(Mines of Sulcis)
History of the mines
The exploitation of manganese mines of the island of San Pietro date back to a long time ago. The mines are situated in the western part of the island. The mineral was used in the manufacture of steel and varnishes.
The most of this mineral was found near Capo Rosso and Capo Becco, inside the so named ochre of manganese (an ochre containing manganese oxide).
Mr. Pietro Chareyre was the first who exploited the mines. On october 20 1873, he was granted with the claim and began the mining workings in the mineralized outcrops.
In 1877 the mine of Capo Becco was handed on Edmondo Piot, who was the owner of the near mine of Capo Rosso. He built two kilns to process the mineral, but they soon proved unfit. Mr Piot was forced to send the no processed mineral in France, so the shipping's costs considerably increased. In 1894, Edmondo Piot went bankrupt and his claims were handed on Alberto Chapelle.
Years after the claims were handed on the Bellegrandi family. During these years the mines grew up and a little village was built near the mining yards. In 1918 a simple plant for processing the ochre was constructed in a place named Macchione.
In 1921 the Bellegrandi family handed over the claims and the most of the fields of the mines of Capo Becco and Capo Rosso to the Compagnia Mineraria di Capo Rosso (Mining Company of Capo Rosso), established in Rome. This company modernized the plant of Macchione, and planned to construct an industrial paint factory, that was never accomplished.
In 1932-35 the German Otto Kassel took the place of the Italian company. Under the new owner the mines' production increased, and the old yards of Millelire and Ernesto was reopened.
In 1937, the mines handed on to the state company named Azienda Minerali Metallici Italiani (AMMI = Italian Metallic Minerals Company), but the company was little interested on the mines.
In 1950 the Kassel company bought out the mines and reopened the yards sheer above the sea, but only two years after handed over the claims to an employee, Eraldo Uccheddu. Mr. Uccheddu kept on the workings with a family management until 1977, when the mines were definitively closed.
How to reach the mine of Capo Becco
From Carloforte flank the salterns until an intersection: here turn right toward Capo Sandalo. After few kilometers, you will see on the left the remains of the plants sited in the area named Macchione, then you will arrive in the area named Le Tanche. Here you have to turn left in a dirty way. Go along the dirty way for about one kilometer and half. Here you will find a barrier (a chain), so you have to walk for about 300 meters to reach the village and the mining yards.
The yards and the village of the mine of Capo Becco
The village is a private property, and it is inhabited mainly during the summer. It opens over the sheer cliff. On the right there are the imposing diggings and the multicolors layers of the ochre of manganese. The layers were dynamited, then the rich mineral were picked up, the poor one rejected. A cableway carried the mineral down to the silos near a docking. From here it was shipped to Carloforte, and hence to Marseille.
Some houses of the village have been renovated, unfortunately completely without the will to preserve memory of its mining past.
Walking along the yards one can see the remains of the cableway, and below the ruins of the silos. There are also many tunnels, but all of them are closed or dangerous to be visited.
The mine of Punta Nera
At Punta Nera one can see the remains of the manganese mine with the same name ("Pescetti" permission). The mine is simple to be reached. From Carloforte go on toward sud and follow the signs indicating Le Colonne. After some 5 Kms you will meet on the left an intersection leading to the Punta Nera beach. You can simply find the plants because of the shaft tower standing unmistakable out.
The remains of the plants are very little: a building that probably housed the engines, another marked by arches, and the tower.
Rivista del Servizio Minerario, dal 1882 al 1985.
GARBARINO C., LIRER L., MACCIONI L., SALVADORI I. "Isola di San Pietro, Carloforte" - Edizioni della Torre, 1990.
PINTUS ENRICO (Bariosarda Spa) "Il giacimento ocraceo-manganesifero di Capo Becco-Capo Rosso" - Relazione geominerarie e ricerche preliminari di primo accertamento, Iglesias, 1980.
CAVINATO ANTONIO "Ocre e Dispri di Capo Rosso" - Estratto da Rend. Ass. Min. Sarda, n. 6, 1956.
FOIS SALVATORE "Genesi del giacimento di ocre di Carloforte" - Estratto da Sardegna Nuova - Novembre 1949.
Carta Geologica della Sardegna 1:200.000, 1997.
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