Mining History: The Bulletin of the Peak District Mines Historical Society. Volume 20, No. 1, Autumn 2017
Mining a Globalized World - Local Impacts and
International Linkages of the British Exploitation of
the Cerro Muriano Mine (Spain, 1897-1919)
Dr. Juan M. Cano Sanchiz
Abstract: In 2015, we published a book (Cano Sanchiz 2015) on the English exploitation of the Cerro Muriano Mine
(Córdoba, Spain) during the rst two decades of the 20th century, which completed seven years of industrial archaeological
research on that site. Because that monograph and most of our papers on the topic were published in Spanish, our results
have had little impact on the international academic community. For this reason, and also to address the requests of many
colleagues, the main aim of this article is to recapitulate, summarise and present to an international (English speaking)
audience the main conclusions and advances in knowledge of our previous works on the mining and metallurgy of Cerro
Muriano during the Contemporary Age. The research revealed that the mining and metallurgical sectors grew worldwide
under a strong international interaction in that period. And this, ultimately, led to a certain globalisation process.
From 2007 to 2013, we worked on an Industrial Archaeology
study of the Cerro Muriano mine, the rst of its kind developed
at the University of Córdoba (Spain). The framework for most
of that work was a PhD dissertation (cf. Cano Sanchiz 2012a),
which was funded by the former Ministry of Education and
Science of Spain (FPU program). Its main aim was to test new
tools and techniques for surveying and interpreting the physical
remains of the evolution of technology and industrialisation,
and to characterise that material evidence as the footprint of an
early globalisation process based on the worldwide transfer of
ideas and technology.
As archaeologists, the approach to this subject was primarily
based on the analysis of the material culture of the industrial
society, although we paid due attention to other sources of data,
including written sources, oral information, old pictures, plans,
drawings and photos. This was a quite new approach, because
mining sites in Spain have traditionally been studied more from
an economic viewpoint, generally
through the use of written sources.
The present text has the main aim
of fullling the lack of English
publications on the Cerro Muriano
Mine. Most of our previous work
has been published in Spanish and so
the results of this research have been
inaccessible to many colleagues. In
order to make our work accessible
to the international audience, we
present here a summary in English
of our previous publications (Cano
Sanchiz 2012a; 2012b; 2013; 2014;
2015), updated and revised. We
encourage the readers of this text to
also consult the original publications
for further details, explanations,
illustrations and full references.
Cerro Muriano is an area of the
Cordobesian mountain range located
16 km north of the city of Córdoba
(Figure 1). It is situated over a large
eld of copper veins, which has been
exploited by the dierent peoples
that have populated Córdoba’s
mountain range Sierra Morena
through time. This has produced
much archaeological evidence,
Figure 1 (Left): Location of Cerro
Muriano in Spain (Anger & Pedall
1983, 60, Figs. 1.1 and 1.2).
ranging from the Copper Age to the 20th century (cf. Penco
From 1897 to 1919, the mines of Cerro Muriano were in
the hands of four English companies: Cordova Exploration
Co., Ltd. (CEC, 1897-1908), Cerro Muriano Mines, Ltd.
(CMM, 1903-1908), North Cero Muriano Copper Mines, Ltd.
(NCMCM, 1906-1908) and Cordoba Copper Co., Ltd. (CCC,
1908-1923). These companies developed the mines using
nine main extraction shafts: Calavera, San Lorenzo, Unión,
Excelsior, Santa Victoria, San Rafael, Levante, San Arturo
and Santa Isabel. The distance between the northernmost
(Calavera) and the southernmost (San Isabel) shafts is around
2,025 m. The separation between the eastern (Union) and
western (San Arturo) extremes is approximately 2,275 m. In
this territory, these companies generated a complete mining
settlement, composed of the above extraction points, a big,
high-tech, for its time, plant for processing and smelting the
ore, and a populated complex of various neighbourhoods with
all the infrastructure required to sustain a society (cf. Cano
Communication with the exterior took place through three
principal routes demarcating a clear north-south axis: the old
road from Córdoba to Almadén (N-432a), the Cañada Real
Soriana droveway, and the rail line between Córdoba, Belmez
and Almorchón. Along with these routes, there was a dense
network of paths and narrow gauge railways throughout
the area. It was specically the train that linked the city of
Córdoba with the coal-mining area of Belmez (in the north of
the province) that permitted the English to set up their business
in a mountainous location that was thus completely dependent
on the railway. Córdoba city was also connected by train with
the ports of Málaga, Cádiz and Seville. The Córdoba-Belmez
line eectively brought the sea closer to Cerro Muriano (cf.
