The Island of Elba has supplied iron minerals since the protohistoric era and the extraction and processing of this metal was its main economic factor until the 1980s. The Ginevro tunnel is the only underground tunnel on the Island of Elba and represents the largest Magnetite deposit in Europe. Building a straight tunnel is quite complicated, immagine a sloped one.
The gallery of the Ginevro, the most recent history of the Capoliveri mines
The Ginevro belongs to the most recent history of the Capoliveri mines. Around the early 1900s, some excavations carried out on site confirmed the presence of precious Magnetite lenses, which is the mineral that contains the highest percentage of iron, therefore the most requested in the steel industry. Although the discovery of this deposit dates back to the early years of the twentieth century, the works only began in the thirties, but the extraordinary thing is that the real treasure was found in the bowels of the place, much deeper than sea level.
The descendery of the Ginevro mine in Capoliveri from +6 reaches -54 meters below sea level, and if you think that the miners dug it all manually, with their feet immersed in water and the mines that ignited with so much effort, you will understand why the islanders care a lot about their history.In the beginning it worked like this: after the mine exploded, the “coffe” (baskets) were filled with mineral and once raised emptied onto a wagon (which was often higher than the miner’s head) which would later reach the Vallone, the largest and oldest shipyard on the Island of Elba.
The mine of Ginevro, strategic reserve of Italy
Then comes the German engineering and the construction of a very modern well for the extraction castle is started, thanks to which an altitude of -91 meters below sea level is reached. In the seventies the intensive exploitation of Magnetite begins, up to one hundred tons of mineral per hour… do you realize that? Yet this dream lasts just ten years, and certainly not because the raw material was exhausted.
In 1981 the hard work of the mine gave way to the more rewarding and less tiring tourist sector, the Ginevro and the entire mining area closed to never reopen, or at least so it is hoped since it remained a “strategic” national reserve. All the effort, all the treasure it still holds is put aside: almost thirty years of silence.
But the inhabitants of Capoliveri are not willing to let this important story fall from memory and this is how, thanks to the intervention of some institutions, the mines open their doors to all those who wish to visit them.The Museum of the Old Workshop is established with important films and interviews that testify to the hard life inside the mines and where it is possible to admire the tools used, the machinery and the objects of daily life of the miners of Capoliveri. But the most exciting thing is that even the Ginevro underground tunnel could be opened: you go underground through some impervious steps of the descendery and then continue with only the company of the light of a torch, just like real miners!
For information on how to visit the Ginevro mine just contact the Calamita mines at these numbers: Tel. +39 0565 935492 – +39 393 9059583 or send an email to [email protected]
At the reception of Villa Teresa in Porto Azzurro you will find leaflets, booklets and brochures dedicated to the mines of Capoliveri and those of Rio.