Agua Amarga - Cargadero de Mineral

Agua Amarga - Cargadero de mineral

On the headland 2km to the north of Agua Amarga, you can see the site of the cargadero de mineral (mineral ship loader), the terminus of a mine railway that ran from Lucainena de las Torres.

The line ran 36km over mountainous terrain, through tunnels and across bridges, from the iron ore mines, carrying passengers as well as freight. Once arrived in Agua Amarga, the ore was transferred from the railway carriages down to an iron jetty, and thence onto ships.

Compañia Minera de Sierra Alhamilla, which opened the line in 1896, chose Agua Amarga as the best location to load ships, due to its sheltered bay. The mine operated successfully during its first decades, but suffered from lack of sales after the First World War. Problems reoccurred in 1931 when exports were affected by political instability in Spain. During the Spanish Civil War (1936 - 1939) the mine was taken over by workers, but production ceased. After the war the minere opened, but in 1942 the last steamship Bartolo was loaded at Agua Amarga, signalling the closing of the mine. Shortly afterwards, the railway tracks and mine installations were dismantled and taken away.

Fans of industrial architecture will enjoy exploring the site with its ruined buildings and track beds - the latter lead down a steep-sided ravine to the ship-loading cantilever arm. The railway lines also ran along the higher part of the headland as an overflow storage location. Hopefully the site will be refurbished one day as a tourist museum.  

You can also see the old coal store on the Agua Amarga beach at the foot of the headland. Mine supplies were landed by ship and lifted up to the railway on the headland using a static engine that pulled small wagons up the very steep rampusing cables.