Cano Sanchiz 2013).
At the end of the 19th century there was neither a consolidated
population nor any important economic activity in Cerro
Muriano. Thus, railways, mining and metallurgy brought
far-reaching changes to the territory. It can be said that such
activities were in the very origin of the contemporary Cerro
Muriano (Plate 1).
A Brief (Contemporary) History of the Mine
How British capital came to be involved in the mines of Cerro
Muriano in the late 19th century is still little known. Research
points to two key gures: W. D. Delprat and R. E. Carr, the
latter then British vice-consul in Córdoba. These gentlemen
were members of several mining companies or agencies, which
gave them access to numerous ore deposits in the province of
Córdoba, including Posadas and Hornachuelos (ENADIMSA
1986, 75; Romero Atela 1994, 243); later, they were generally
able to place these in the hands of British companies. This may
be how they became aware of the potential of Cerro Muriano.
Agreeing that it might be of interest to invest there, they nally
did so through the Cordova Exploration Co., Ltd. (Castejón
1977b; Penco 2010, 109-112).
This company was originally formed with a view to working
another deposit in the orbit of Delprat and Carr: the Mayo
Segundo lead/silver mine at Posadas. However, CEC soon
focussed its attention on Cerro Muriano, where preliminary
prospecting and development works were carried out using
money raised in NE England, in an operation which appears
to have involved the Bede Metal and Chemical Co., as well
as other companies (Skinner 1898; Penco 2010, 114). Such
changes in strategy were possible because of the nature of
these companies, which were founded to exploit any available
opportunity. Clearly, contemporary British society was
equipped not just with the necessary capital and technology,
but also with the essential entrepreneurial outlook; this was
precisely what was lacking in places like Córdoba.
When the Cerro Muriano Mines started to require greater
investment (partly because of pumping problems), CEC felt
that the time had come to relinquish them. They then passed
into the hands of a company which, unlike its predecessor,
was specically formed to mine copper in Cerro Muriano,
although this was not its only aim. The takeover of the mines
by Cerro Muriano Mines, Ltd., which heralded the arrival of
John Taylor & Sons, took place in 1903 (Skinner 1906, 820).
R. E. Carr himself was responsible for calling in the London
mining agency, just as Duncan Shaw had done years earlier
with his mines at Linares (Vernon 2009, 3).
This was the most far-reaching change to take place during
the British period: the mines passed from the ownership of an
investment group from Newcastle and the surrounding area,
into the hands of another group which was equally motley
in composition but boasted substantial London involvement.
This, moreover, marked the start of the real exploitation of the
Cerro Muriano mines.
The constant nancial diculties facing the business run in
Córdoba by John Taylor & Sons forced the division of the
mining property into two sectors, and also prompted the
creation in 1906 of a subsidiary company, the North Cerro
Muriano Copper Mines Co., Ltd., with a view to increasing
investment and revitalising the northern sector (Skinner
1906, 1.016; Revista Minera 1906, 224-225). This solution,
however, proved short-lived; by 1908, it had been found
necessary to dissolve the two operating companies (CMM
and NCMCM), and merge them into a new, more powerful,
one: the Cordoba Copper Co., Ltd. (Mining Journal 1908, 238;
Revista Minera 1908, 435; Castejón 1977b; Penco 2010, 117).
Many of the gures behind these three companies remained
the same, although over time and as circumstances changed,
certain modications were inevitable. It can be asserted, in
short, that CEC was a bridging company, entrusted with the
task of prospecting, acquiring the mining property and putting
the whole venture in the hands of English capital; by contrast,
CMM, NCMCM and CCC were, for all practical purposes,
the same company, responsible for exploiting the mine and
marketing its output.
