is already plenty of books and sites describing in detail history,
glory and sufferings about mining activity in the valleys.
is probably amongst the toughest jobs in the world. And it was more in
the past. Nevertheless it was also a fortune for the area. While in
the surrounding valleys people were emigrating looking for a better
life abroad, here they could find a stable employment and sure salary
in the mines. So, in a way, mining preserved culture and history form
dispersing in the world.
one big talc mine is still active run by Riotinto. One single mine.
One gallery which alone produces yearly more talc that some decades
ago was produced in dozens of galleries with hundreds of workers.
effects of the mining activities on the daily life of people have
sharply reduced but they are still very visible in the older people.
The talc of this area, was
known already in the 19th
century. At the very beginning
it was collected at about 2000 m elevation where it naturally appeared
on the surface. Over some time it was necessary to start following
the mineral dyke underground.
This sketch from Ercole
Ridoni shows how the minerals lie underground.
mes = micascists; C = limestone; t = talc; eq = limestone-quartz; gn =
graphitic gneiss; g = graphite
At the beginning the mines were very primitive
and drifitng was done dough without any proper mining technology. The main mines
company was called " Anglo Italian Talc and Plumbago Mines Company" whilts
the other were normally individuals or families digging the
The situation worsened
over time and at the beginning of the 20th
issue was well known. Ercole Ridoni, a scientist working in the local
main mining company in the 1920s comments like follows.The
situation is very
dangerous. Legally, due to the Sardinian law of 1859, talc was a
to quarry legislation which means that the owner of the ground owns the
underground. So anybody drifts tunnels without proper organization aiming
reach first the mineral bank, as the law reserves the right to exploit
to the first that reaches it. Different galleries are build closed one
another. Rock fall risks were very high.
should be important to move talc under the laws of the mining
minerals which would lead to more legal constraints, more
productivity and less risks.
This is what has
happened with the law of July 29, 1927 which declared all the
property of the state. Which in turn means that proper authorization
ad fees are to be paid. This accelerated the aggregation process which
already going on and over few more years, dozens of small mines
progressively become one single company. The “Talco e Grafite Val
one run the business up to the 1990s when Riotinto took over.
two centuries more than 100 talc galleries were excavated with
various lengths and different success.
in a tunnel
reservoir. It was common in the big mining strucures to make
underground lakes to capture water and keep it available for the works.
The tunnel splits in two.