The mine Peña de Hierro (Huelva) is located in the extreme north-east of Riotinto´s anticline, ten kilometres from Riotinto village and three kilometres from Nerva village. This mine is less well known than Riotinto but with much higher metal standards. It took its name from the mineralised iron peak that crowns the open cast mine.
Although this mine dates from Roman times it only began to be profitable at the beginning of the nineteen century. Since then several mining companies have been granted the right to exploit it: “Agapito Artaloitia” (1853-1883), “The Peninsular Copper Company” (1883-1901) “The Peña Copper Mines Limited (1901-1955), “Compañía Nacional de Piritas” (1955-1960) and finally “Riotinto Patiño” until the closure in 1972.
Peña de Hierro in common with other mines in the area is situated in a geological region called the Iberian Pyrite Belt, which is 300 million years old and of volcanic sedimentary origin. This is why the land contains such a high rate of metals and sulphates, materials out of which the local people have made their living. The pyrites extracted from Peña del Hierro using controlled blasts and subsequent chemical and physical processes, were used to obtain copper sulphate and other metals. These products were carried to Huelva and Sevilla and sent the overseas market by rail. 120 years of mining activity has left its mark on the land on the shape of an open cast mine 330 metres by 190 metres and 65 metres deep, as well as an underground mine 155 metres deep divided into twelve levels.
At the end of 2004 the Riotinto Foundation restored and promoted this mining inheritance.
Guided visits are organised by Riotinto Mining Museum which take you to one of the most wonderful places in the mining region of Riotinto, PEÑA DEL HIERRO. From here, accompanied at all times by a specialised guide, you can view the open cast mine set in a spectacular landscape, and go into a real mining tunnel 200 metres long. You will have the opportunity of visiting the place where I.N.T.A. and N.A.S.A. are carrying out their investigations for the Mars Project. And you can discover the source of the famous Rio Tinto (red river) which has given its name to this unique area.