Plate 1: Spatial distribution of the main activity centres
and communication lines in the English Cerro Muriano,
Photo: Author, 2017; Orthophoto: Catastro Córdoba 2008
Judging by the remains of ancient workings (cf. Penco 2011), the
English clearly felt that the mines aorded considerable scope.
They were presumably condent that with new technologies
for pumping, stoping, ore processing and transporting, they
could obtain wealth where earlier miners had not succeeded in
doing so. And this was in fact the case during the early years,
once the problems prompted by the reopening of the mines had
been resolved and a suitable processing plant had been built.
The latter was by no means an easy undertaking: it was started
by CMM and completed by CCC, and was constantly being
modied to meet the demands of the time. The most decisive
changes took place in the early 1910s, with the introduction of
Murex concentration technology (Mining and Scientic Press
1912, 466) and converters to produce blister copper (Skinner
1912, 681) (Plate 2). These were undoubtedly CCC’s best
years in Cerro Muriano, and 1912-1913 marked the heyday for
the English-owned mines (The Times 1914, 20). Thereafter,
things started to go awry, and the business became increasingly
unstable, eventually posing problems for John Taylor & Sons
(Penco 2010 117-131).
The mines themselves revealed their harsher features (including
generally poor mineralisation and increasingly serious
pumping problems) just when the international context became
more demanding as the First World War loomed; this led to the
nal withdrawal of English investment in 1919 (Skinner 1921,
153). Although this is not the place for a thorough examination
of the issue, the First World War had a considerable impact on
neutral Spain. A number of circumstances, among them the
rising price of raw materials, had a highly-adverse eect on
many mining businesses. British-owned mines also had to deal
with other problems: the closure of international markets, the
increasingly protectionist policies of the Spanish State, and the
fall in sterling (Fernández Calvo 1987; López-Morell 1997;
Arenas 2007, 230-233; López-Morell & Pérez de Perceval
2010, 47). The situation was, in many cases, aggravated by the
Armistice, though the new international climate did not bring
an end to copper mining elsewhere in Andalusia (cf. Carbonell
1925, 385), such as Huelva. This suggests that internal
weaknesses in Córdoba, and specically in Cerro Muriano,
must have played a major role; conditions at other mines, like
Riotinto and Tharsis (both in the province of Huelva), were
very dierent (cf. Avery 1985; Nadal 1994, 105-108; López-
Morell 1997; Castillo 2005, 383). After the Great War, even so,
European copper producers, led by the Rio Tinto Co., Ltd., fell
behind the Americans, whose operations expanded unusually
rapidly (cf. López-Morell 1997, 16-17).
It was not, therefore, the exhaustion of mineral resources
that prompted the withdrawal of English capital from Cerro
Muriano. For engineers such as Carbonell, Aranguren and
Villamil, Córdoba’s copper deposits, particularly those in the
Cerro Muriano area, still had much to oer after the British
left - yet it was generally felt that Córdoba’s copper veins
oered no guarantees in terms of quality or size (Carbonell
& López 1946, 2). The whole area was a national reserve, and
sooner or later (so they felt) private or State enterprises would
eventually work the mines again (Carbonell & López 1946,
294 and 310-311). More recently, research carried out by the
Spanish Geological and Mining Institute (I.G.M.E. 1975;
1982) concluded that exploitation of these copper deposits
would not be protable in terms of current mining parameters.
Even given all the challenges posed by that particular deposit,
under dierent circumstances mining might have continued,
focussing on the northern veins, for some years beyond 1919,
particular if the price of copper had remained high. What is
certain is that in Cerro Muriano it was the mining sector that
was doing badly, rather than the modern and fairly-ecient
smelting plant, which also proved protable when
operating with imported copper ore (Carbonell 1925,
385) (Plate 3). Even so, the English withdrawal was
justied: twenty years’ work had not yielded the
hoped-for prots, and the investment had become
somewhat a drain.
