The Mercury Mines of Tímar


In the early twentieth century (from 1910-1936) this area of the Alpujarra lived from the boom of mercury mining. Two mining factories (Italian and Spanish) were constructed in Tímar.

One was located on the side of the ravine Nieles which was owned by an Italian company, while the other one was located on the side of Cádiar and was Spanish. One more mine was opened in Cástaras in the early 50s with more modern procedures, but this was closed in 1957 through the exhaustion of the reef. Numerous mines and galleries were being perforated, for the extraction of cinnabar (mercury sulfide: HgS), in the surrounding mountains. 


The mines themselves, ie the set of underground galleries were located in the mountain of Tímar called "El Fuerte", because at the top there had been a Moorish fortification (of which there are remains of a wall and a cistern ).


Los Casarones seen from Nieles
Los Casarones seen from Nieles


The pink stones were extracted from the mines and loaded on a wagon train, which transported the load to the factory on 500 m distance. In order to get the metallic mercury, they followed the following process:  The mineral was introduced in steel cages, which were installed in a pipeline located at the exit of the fire of the ovens. With the fire the ore was roasted with an excess of air. The smoke was led through a series of cooling and condensation chambers and finally leaving a chimney after a journey of over 100 meters. Cinnabar (mercury sulfide), reacts with oxygen in air at high temperature to give sulfur dioxide and mercury vapor. Cooling the mercury vapor, the liquid mercury is obtained. 

According to Miguel Ruiz de Almodóvar the mines are related to the original settlers of Tímar after the expulsion of the Moors around 1574. It seemed that  4 families came from  the area of Almaden - Puertollano (Ciudad Real) which are populations closely related to the exploitation of mercury. (Source: http://www.la-alpujarra.org)


Mining Information Center “Museo Malacate”


In this ethnological museum are murals and models representing the traditional mining of the Tímar Mercury as well as various ethnological elements (economic and cultural) of this region: weaving, silkworm breeding, traditional songs, different tools and farm implements, etc.

The museum is located in the old school building next to the church square in Timar.

Entrance: € 2,-

 

Visits to the museum are performed by appointment at the following numbers:

Tlf. (+34) 958 768 107 (from Monday till Friday from 9:00 - 14:00).  On other times telephone  679 038 079 or 618411688 

Location of the Mercury Mines of Tímar