Logrosán is a small town located in the southeast of Cáceres province within the Villuercas-Ibores-Jara Geopark area. Despite not being a particularly appealing destination, it once was an important mining town. In my last trip to Extremadura I visited the Costanaza mine to learn more about it, after enjoying a nice walk and lunch in nearby Cañamero.
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About the Costanaza mine
Las Villuercas is one of the oldest geological areas in the Iberian Peninsula. Phosphorite was discovered in the 18th century in Logrosán, and by mid-1800s was already being extracted. This mineral was in high demand in England during the Industrial Revolution and other parts of Europe for producing phosphate fertilisers.
Exporting the mineral wasn’t an easy task due to Logrosán’s poor railway connections. There were several failed attempts at connecting the area with Seville by train. Later, the mine in Aldea Moret (Cáceres) opened, and the mineral was taken there by oxcart. It was then transported by train to Salamanca, where partner company Abonos Mirat was based. Logrosan’s glory days as a mining town reached its peak in the 1920s, when the mine became Europe’s most important phosphate mine and Logrosan’s population exceeded 10,000 people (today’s population is only about 2,000). The company Fosfatos de Logrosán was created and a factory opened in Villanueva de la Serena (Badajoz). The mine closed in 1946.
About the visit
You can only visit the mine on a guided tour, and advanced booking by phone or email is required (see details at the end of the article). You can expect it to last around 2 hours, but we spent a good 3 hours there. We found it very interesting and informative, and the guide was knowledgeable and incredibly enthusiastic. Her English was good, and delivered the tour both in Spanish and English, which made things easier.
Our visit started in the reception area (former chemical laboratory), with an introduction about the geological characteristics of the area and the history of the mine. We watched a video where a local man describes how life in the mine was for workers. Miners worked in shifts from Monday to Saturday and received a monthly salary of 5 pesetas (around 0.025p). Many of them became ill with silicosis and pneumonia.
After the introduction, it was time to go down the mine, which is 210 m deep and has 21 levels. Only the first level has direct access from outside from two entry points, separated on the surface by the main road. After putting on safety helmets, we crossed the road to enter the mine via the so-called pozo María. The former mine turret that you can see in the background is now being used by the local olive mill.
Down in the mine, we learnt a bit about the extraction process. Workers made holes using hand-powered manual drills. A detonation would follow, and then miners would break the blocks of stone and take them outside using wagons. Once outside, women would take them to a nearby pool to wash and clean the minerals. They would then break the minerals into smaller pieces to facilitate the subsequent milling.
One of my favourite things during the visit was a room containing fluorescent minerals from all corners of the world. I’ve seen this kind of minerals before in one of my local museums, but this display was much bigger. I was amazed by the number of samples and the variety of colours.
We left the mine in a mini-train, which was quite funny. By the time we were out, it was completely dark, but the guide asked us if we wanted to pop by the museum to have a look at more minerals, so there we went. Our visit lasted 3 hours, and the guide could happily have spent another hour teaching us things about minerals and Geology. I found €8 for a 3-hour guided tour even too cheap! I’d give it a 10/10 review.
Mina Costanaza: practical info
Address: Carretera de Guadalupe, 11 (opposite San Mateo olive mill), 10120 Logrosán
Opening times: Mon-Sat from 10am-2pm and 5pm-7pm; Sun and bank holidays 10am-2pm.
Advance booking required. You can book by phone (+34 927 360 180) or email ([email protected]).
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MinasDeLogrosan/
Logrosán: practical info
Distance: 30 km from Guadalupe; 77 km from Trujillo; 123 km from Cáceres