The Cerro Muriano Mine’s Local Impact
Our research sought to interpret the considerable
material remains attributable to the British presence
in Cerro Muriano (mine shafts and attendant
infrastructure, processing plant, dumps and
slagheaps, housing, etc.), focussing particularly on
the links between the various remains, and their
relationship with the surrounding territory - i.e. on
the topography of the mining area.
One important aim was to chart the changing
landscape over time. Human intervention proved to
be far-reaching, and was marked by the introduction
of new features such as structures. The local
architecture of Cerro Muriano was characterised
by the frequent use of mixed materials, as well as
the use of by-products emanating from the mining
industry, for example the crushed slag and cinders,
that were added to the concrete and other mixtures; all of it
occasionally hidden behind layers of lime. It was a matter of
taking advantage of the construction materials to hand, because
the aim was to extract the greatest economic returns possible.
The forms this architecture took were varied. The shed, for
example, featured as one of the most functional and best suited
Plate 2: General view of the dressing plant, with the Murex Magnetic
workshop on the bottom left. The smelting plant is situated on the
other side of the hill (southern face).
Photo: Author, 2017
Plate 3: Converter in use to produce blister copper in the
smelting plant of Cerro Muriano
Photo: VV.AA. 1915, photo 7
to the needs of the workplace; just as the living quarters met
the housing needs.
As it has been already said, Cerro Muriano did not exist as
a centre of population in the 19th century, something that is
demonstrated by the capital investment the English made
in building new homes to retain the required workforce.
This means that the various historical settlements scattered
throughout the district (cf. Penco 2010) would have gradually
disappeared as mining activity died out. It is dicult to specify
exactly what kind of landscape the English found, although,
based on the negligible amount of extraction documented over
the course of the nineteen hundreds (Carbonell & López 1946),
it is possible to conjecture that the rural scenery remained little
changed, with the exception of the abundant deposits left by
ancient workings. So its transformation into what we know
today is the product of the 20th century.
At the same time, our work sought to trace the human
modication of the local topography, either by extraction
(e.g. shafts, adits and pits) or by addition (dumps, slagheap)
(Plate 4). The impact on the environment was most acute
around the mine shafts and the plant, but ostensibly at least it
does not seem that the environmental damage was particularly
serious. The landscape was largely able to preserve its natural
characteristics, while vegetation grew in profusion in the
residential areas - especially in those destined for the elites. It
would be wrong, in other words, to think of Cerro Muriano in
its English era as an especially polluted place.
The areas that underwent most transformation were around
the plant and the mine shafts. The former, which comprised
the most ecologically damaged site, completely transformed
a small hill to convert it into a workplace. The latter utterly
changed the underground landscape, while reshaping the
prole of the horizon with their spoil heaps, conspicuous today
at San Arturo and Unión.
Our interest in the landscape lies in its role as the setting for
human activity. In this sense, it should be stressed that copper
mining and metallurgy created a new cultural context in Cerro
Muriano, in which work played a leading role. Contemporary
records provide considerable information on the people in
charge of the mines (their professional proles) and on their
views regarding the future of the business. It is more dicult
to obtain information on the working class: little is now known
about their working routines (records of accidents) or their
industrial demands (strikes, etc.), other than a few indistinct
pictures. The Archaeology of Industrialisation could shed
more light on the workers’ living conditions, by analysing
the material evidence still to be found in the areas where they
lived, played and worked.
