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Industrial battlefield in Monteponi

Monteponi mine

Industrial battlefield in Monteponi

150 years of zinc processing have left their mark on Monteponi, Sardinia: the earth has turned red, and the hillsides are garnished with ruins of the Miniera di Monteponi.

The "Miniera di Monteponi" was a success: since 1850, all kinds of minerals have been extracted and processed into lead and zinc.

The preparation plants, mine buildings, chemical factories and smelters are built in an amalgam of neoclassical and eclectic architecture. Not that you see much of it today: the entire factory is in ruins, except for the renovated director's house and the Sella mine pit.

Electrolysis factory

Expansion and modernization of the mine continued into 1920, with the construction of an electrolysis and sulfuric acid plant. The impure zinc oxide was dissolved in sulfuric acid, after which zinc metal was extracted via electrolysis, a discovery from the early 20th century.

From the 1930s onwards, Monteponi slowly but surely declined despite a brief revival in the 1950s. It merged with the Montevecchio mine in 1962 to cut costs. It didn't help much. Many buildings were dismantled and demolished.

Papal visit

The mine reached its final milestone in 1985 when Pope John Paul II visited the miners: "Your work represents a tradition that goes back centuries because the soil of your island hides such a specific wealth."

The Pope descended 200 meters underground to greet the miners and bless a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Despite the papal blessing, the mine finally closed its gates ten years later, in 1995.


Now, the entire factory is in pieces. No roof is still intact because all the asbestos has been removed, exposing the buildings to the weather's antics. No wonder many structures collapsed.


Remains of the factory are also strewn in the Monteponi Valley. If you drive into Iglesias along the SS126, you will pass, among other things, the "Laveria Mameli."

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