Miniera di Amianto di Balangero e Corio

Ecomuseum of the Asbestos Mine of Balangero and Corio - Miniera di San Vittore


Useful Information

Location: Balangero, Val Lanzo, west of Torino.
Open: Not yet open.
[2020]
Fee: Not yet open.
[2020]
Classification: SubterraneaMuseum asbestos mine
Light: electric.
Dimension:
Guided tours:
Photography:
Accessibility:
Bibliography:
Address: R.S.A. srl, 2 Regione Cave, Balangero, To 10070, Tel: +39-0123-3474-12, Tel: +39-0123-3474-52, Fax: +39-0123-3474-52. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1907 deposit discovered by Commander Callisto Cornut.
1918 "Società Anonima Cave di San Vittore" (Anonimous Society of the San Vittore Mine) for exploiting the deposit founded.
1920s begin of serpentine extraction.
1990 mine closed, mining company bankrupt.
1994 R.S.A. s.r.l. founded for the reclamation and development of the environment.

Geology


Description

Located in the Lanzo Valley lies the Miniera di Amianto di Balangero e Corio (Asbestos mine of Balangero and Corio) which is named after the two nearest towns. It is also called San Vittore mine after the mountain located on the four square kilometer mining area. This is a huge open cast pit with a diameter of 800m and a depth of almost 100m. The mine is rather young, operating since the 1920s. Its heyday was from 1951 to its closure. After the war asbestos was in great demand for buildings, also the quality of the fiber from this mine made it one of the biggest asbestos producers in the world. But since th 1960s it was clear that the mining operation damaged the environment substantially. Not only the open cast and the slag heaps, but also the dust, carried by the wind, polluted the air, the water and the surrounding territory. But the end was when the WHO confirmed that asbestos causes lung cancer. As a result asbestos was banned in most countries and the sales dropped immediately. The operator, Società Amiantifera S.p.A. di Balangero (Asbestos Company Ltd. of Balangero), was faced with enormous costs for cleaning up all the places that contained asbestos. As a result they declared bankruptcy in 1990.

Actually the asbestos is inert rock and does not cause anything, but it is fibrous and fibers of a certain size can not be handled by the lung, which causes cancer. If they were bigger or smaller, it would be no problem at all. Nevertheless, asbestos was outlawed in Italy in 1992 with a new law which prohibited to extract, import, export or market asbestos. And the same law specified the reclamation of the mine in Balangero and Corio. As a result the R.S.A. s.r.l. "Società per il Risanamento e lo Sviluppo ambientale" (Society for the reclamation and development of the environment) was established in 1994. It operates the site and is responsible for the restoration of the site. Their job is to make sure there are no harmful remains, but also to give a perspective what to do with the site. The slack heaps were recultivated as the vegetation makes sure no asbestos dust is blown away. They plan to use the water in the open cast for irrigation, build solar energy plants and much more.

The mine buildings with the highest asbestos amounts were smacked down and the debris cleaned or deposited. The remaining buildings were cleaned and will be used for the planned Technology Park. In one of the buildings the ecomuseum will be located, an exhibition on the history and works on the asbestos extraction. The exhibition includes photographs, a model of the site, the artifacts and data of asbestos and mining activities. The museum will be completed by trails with explanatory signs all over the mine and heaps.