Finally, an attempt was made to determine the role played
by Cerro Muriano in the particular industrialisation process
of Córdoba. It may be tentatively noted that Cerro Muriano
(a relatively modern industrial centre) had little impact on
Córdoba, partly because the mines were worked by foreign
ventures which generally had no interest in the development
of the area. That being so, perhaps the greatest contribution
of these ventures lay in the creation of a local skilled working
At the same time, close analysis of the inuence of Cerro
Muriano on the industrialisation of Córdoba has enabled a more
precise appreciation of the “failure” of industrialisation in that
city, and a fuller understanding of some of its causes. By the
late 19th century, the railway had made Córdoba the strategic
centre of Andalusia; the province’s lands oered enormous
agricultural and mining potential, while large landowners and
heirs to the old aristocracy boasted sucient wealth to embark
upon change. Yet capital was mainly in the hands of the most
conservative agricultural classes, who, rather than risking
money in innovations, preferred to immobilise their assets by
investing in more land (Castejón 1977a, 242; 1981; Castejón
et al. 1980; Sarmiento 1992; Romero Atela 1994; Fernández-
Paradas 2009). The problem was thus at least in part because
of the outlook of Cordobesian people, who failed to take
advantage of the push towards industrialisation, and who were
almost entirely concerned with ensuring self-suciency; they
were promptly supplanted by outside entrepreneurs (both
Spanish and foreign) who were quick to take full advantage of
the situation, especially in terms of both mining and railways
(Castejón et al. 1980, 242; García Verdugo 1992, 38). Generally
speaking, Cordobesian entrepreneurs were in very short
supply, as is evident in the lack of local capital investment in
the major ventures of the time. Despite a number of important
initiatives, the industrialisation of Córdoba never really took
root, and never formed larger networks. The economy of the
city and the province remained largely bound to agriculture
and, increasingly, to the services sector (Cuenca 1993).
Although it played a minor role in Córdoba’s industrialisation,
the mining and metallurgical activity carried out by the
English at Cerro Muriano represented a major turning point
in the history of the area, as we have explained above. After
the English left, the railway carried on being crucial to the
continuity of the settlement (Plate 5); not only because it would
continue to employ a certain number of workers, but also
because it facilitated its conversion into a place of housing and
leisure. Under this new conception, the latter decades of the
20th century and the beginnings of the 21st century witnessed
revitalised urban development.
Today, the markedly industrial character of Cerro Muriano
dating from the rst quarter of the 20th century has completely
gone. In spite of this, it is still possible to track down its
Plate 4a (below): Waste heap from the ore-dressing plant
Plate 4b (above): Slagheap from the smelting plant in
Cerro Muriano’s landscape.
Both photos: Author, 2017
material traces. These vestiges are in another sense evidence
of an international historical phenomenon: the economic
colonialism characteristic of industrialism in the contemporary
world. What took place in Cerro Muriano is by no means an
isolated case. In the Spanish mining boom of the last third
of the 19th century, the major players in the mining industry
included British, French, German and Belgian enterprises
(Tortella 2000), although major Spanish companies were also
present, either operating alone or backed by foreign capital.
The knowledge produced in this study of Cerro Muriano has
enabled the mines to be examined in their wider context, and
led to a fuller understanding of their true importance: the mines
themselves, though a major feature of the local scene, were of
negligible importance in terms of the large-scale international
mining ventures of the day, yet made full use of the technology
available at a time when electrication was emerging as a
key source of power, at the expense of steam. Following the
predominant trend, the processing plant was tted with the
most suitable equipment. The use of leading-edge technology,
including Murex (British) and the Allis-Chalmers smelting
plant (American), entitles the Cerro Muriano mines to be
classed among the most important mining ventures in the
Córdoba area throughout their working history, even though
they failed to obtain the required results (Carbonell 1925).
This case study of Cerro Muriano during the English period
found that it was a faithful reection of its time. Spanish mining
in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was heavily inuenced
by the involvement of foreign companies. This should not be
seen as a distinctive feature of Spain as a whole, but rather
as the result of an international situation in which mining
underwent a kind of premature globalisation. Everything
seemed to operate at the rhythm dictated by a world market
marked by the uctuations of the London Metal Exchange,
whose share prices tended to record rapid and dramatic shifts
(Sierra 1987, 668).
One of the major factors in forming this context was the
growth of demand for metals, and the resulting acceleration
of mining operations over the second half of the 19th century;
this boom dates back to the late 18th century, driven by the
industrialisation of the most developed countries. It led to the
optimisation of exploration and operating techniques, and of
metallurgical methods. The various improvements, backed
by the transport revolution made possible by the railways,
helped to increase production and reduce costs, thus paving
the way to investment in primary and low-grade deposits. As
a result, a world metal-mining network was created, spurred
by the prots to be made from the most promising discoveries
(Hiorns 1901, 314-315; Huntington & McMillan 1904, 333-
335; Rhead 1907, 176; Weed 1907, 20; Copper Development
Association 1934, 38-39; Derry & Williams 1960, 486-493;
Daumas 1968, 518; Cossons 1975, 195; Ayala-Carcedo 2001).
