Miniere di Dossena

Dossena Mines


Useful Information

Location: A4 Milano-Venezia, exit Dalmine, SS470dir 14km toewards Bremaban valley. At Villa d'Albe take SS470 to San Pellegrino Terme for 19 km. Follow signs to Dossena, then to Paglio.
Open: APR to OCT Sun 14-18, last entry 17, reservation required.
[2020]
Fee:
Classification: MineIron Mine MineCopper Mine MineZinc Mine MineFluorite Mine MineSilver Mine
Light: electric.
Dimension: T=8-10°C.
Guided tours: D=60min.
Photography:
Accessibility:
Bibliography:
Address: Miniere di Dossena, Località, 24010 Paglio BG, Tel: +39-333-429-9835. 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

1801 industrial exploitation of iron ores begins in Gorno.
1869 mining of zinc ore.
1909 end of zinc ore mining.
1915 begin of fluorite extraction by an Austro-Belgian company.
1921 fluorite mining instensified.
1981 mine closed.
2015 opened to the public as a show mine.

Geology

A polymetallic ore body of hydrothermal origin in 230 Ma old limestone. The limestone is karstified and during the mining numerous potholes were found. There are numerous metals like zinc, copper, iron, lead, and silver plus fluorite. During the centuries one or the other metal was of greater value, but during the 20th century the mining concentrated on the fluorite.


Description

The Miniere di Dossena, named after nearby village Dossena is located in the Val Parina at the Via Mercatorum, a rich and varied mining district with zinc, lead and calamine, fluorite, blende and galena mines, but also quarries for Arabescato Orobico marble. The first mining at Dossena started most likely in the Bronze Age, continued with Etruscans and Romans. Pliny the Elder used Bergamo as an example for mining activities in the Roman empire in his book Naturalis Historia (book 34). He told about the mining of zinc ore named calamine (zinc oxide) an one of the places he referred to was most likely the Dossena-Oltre il Colle area. He also describes the medicinal properties of zinc oxide and how it could be used in medicine. The use to dry, heal, block secretions, clean up hard eyes, and remove granulations he described is exactly what it is used for until today. Zinc oxide is today available in any drug store. Zinc ore was also used for the production of brass alloy tools and for the production of coins.

The area also interested Leonardo da Vinci, who seems to have visited it while he stayed at Milano from 1428 to 1513. He was sent here by the governor of Milano, Charles d’Ambroyse, around 1509. He created the first cartographic representations of the Bergamo valleys a drawing of the mine. It is preserved today in the Royal Library at Windsor.

The mining during the 19th century was focused on iron ores. But from the first World War fluorite became more important. It was needed as a flux in metallurgy and for the production of hydrofluoric acid, a very corrosive acid for the processing of glass and for the production of anti-rust. But during the 1930s the main mining area moved north to the site called Lente Martelli. The deposit here was 800 meters long, 70 meters high and 40 wide.

Over the centuries the sorting of ore from spoil was always done manually. The women who crushed the stone by hand, dividing the ore from the rock, were called taissines. This ended finally in 1954 when a mechanical sorting system named Laveria del Brembo was installed in Portiera.

The mining site of Paglio-Pignolino was restored by the Associazione miniere di Dossena (Mining Association of Dossena) with the support of the Comune di Dossena. The secured tunnel, the Sandri gallery or level 0 of the Paglio Pignolino locality, contain the remains of the mioning activities like food cans for lunch or mining overalls. A mining museum was recently set up in the center of the village of Dossena. The mine is also used on special events like concerts and church service on special Holidays.