MinesMine PlansLinksContactLinksHome

El Conjuro Mines Spain, A visit to the open cast workings (06/06/18).

Back to El Conjuro Trip Index

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?