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Mining Areas of Southern Spain - Seville to Linares Suggested places to visit. Notes for delegates to the 11th International Mining History Congress

Mining Areas of Southern Spain - Seville to Linares
Suggested places to visit.
Notes for delegates to the 11th International Mining History Congress
By R. W. Vernon
Delegates to the IMHC may wish to visit other mines sites in southern Spain. These notes are
a rough guide to some of the more important and interesting mine sites that can be found in
Southern Spain, in Andalucía and adjacent areas, that are accessible from Seville and Linares
and on journeys between the two places. For up to date information consult the websites or
contact museums directly.
A good map is always worth having so the web link below will give access to detailed
maps of Spain, and up to date satellite imagery to plan a route.
Southern Spain is rich in minerals, particularly the autonomous region of Andalucía. The
western province Huelva is renowned for its pyrite mines that include Rio Tinto, La Zarza,
Tharsis and Aznalcóllor. About four kilometres to the north-west of Seville a new open-pit
copper mine has recently been established - Las Cruces.
The area between Seville and Córdoba has a number of small mines, the most
important are the lead mines in the hills north of Posadas (la Plata) and the Cerro Muriano
copper deposit. There is also a small coalfield at Villanueva del Rio y Minas. Between
Cordoba and Linares it is possible to make a northern detour at Montoro to visit the lead
mines at Horcajo.
If a northern route is taken from Sevilla visit la Jayona iron mine, which is now open
as a show mine. It is not possible to visit the famous Guadalcanal silver mines as they are on
a private estate. Travelling east the area between Berlanga and Azuaga the area is riddled
with small lead and copper mines. To the east, the town of Peñarroya– Pueblonueva is on a
coalfield (headframes), and there are the prominent remains of the Peñarroya smelt-works.
Northeast there are extensive lead mines south of Alcaracejos and Pozoblanco.
Taking a northern route from Alcaracejos it is possible to visit the Almadén mercury
mines and the Puertollano coalfield, then travel east to pick up the main road between
Madrid and Bailen - for Linares.
Main locations mentioned in text.
The Pyrite belt - Huelva and Seville.
A Rio Tinto - Mining remains are scattered in and around Rio Tinto town. Places to visit
include the mining museum (originally the mine hospital) - exhibits include railway
carriages, Roman mining, and mining artefacts; Bella Vista - the English housing, and
a ride on the railway down the Rio Tinto valley. The rail journey passes through areas
of slag and industrial decay as well a collection of locomotives, including the
Garrets used to haul the ore trains to the coast. Contact Museum for opening times, etc.
See: for information on the largest open-pit in Europe
Contact the museum for all information.
B La Zarza
Originally operated by the Tharsis Company of Glasgow, the site still retains several
interesting head frames around, and close to, the open pit.
One surviving head frame
(originally there were two)
Largest surviving head frame in the
Flooded Open pit
Footpath all the way
around the open pit
La Zarza
C Tharsis. Worked by the Tharsis Company of Glasgow. Large open-pit. Company
offices and workshops.
Open pit
Mine buildings etc
D Huelva - two loading jetties. The Rio Tinto pier on the east side of the River Odiel, the
Tharsis pier on the west side at Corrales. Archaeological museum in the town with
Roman mining artefacts.
E Minas del Castillo de las Guardas. Example of a mine site turned into a theme park
with zoo! It is possible to still see the remains of the ore processing mill.
F Aznalcóllar . Two large flooded open pits on the east side of the town. A few mine
structures remain. It was the tailing dams of this mine that burst a few years ago and
threatened to contaminate the Doñana National Park to the south.
G Las Cruces mine is a new open-pit mine on the north west side of Seville. It is a
concealed deposit under Miocene clays that originally showed up as a gravity anomaly
It was subsequently evaluated by borehole. It is unlikely that access can be gained to
this site, but do ask. If you do manage to obtain a guided tour you will be required to
show your passport to security. See:-
H Italica. Not mining - the Roman city of Italica is worth a visit.
There are many other mines within the pyrite belt and just a drive around the area will
present features of mining interest. The San Telmo deposits are about the most northerly
mine works. That site has a large flooded open-pit with a modern head-frame to the side.
Mineral exploration is still conducted in the area, so it is always possible to see a
working drilling rig in your travels around the pyrite belt, which extends across the border
into Portugal, where the São Domingos mine is also worth a visit.
Rio Tinto
Marshalling yards covered in later waste Garrett Locomotive
Bella Vista Atalaya open pit
La Zarza
Open pit
Head frame on eastern shaft
Area between Seville and Córdoba—and to the north
A Villanueva del Rio y Minas - Small coal basin with one obvious colliery - Unusual
castle like headframe on the upcast shaft. Statue of miner in a small memorial garden.
B La Jayona - an iron ore mine opened as a show mine. See
C Berlanga—an interesting brick built ‘Cornish’
type engine house stands out in the
landscape northwest of the town.
Several British companies worked copper mining
concessions in this area.
Engine House
Villanueva del Rio y Minas (A)
Berlanga (C)
Azuaga (D)
Pozo Espiel (F)
Peñarroya smelt works (E)
Cerro Muriano - foundations of ore-processing mill. (G)
Mine sites north and west of Córdoba
D Azuaga - There are various lead mines scattered around the area. On the south side of
the town, there is a small mining park with head-frame. Last time it was visited, it was
in a poor state of repair. The concession just beneath, and west of the castle ruins, was
the last to be worked by the Linares Lead Mining Company.