Britain played a crucial role in this global homogenisation of
mines, thanks to the mobility of technology, capital, engineers
and workers. In Britain, and indeed elsewhere, the same people
tended to occupy senior posts in the management of several
companies, which made it easier to establish agreements and
did much to consolidate their control of the earth’s resources.
These links were even closer in the case of shareholders, with
the same investors appearing in dierent countries. One of the
key elements supporting these tightly-bound networks was
capital, or more specically the people behind the capital.
A number of names stand out as major junction-points in
the spider’s web of the international mining industry. One of
these, directly linked to Cerro Muriano, was John Taylor &
Sons. From its oces in the City of London, this rm was
responsible for the industrial development of mining in various
parts of the world, including Cerro Muriano, which was to be
its last venture in Spain (Nadal 1983, 240). In 1907, the rm
was managing seven companies in Spain (including CMM and
NCMCM) of a total of 45 enterprises worldwide (Harvey &
Taylor 1987, 189, note 22).
The Rothschild family had interests in the leading foreign
mining companies in Spain (cf. López-Morell 2005): Société
Minière et Métallurgique de Peñarroya and Rio Tinto Co.
Though the former was mainly French and the latter British,
the two had much in common. For example, both used
the Metallgesellschaft as an international sales agent. This
consortium was a key ally in cornering the market, thanks,
among other things, to its links with Henry Merton, one of
the most inuential brokers on the London Stock Exchange
(López-Morell 1997). M. A. López-Morell (1997, 6) claims
a direct copper-related link between the Rothschilds and the
Metallgesellschaft, arguing that only by joining forces could
the two hope to compete with the American giant Amalgamated
(later, the Anaconda Copper Mining Co.), the world market
leader in the early 20th century, backed by another of the most
powerful industrialist families on earth: the Rockefellers.
Cerro Muriano’s place in this international network can be
charted not only through John Taylor & Sons, but also through
other shareholders and leading gures, as well as through the
adoption of technology. This latter evidence tells us something
about the role played by engineers in the globalisation of
mining: it was they who, in their constant movement from
place to place, enabled the same machines to be used in mines
all over the world. This may, perhaps, explain why companies
as far removed as CCC in Cerro Muriano and the Broken Hill
Proprietary Block 14 Co. in Australia should gure among the
leading customers of the British Murex Magnetic Co. Although
the model of technology adopted was largely dictated by the
nature of the mine and the minerals involved, the name of
Mr. Goodchild, an engineer for Murex Magnetic, crops up in
both cases (The Times 1909, 17; Mining Journal 1910, 693).
Equally striking is the fact that one of the most highly-regarded
specialists of the period, W. D. Delprat, should have links to
both mines, even though not directly on the board, at least of
Links of this sort can be found for many other names.
Alexander Hill, who was responsible for examining the Cerro
Muriano mining property when NCMCM planned to buy the
northern sector, appears to have been involved in dealings with
Delprat, Carr and Ferdinand in the early 1890s (M.S.P. 1908,
585). He also worked for the Rio Tinto Co. (Avery 1985, 148)
as well as setting up a technical consultancy (Alexander Hill & P
Plate 5: Cerro Muriano’s railway station, built in 1905 by
the Compañía de los Ferrocarriles Andaluces and now out
of railway use.
Photo: Author, 2017
Stewart) that operated worldwide and whose clients included
the Murex Magnetic Co. (Mining Journal 1909, 128-131). A
further example will suce to provide proof of the constant
intense trac of goods, capital, technology and people in this
globalised industrial world: Ernest R. Woakes, the engineer
who redesigned the mining strategy at Cerro Muriano in its
nal stages (Mining Magazine 1918, 216), also worked at the
mines managed by John Taylor & Sons in Linares (Vernon
In view of the foregoing, it may be argued that the British
Cerro Muriano was a standard product. In it, we can discern
many of the features typical of the international expansion
and industrialisation of mining and metallurgy operations:
the key introduction of new technology in the exploitation of
the mine, the fundamental importance of the railway (even
though in Cerro Muriano the line already existed, and was not
purpose-built to serve English interests), the eclectic nature of
the whole in terms of the technology employed (particularly
American in metallurgy, British and German in mining), and
the creation of a mining village, in the town-planning and
social senses. In short, Cerro Muriano is a good example of
economically-colonialist mining activity in the late 19th and
early 20th centuries.
