshops to learn the craft mining. In the province of Salamanca, is to visit the tungsten and tin mines of "Salamanca" in the municipality of Navasfrías, famous place for gold panners.
In northern Spain, in addition to those mines in Asturias, there are mine reclamation projects for tourism in Galicia (Vila de Cruces, Pontevedra) and Carranza (Vizcaya). Also in the Basque Country, you can visit the mines Arditurri in Guipúzcoa. In Cantabria, is one of the most popular domestic routes in Spain, the Cave of the Soplao mines in Florida where access to the cave is by a larger mining gallery. The set of existing mining galleries in the area is several tens of kilometres, in good condition.
In Castilla La Mancha, the most prominent project is undoubtedly the mercury mines of Almaden. The mining park has several museums with different themes related to mining activity (geology, mining, mining hospital, etc.).. In addition, tourism has recovered a gallery located at 50 meters depth, which is accessed by the shaft of San Teodoro and leads to the famous eighteenth century underground shafts known as barite de San Carlos. The exit to the outside of the mine is done by train.
Figure: Almaden mine train

In Cueva del Hierro (Cuenca) we can visit the galleries of an iron mine. In the same province, there are many reclamation projects in roman mining of gypsum ("lapis specularis"), used for windows in the roman empire. In Torrejoncillo the King is located one of the most outstanding gypsum mines, “La Mora Encantada” and perhaps the most advanced project.

Figure: gypsum roman mine in Torrejoncillo del Rey (Cuenca), in rehabilitation and study. (Photo courtesy J. C. Guisado)

In Guadalajara, in the municipality of Hiendelaencina, are intended to restore the old mining works, dedicated to the extraction of silver. Also for the production of this metal mines were Cuesta de la Plata in Bustarviejo (Madrid), in the process of rehabilitation. In the heart of the capital of Spain, you can visit a mine image, Marcelo mine Jorissen, School of Mines.
One of the regions which works the most today for geological and mining tourism is Extremadura. In addition to a number of points of geological interest and small mine workings rehabilitated both Cáceres and Badajoz, there are currently four projects of considerable magnitude. This is Santa Marta, Cerro Burguillos Azuaga and in the province of Badajoz and the phosphate mines of Achievement (Cáceres). Since 1998 is open to the public the mining complex in Fuente del Arco - La Jayona mine (Badajoz). In Aliseda (Cáceres) can visit the Mina Pastora in the highlands of “Sierra del Aljibe”.

In Andalusia is one of the pioneering projects in Spain, located in Rio Tinto (Huelva). The history of the mine, with more than 5000 years old is embodied in the mining museum. It can also be a train ride and a visit to a mine. Another area is undoubtedly legendary lead mining Jaén. In Linares, driven by the collective Arrayanes Project being carried out numerous initiatives aimed at the recovery of industrial and mining heritage. Mine Lords in the project, will be an underground tour where visitors can appreciate the feeling of working the underworld.

There are in Spain at this moment are over thirty mines which can visited by common tourists., and a similar number of projects are in the process of rehabilitation. The mining tourism is today an alternative in rural tourism. From small towns to work and projects carried out practically modest volunteers to regions that recover their mines with European funds, a good part of the Spanish provinces have tourism or mining projects.

Figure: mining works in the adit and gllery access to the Cave of the Soplao - Minas de La Florida (Courtesy F. Unzué)

No doubt soon will open new paths within the mines of Spain, which will reveal even better the mining legacy of history and human effort have left us.

Figure: Combined research: mining heritage and high-level caving, to the knowledge of the area of the Altaiz mines in Picos de Europa, Cantabria. International speleological expedition and camp in the mines of “Las Gramas” (2010).

Luis Jordá

PhD Mining engineer and caver

ljbordehore@gmail.com Figure: Adit of the silver mine Bustarviejo, Madrid

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