Striking Miners in Sardinia

sardinia mining structuresSardinian mining structures blending into the landscape

With austerity comes the closing of mines in Sardinia—and miners are risking their lives protesting the act.

“Nuraxi Figus Mine, August 30 – Two miners were pulled out on stretchers from the bottom of a mine on the Italian island of Sardinia Thursday.”

“The striking miners had lowered themselves to the bottom of the mine – an area 400 meters below ground – to call attention to their protest.” ~ ANSA: Striking miners pulled out from Sardinian coal mine bottom

The miners are trying to get the Italian government to go ahead with plans for clean-coal technology and CO2 storage.

These miners are part of a long history of mining in Sardinia, an interesting history that tourists seldom get to see. The idea of mining starts in Sardinia over 6000 years before Christ with the mining of obsidian on Monte Arci, volcanic glass that would be made into sharp cutting tools (many times sharper than a surgeon’s scalpel). The L’oro nero or black gold was so important around the Mediterranean that Sardinia is planning a Museum of Obsidian.

The mining of coal was also a large issue in the Fascist era, when Mussolini created new towns like Carbonia and reclaimed long abandoned coal mines to fuel industrial production as the dwindling supply of coal from the UK came to a complete halt and the Italians scrambled to find a solution in Sardinia. Many of those mines have been abandoned, and are disappearing into the landscape, as you can see in the photo upper right (click to see it larger).

“Under the stimulus of autarchy (the will to be self-sufficient)” he declared before a cheering crowd of miners and blackshirts attending the inauguration, “this old and faithful and for too long forgotten soil of Sardinia reveals its treasures.” ~ The Lewiston Daily Sun: Mussolini Dedicates New Mining town in Sardinia

The “indomitable will of Fascism” failed; Sardinia never did become self-sufficient in coal and had to appeal to Germany to augment the Sardinian production, a fact that had serious consequences concerning alliances in the upcoming world war.

Much of the southwest corner of Sardinia is now part of the Sardinia Geopark now under development.

You can learn more about this mining area in our app Sardinia Inside Out, accessible on the right.

Striking Miners in Sardinia originally appeared on Aug 30, 2012, © James Martin


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