E Peñarroya-Pueblonueva lies on the Belmez coalfield and was the location for the
headquarters of the Peñarroya Company (Societe Miniere et Metallurgique de
Peñarroya). Peñarroya operated predominantly lead mines throughout western Europe
and north Africa. They also operated coalmines to support their vast lead smelting
empire. The town has many significant structures associated with the company. Their
offices (1 on plan) are now a retirement home. The large workshops (2) house
exhibits. West of the workshops is a vast complex associated with the smeltworks t h a t
also includes an electricity generating station, chemical works and brickworks (3
edged in red).
There are several restaurants around the town square. (4)
F Espiel. This is the southern end of the Belmez Coalfield. There are several headframes
on coalmines to the northwest of the town.
G Cerro Muriano - A succession of companies managed by John Taylor and Sons worked
the Cerro Muriano copper mines. The last was the Cordoba Copper Company who
sold the mines in 1919 to a Spanish Company. There are substantial remains of their
The Romans worked the deposits and there are various publications about the
archaeology. Remnants of Roman workings are evident in the valley at (1). The
Cordoba Copper Company (CCC) found Roman working down to depths of 200m.
The site is dominated by the foundations of the CCC mill (2) and smelt works (3)
with the adjacent slag tip (4). There is the ruins of an engine house that once housed a
Hathorn Davey (Leeds, England) vertical compound pumping engine on San Rafael
shaft (5) (On private land). It is possible to walk along a terrace garden on the north
side of the valley to take in the vista of the mill. The iron gate (6) is unlocked—the
foundations of the Eastern Shaft winding house are at the eastern end of the garden.
There is a small mining museum (mainly Roman artefacts) (7) located in the old Civil
Guard office—The museum opening times are sporadic and their website no longer
functions.. Contact the museum for opening times.—details here
There are further dressing floor centred around the deep adit in the valley bottom. (8).
There is a bar and restaurant by the road island at the southern end of the town (9).
Cerro Muriano
H La Plata. There are numerous small mines in the area north of Posadas. Most are on
private estates. One can be seen from the main road at La Plata.
NB. Some of the roads outlines in this area, although usually alright to drive on, may
be un-metalled. Journeys may take longer than anticipated. In the central National
Park area, there are no settlements of note, and no water, food or car fuel available.
Three other sites worth considering a visit.
I Medina Azahara — Moorish city now an archaeological site—it was once the capital
of El Andaluz. — 2 to 3 hours needed.
J Moorish Castle at Almodovar del Rio
K Roman underground quarries in the grounds of a restaurant.
gallery of photos -
The website gives a good overview of most of
the attractions in Cordoba, like the Mezquita, for example.
From Cordoba head east on the motorway and just north of Bailén turn off onto the south
motorway for Granada and Jaén. Then get off at the first junction south signposted Linares.
La Plata (H)
Alcaracejos, Almaden, Almadenejos, Puertollano and Horcajo
B. Large Winding
C. Beam Engine
A. Extensive remains
near disused railway
Northern detour to Almadén
Alcaracejos area
To Penarroya
Alcaracejos area— south
Pumping engine house (C)
Soldado mine
Winding House (B)
Chimney and
remains of engine
house? (A)
Almaden - A visit to the world-heritage site of the Almaden mercury mine is recommended.
The town is located on a limestone ridge. The mining museum and mine tour (1) is
located at the western end of the town. There is a miners statue (2) opposite the
bullring (now a hotel). There is also a miners hospital (3).
More information can be found on the website:
Various publications can be downloaded at:
A few miles east of Almadén lies the walled mercury mining village of Almadenejos. There
are significant gateways (1) on the east and west entrance to the town. The mines are located
just to the west (2), with several interesting structures including a walled / roofed horse
whim circle (Baritel de San Carlos) (3). The actual area where the cinnabar retorts were once
located is now used as an enclosure for sheep and goats (4). The rectangular foundations for
the retorts can clearly be seen on the aerial photograph. The circular feature to the west is a
small bullring.
Almadén—Cinnabar roasting furnace
and retorts
Almadén—miners hospital
Almadenejos –western gateway (1)
Almadenejos - Baritel (3)
Puertollano. Coal is still mined by openpit on the west side of the town. At the northern
entrance to the town there is a large head-frame situated on a road island. On the south side
of the town there is a new museum dedicated to the coal mining history of the area. For
hours of opening it is advisable to contact the museum directly.
Contact: Tel.: +34 926 44 02 75 Email:
Horcajo - Take the N420 from Puertollano and head south towards Montoro. The road
crosses the Alcudia valley where there are scattered lead mines. Continue south and Minas
de Horcajo is signposted - take the un-metalled track heading west for about four kilometres.
After passing under an old railway bridge take the next turning on the left and follow the
track onto the disused railway—now a track. Follow the track south - it continued through a
disused railway tunnel for about 1 kilometre. The tunnel is lit and has traffic lights at each
end. At the southern end of the tunnel is Horcajo mine—last worked by the Peñarroya
Company. Several headframes and the shell of a church and offices. The main AVE railway
line (Seville—Madrid) passes through the site at a lower level.
Go back to main N420 road and continue south to Montoro. Take motorway going east.
Puertollano Horcajo
NB - If unsure about access, please do not trespass. Law functions in a different way to
the UK. Do not enter mine workings. Mines rescue is virtually non-existent.
These notes are meant as a general guide to mining in southern Spain. Care should be
taken in all Spanish mining areas, as many shafts are unprotected, sometimes covered by
vegetation, and may be difficult to see in the bright sun-light.
The organisers of IMHC2016 are responsible solely for activities within the formal
IMHC programme of events as detailed on the website:
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