Parco Minerario Cortabbio di Primaluna

Miniere Primaluna


Useful Information

Location: From Lecco follow SS36DIR, then SP62, 40km to Cortabbio. Turn left to Merla, at roudabout left, then immediately right Via Merla to the end. 200m walk to the mine.
Open: DEC to MAY Sun, Hol 10:30, 14:30, 16.
JUN to mid-JUL Sat, Sun, Hol 10:30, 14:30, 16.
Mid-JUL to AUG Mon-Fri 14:30, 16, Sat, Sun, Hol 10:30, 14:30, 16.
SEP to OCT Sun, Hol 10:30, 14:30, 16.
[2018]
Fee: Adults EUR 9.50, Children (6-12) EUR 6.50, Children (3-5) free, Children (0-2) not allowed.
Groups: Adults EUR 6.50.
[2018]
Classification: MineBaryte Mine
Light: electric.
Dimension:
Guided tours: Underground tour: L=1,000m, A=552m asl., D=1.5h.
Surface tour: L=2,500m, D=2h.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: accessible wheelchair and blind
Bibliography:
Address: Parco Minerario Cortabbio di Primaluna, Via Merla snc, Fraz. Cortabbio, 23819 Primaluna LC, Cell: +39-338-9609824. 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

1908 Sali di Bario plant owned by engineer De Ponti opened.
1980 Nuovo Ribasso gallery mined.
1985 Nuovo Ribasso baryte mined.
2012 mine closed.
AUG-2015 opened for the public.

Geology

Baryte is barium sulfate and is used by the food industry, the paper industry, and in the medical field. It is useful as a white pigment in colours and as contrast medium in medical imaging.


Description

Near the towns Cortabbio and Primaluna in Valsassina many different ores were found, iron, copper, silver, lead and baryte. The valley was full of melting furnaces, bellows, and forges. The Parco Minerario Cortabbio di Primaluna is the result of a elementary school teacher, Signor Vanotti, who made a walk in the woods above Primaluna. He found an outcrop of strange white rocks, took some samples and sent them to Milan to have them analyzed. The discovery of this baryte deposit gave work to hundreds of people for more than 150 years.

In the early days the baryte was mined by hand, the miners worked in pairs, one holding the awl and the other beating with the sledgehammer. A compressor powered jackhammer was intruduced in

In 1908 the engineer De Ponti from Milan opened a processing plant in the valley, the Sali di Bario plant. It was soon followed by others. The baryte was transported there with horse-drawn carts and later with trucks.

The baryte mining had its heydays during the first half of the 20th century. But it continued until 2012, so there are many still working and quite modern pieces of mining technology. The baryte was transported on sledges and then with cableways.

The underground tour visits the Nuovo Ribasso Mine, a quite young mine. The Nuovo Ribasso gallery, dug between 1980 and 1985, takes the group 1.000 meters into the mountain, to the baryte vein with its characteristic white colour. On the way mining machinery, geologic details visible in the rock face, and different excavation methods are explained. The highlight is a huge chamber which was created between 1985 and 2015 by excavating the baryte.

The underground tour is completed by a surface walk which goes up the mountainside on a dirt road. There are numerous mine entrances, and finally at the Vittoria mine are the remains of a cableway. Then the Speranza Superiore and Virginia Superiore mine, two huge open cast mines created in the second half of the 19th century.

This show mine is operated by the Miniere Turistiche del Lago di Como. This is a group of mine guides who operate the parco minerario Piani Resinelli and the parco minerario Cortabbio di Primaluna. Because they are both located near Lecce and close to the Lago do Como, the group is named after the lake.