Elba | Going underground in the Ginevro mine

The Island of a Thousand Fires

The origins of extracting and working iron on the island of Elba (“Blue mineral” for the Egyptians, “sideros” for the Greek) goes back to the mists of time. The ores in Elba are among the oldest iron deposits in the world. Infact since the dawning of history, the position of the island has always been strategic both because of the sea trade control and because of its inexhaustible mineral resources that have always attracted the great Mediterranean powers.

Under Etruscan rule, Elba was called “The Island of a thousand Fires” thanks to the pureness of its minerals, and it was in this period that the island’s development reached its peak, a peak that was to continue until the end of the 1st century BC.

 

Calamita Mineral Park

From 1950 onwards, the economical boom and the arrival of tourism, competition, strikes and negotiations that failed cause the mines in Elba to close down, and in 1981 the one mine still open was closed down for good: the Ginevro Mine.

Today, thanks to the Island of Elba Mineral Park and the Calamita Mineral Park, the true importance and worthy conservation both of the mineral sites and of the historical and cultural past of Elba are maintained in museums, study laboratories and along guided tours; only 30 years ago this very island was the Island of Iron and Fire.

 

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Lunch break

 

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Mineral deposits

 

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Collapsed roof turns into a light shaft

 

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Rio Marina mine

 

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Old pier for transporting iron at the port of Rio Marina

 

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More info

www.miniereisoladelba.it – Visit Calamita | Ginevro mine (only in Italian)

www.infoelba.com/island-of-elba/territory-history/geology-of-elba – Geology of Elba

www.infoelba.com/island-of-elba/territory-history/history-of-elba/mines – Mines on Elba

www.infoelba.com/island-of-elba/territory-history/history-of-elba/mines/rio-marina-iron-capital – Rio Marina, Elba’s the iron capital

 The Elba Island: an intriguing geological puzzle in the Northern Tyrrhenian Sea (pdf)