The rms entering Spain after the permissive mining
legislation of 1868 found a territory rich in minerals where
there were relatively few people who knew how to exploit
them (cf. Harvey & Taylor 1987, 205; Pérez de Perceval &
López-Morell 2007, 20; Sánchez Picón 2005, 22). They
enjoyed a series of advantages that, at least in part, were
common to the British enterprises in Cerro Muriano: ample
sources of nance, easy access to the capital markets in their
respective countries, superior international contacts, access to
the most up-to-date technologies and so on (Pérez de Perceval
& López-Morell 2007, 26-27). Thanks to this and other factors,
such as the availability of cheap labour in the country, the low
rates at which they were taxed and the negligible social costs
they were required to pay, they beneted on the whole from an
excellent opportunity to make signicant prots. All of which
accounts for their rapid proliferation, although the success of
a minority should not be confused with the general situation
facing the others, since there were many initiatives that failed
(cf. Harvey & Tailor 1987).
The way in which these foreign rms, whether British or
not, related to the territories in which they operated may
be compared, making the appropriate allowances, to the
investments that the great economic powers of today make
in developing countries, in the sense that the aim of both
has always been the extraction of raw materials for export
(Hernando & Hernando 1999, 72). It is for this reason that
some authors have described the phenomenon as “economic
colonisation” and the mines as “colonial enclaves cut o
from their surroundings” (Sánchez Picón 2005, 18). These
“colonies” often took the form of centres of wealth generation
in the midst of deprived surroundings, from which they
isolated themselves, as in the case of Huelva (Harvey & Taylor
1987, 202), for example. The largest British mining venture in
the Iberian Peninsula, Rio Tinto, ts well with this view, both
at the economic and social levels (cf. Avery 1985). However,
while the colonialist character of English mining in Spain
was more notable in the south, which was less developed, in
the north the relationship between foreign companies and the
regions seems to have been characterised by an atmosphere of
mutual benet, as shown by the case of Bilbao (cf. Harvey &
In our opinion, Cerro Muriano shared with other foreign
operations this characteristic of being an “island”, because
the business was not really integrated into the territory. The
prots were sent mainly to England, as was the mining output,
until the First World War forced this to change (Mining Journal
1916, 236; 1917, 164; Carbonell 1925, 383). It may be said
that during the rst two decades of the 20th century the mine’s
copper seams were, in a manner of speaking, “colonised”, as
also reected by the appearance of certain construction styles
and features alien to the area. This type of relationship was
less obvious in the social sphere, possibly because Cerro
Muriano’s English community was relatively small (cf. Cano
As demonstrated above, this type of economic colonisation
provides signs for a specic phenomenon: the formation of a
prematurely globalised world centred on the mining industry
and other ways of industrialisation. Cerro Muriano keeps,
indeed, a clear material footprint of this context.
We would like to show our gratitude to all the colleagues
who have contributed to this research on the Cerro Muriano
Mine: D. Vaquerizo, J. A. Garriguet, J. F. Murillo, P.
Soriano, J. L. Vaquerizo, F. Penco, R. Vernon, I. Ramos, F.
J. Montero, Mª C. García, R. Hernando, A. Daza, D. Gómez,
R. White, S. Przigoda, M. Farrenkopf, M. Palmer, M. Pearce,
P. Phillipson, P. Martin, J. A. Pérez Macías, R. Castejón,
A. J. Criado, J. Sobrino, J. Dueñas, A. Brewis, J. A. Ortega,
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Dr. Juan M. Cano Sanchiz
Department of Archaeology
University of Córdoba