Miniera Gambatesa


Useful Information

Location: A12 (E80) exit Lavagna, turn right towards Val Graveglia-Ne-Reppia. Follow SP33 for 3.2km, then straight SP26 along Val Graveglia for 14km. Turn left at Bivio Batesto, signposted, single lane gravel road 2km to the mine. Allow 30min for the 19km from the motorway, due to winding road.
Open: SEP to MAY Sat, Sun, Hol 10-17.
JUN to JUL Wed-Sun 10-17.
AUG daily 10-17.
Guided tours at 11, 14, 15:30, additional tours on demand.
[2020]
Fee: Adults EUR 11, Children (3-12) 8, Seniors (65+) EUR 10, Students EUR 10, Military EUR 10, Family (2+1) EUR 27, Family (2+2) EUR 32.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 10, minimum EUR 200.
[2020]
Classification: MineIron Mine MineCopper Mine MineManganese Mine
Light: electric.
Dimension: L=25km, T=13-15°C.
Guided tours: D=90min.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Miniera Gambatesa, Via Botasi, 10 Ne, Botasi, 16040 Ne (GE), Tel: +39-0185-338876, Fax: +39-0185-338863, Cell: +39-388-3084752, Cell: +39-347-8163286. E-mail: contact
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

15-MAR-1876 research permit granted to the French engineer Auguste Fages.
29-AUG-1978 mining concession given to the French engineer Auguste Fages for the extraction of iron and copper
1918 taken over by the Voltri iron company.
1939 mine nationalized, now owned by the Società Anonima Mineraria Siderurgica (Iron and Steel Mining Company).
1964 operated by the state owned iron company Italsider.
1971 mine closed because it was not profitable any more.
1976 mine reopened by Sil.Ma Srl, a company created by former miners.
1995 mine became part of the Parco naturale regionale dell'Aveto.
2000 mine opened to the public as a mining museum.
27-MAY-2011 mine finally closed.
2013 show mine closed.
09-DEC-2016 mine opened for the public.

Geology

At Miniera Gambatesa originally various sulfidic ores of iron and copper were mined. Later the oxides and silicates of manganese, called braunite, became more important and were mined until 2013. The manganese was mined from mineralized lenses creating huge caverns called vuoti di coltivazione. The largest chamber of the mine is also the largest in Europe, 220m long, 50m wide and 40m high, named Lente Nord. It produced some 600,000 tons of braunite.


Description

Miniera Gambatesa (Gambatesa Mine)started as an iron and copper mine. But soon the manganese ore braunite became much more valuable. It was needed to make steel of high quality, and so the mining activities were concentrated on this mineral.

The history of European mines is quite similar. In Italy fascism and World War II resulted in the nationalization of the mine and so it was owned by the Società Anonima Mineraria Siderurgica (Iron and Steel Mining Company) from 1939. It remained state owned after the war, just the name changed to Italsider. But in the 1970s, when coal and iron mines all over Europe were closed, the state operated mines were closed in Italy too. Gambatesa was officially closed in 1971.

But the miners were organized and they knew there was a lot of braunite still in the ground, and they were convinced the mine could still work profitable. So the mine was taken over by Sil.Ma, a company created by former miners, and reopened in 1976. The Parco naturale regionale dell'Aveto was created to protect nature and heritage and organize tourism operations. In 1995 the mine became a part of the parc, which was really exceptional. From 2000 they offered tours into a working mine! This is extremely rare, because of the necessary security precautions, but here it worked pretty well for decades. The tourist part of the mine were the historic tunnels, which were created for the mining of iron and copper. But the visitors were driven into the mine on a small mine train which was also used by the miners. The Museo Minerario di Gambatesa (Mining Museum of Gambatesa) offered the underground tour showing the mining techniques like drilling and blasting. The mineral processing on the surface was shown too, and the installations like compressor room, wage room, forge room, and explosives deposit.

As a matter of fact, this was one of the most interesting show mine in Europe during this time. The possibility to see a working mine and talk to miners is extremely rare, especially in Europe were most mines are closed today and the resources are bought on the world market. Unfortunately it ended when the mine was finally closed in 2011 because it was not profitable any more. The show mine was continued a little longer but finally it closed too in 2013.

The problem were different regulations for show mines, especially concerning security. The park and the mining museum were working together to reopen the mine as a normal show mine. After three years the show mine was reopened in 2016.