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A Visit to the Abandoned Gold Mine at Rodalquilar in Andalucia

Posted on April 25 2018

Rodalquilar, in Southern Spain is in the Cabo de Gata national park, a volcanic zone and an area of outstanding natural beauty and geological interest. Rodalquilar was once home to one of the largest producing Gold mines in Western Europe. Nowadays, the mine is deserted, but the site remains remarkably intact and it's strange, stark, post-industrial atmosphere makes an interesting and somewhat eerie visit. Operating for over one hundred years, from 1864-1990, over the years the Gold mines have seen a number of different owners and mining companies trying to develop bigger mines and exploit the natural ore found there. Initially using explosives and hand tools and donkey carts to transport the ore, in 1930 electricity was introduced and this enabled the use of electric drills to extract the material leading to increased  output. At peak output in the 1950’s to 1960’s, some 280kg of gold was extracted each year, and the gold mining town of Rodalquilar was home to as many as 1400 people, and in 1956 it was one of the largest gold mines in Western Europe. After poor management, and economic changes lead to the closure of the mines in 1966 the population fell dramatically, to less than 100 people, the number who live there today. The mine is now a well preserved shell which one can wander freely around and explore, imagining the time when it would have been a noisy hive of industry. It's post-industrial apocalyptic architecture was the backdrop to the film 'Solarbabies' in 1986. The abandoned mine and museum is free to visit. It is open to the elements and can be visited at any time, a wonderful place to watch the sun go down.

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