Cuevas del Almanzora - Sierra Almagrera Mining District

Sierra Almagrera Mining District

Sierra Almagrera in southwest Spain is a small, four-kilometre wide mountain range running parallel to the coast for a distance of 12 kilometres with a maximum altitude of under 400 metres in the municipalities of Cuevas del Almanzora and Pulpi. It is known for its rich deposits of silver and lead.

These deposits have been mined since the Neolithic (3500 BC), the area in the vicinity of the Almanzora River successively hosting Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines and Muslims. Following a long barren period lasting several centuries, the chance finding of a vein of argentiferous lead at Barranco Jaroso in 1839 sparked the "Silver fever" which lasted until the end of the 19th century until a period of decline which ultimately led to the closure of most of the mining sites during the first decades of the 20th century.

Almeria mining today is characterised by small disjointed private mining undertakings. It is underground mining using deep shafts and large galleries which require constant and expensive drainage operations. Technical achievements were implemented here such as the replacement in 1824 of the "Castilian furnace" system by the more modern English furnaces (where the Perdigones Tower still stands), the installation of a steam engine for mining purposes (1827) at the Fundicion de Plomo de San Andresen Adra (lead foundry) and the drainage system installed at the Encarnacion shaft of the Sierra Almagrera mines. We would also draw attention to the archaeological remains at the Fundicion de Alcora (Alcora foundry in Canjayar) composed of the furnaces, the hermitage and warehouses; the battery of sulphur furnaces at the Dos Hemanas mine in Las Balsas (Gador) and the baking kilns and mines at Pilar de bravia. Special mention must also be made of the permanently installed steam engine for ore extraction at Barranco del Chaparral in Sierra Almagrera. It is the oldest remaining one in Spain (1873) forming part of an ensemble comprised of a main shaft, wooden extraction winch with two wheels and a metal structure containing a double acting steam engine from Reading Iron Works Limited installed by P. Colson, lngenieur Constructeurs Angleterre.

There are a great many mining town remains throughout all of south-east Almeria. Worthy of note are the towns of El Jaroso, El Arteal and the health services building for workers at Cuevas de Almanzora. Mining activity was supported by an extensive rail network the most important stretches of which were Herrerias-Villaricos and ~lmendricos-Aguilas and the associated loading stations of Villaricos and Agua Amarga. Although distant from Sierra Almagrera, also meriting mention is the Alquife ore loading station at Almeria which is one of the best examples of engineering architecture to be found in all of Europe.

The mines amongst others in Andalucia and Spain are classified as Mining Heritage. Since 2007 have been on the UNESCO tentative list of  World Heritage sites. The above text description is from that submission. 

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