Over the last 5 years I've driven past this mine 3 times and never
been able to stop due to various non mining parties in the car. This year at
last I could have a look. We set off from base after lunch and drove up into
the mountains on the fringes of the Sierra Nevada park. It was only 38km, but
took a good part of an hour to get there, however the scenery compensated for
the slow going.
On arrival we ended up driving to the northern part of
the complex. This side was pretty much a large flattened spoil heap and quite
featureless, apart from a few heaps of aggregate ready to be used for
something. We went right over to the eastern edge and here we saw the erosion
of the spoil heap dropping down into the valley below. Completing a sort of
perimeter route, we headed for the centre and took the track that led towards
the southern end. From the track we got a good view of a high outcrop of rock
where there is a communications installation. By the track we walked past the
power line poles to it. Quite a few of the support cables had snapped resulting
in the power cable on the ground - thankfully insulated. The track eventually
gave access to some of the benches left at the mine. We managed to get to one
of the main ones and had a great vista of the open cast pit below. Looking at
the bench walls we where surprised to find lots of calcification and pretty
impressive formations. It looks like the strata is filled with rifts and some
have been exposed during the mining. Is there such a thing as a surface cave?
All over the mine site in this part there were lots of wild irises, lavender
and rosemary growing, so the walk was rather aromatic. Returning to the car, we
then drove over to the pit entrance.
Parking up again, we descended into
the pit via a track and eventually we could see the edge of the bench that we
had been on before, quite high up - probably around the 70-80m mark. The only
reason I can put a figure on it is that it looks very similar in height to
Malham Cove. We had a wonder around looking at the rock formations and
discovered some more rifts and calcite formations. Even though most of the pit
floor was covered in spoil there was still a surprising number of plants
growing on it - lavender, thyme and broom.
From the pit, we then drove a
little down the road to where the old weighbridge was and the old ore hoppers
that used to load the aerial ropeway tubs. Here we had an encounter with a pack
of stray dogs that had taken residence in one of the buildings. We also met a
shepherd here that was sitting on a ledge, an exchange of 'Hola's' and
handshakes followed. We tried to explain that we where from England, and that
we were staying in Órgiva, but he did not seem to get it. Eventually he
understood that we were staying in Órgiva, but he pronounced it
completely differently to us. At this point he burst out laughing. We said
goodbye and then drove to the mine administration buildings a little further
down. From this area we had a great view across a little valley to the mine
site and the ore hoppers.
Another hour saw us back at the finca,
followed by a beer and plunge into the pool. Why can't mine exploration be the
like this in the UK?