Vagonetto – Fokis Mining Park
Did you know that Greece is one of the few world producers of bauxite and aluminium? It is highly probable that a part or even the entire airplane you boarded in order to fly to Greece is made of Greek aluminium and to be precise aluminium from the Delphi area!
For the last 100 years the region of Delphi is the center of important mining activity:
- 1924: the first mining explorations in the Oiti – Ghiona – Parnassos area brought the first resources of “poor iron ore” to light.
- 1927: These resources are officially recognized as “bauxite resources”.
- 1933-34: Bauxites Parnasse S.A. is founded for the exploitation of bauxite.
- 1935-36: A first contract of cooperation between the newly founded company and the French company Lafarge is signed, which provides for the sales of Greek bauxite to the French company for the production of aluminous cements. Relevant contracts are signed with British, Scandinavian, and Swiss companies.
- 1938: Bauxite production at the Parnassos and Ghiona mines reaches 180.000 tons within a year, from 10.000 tons. A new bauxite air-transportation system is built connecting the bauxite mining area with the port of Itea, where bauxite is loaded to ships. The new air-transportation line is 15 km. long.
- 1940: First trial export of 10,000 tons of bauxite to the Soviet Union.
- 1941: German occupation forces oblige Bauxites Parnasse S.A. to «sell» its mines to the German Hansa Leichtmetall Aktien Gesellschaft.
- 1950: Upon end of the German occupation, the company claims back its mines, having been transferred to the Greek State as «spoils of war».
- 1952: Following a compromise agreement, the Greek State leases to Bauxites Parnasse the mines which formerly belonged to the company, and thus begins their post war operation.
- 1963: Bauxites Parnasse signs 30 year contract for the supply of bauxite to the new Aluminium de Grèce (Pechiney) plant.
- 1967: The geographic distribution of the new bauxite deposits shift from Mount Parnasse to the Mount Ghiona mountain range, necessitating the transfer of the company’s mining center from Topolia to the 51st km. of the Lamia – Amfissa National Road.
The rich mining history of the Delphi area, plus an introduction to the bauxite mining, is offered to visitors of the Vagonetto Mining Park. A thematic park, unique in Greece, that opened his doors back in 2003.
The acquaintance with the mining history of bauxite begins with a tour in the exhausted underground Tunnel 850.
Almost 40 years ago, the gallery was a working mining gallery. It was one of the first that started the underground mining of bauxite in the Ghiona area (1967). The Tunnel 850 was closed back in 1972. In 2003 it has been properly preserved and all necessary measures have been taken to ensure that visitors, equipped with safety helmets and raincoats, will be safely transported in the wagon during the visiting tour.
A video (in greek) of the underground part of Vagonetto Mining Park
Next stop at the Exhibition Area of Mining History. It is housed in the old offices of the mine and exhibits minerals, bauxite products like aluminium, information about the uses of this mineral and a section about the ecological restoration of the mining area.
The Interactive Digital Technology Wing is a multidimensional experiential learning method using the educational facilities of digital technology. Three rooms, three colors, three different stories.
In the Blue Room the visitors can watch the short film “The bauxite story” a mixture of documentary and fiction film, narrated by Maria, a real person daughter and granddaughter of miners from the city of Amfissa. The film is a tribute to the miners that had worked here.
In the Red Room, on a suspended screen in form of stalactite, an animation film is projected, starting with the formation of the bauxite from cosmic dust and ending with the transformation of the mineral to aluminium.
In the Green Room, the last one, the visitor is a geologist in charge of the drilling. His scope is to find the best emplacement for the mining operations.
The visit of the Vagonetto Mining Park ends with the outdoor Machinery Exhibition. Machines used for underground mining are exposed near the small church of St. Barbara, patron of the miners.
Information: location: 51Km Lamia – Amfissa road, Amfissa Greece tel: (+30) 2265 078819 website: www.vagonetto.gr
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