The mine at Vani: an industrial monument

Millions of years ago, Cape Vani was the bottom of a caldera on the seabed. Manganese was formed there, a light ashy colored metal, whose alloys are used in the manufacturing of hard and resistant forms of steel. In 1871, interest in the ore led to the exploration of the area where fossils of mammals that lived 3.5 to 2 million years ago such as dwarf elephants, were also found.

The mining operations of the manganese ore created a very big basin near the tip of the cape, with a depth of 40m and a diameter of 1000m, surrounded by vertically cut cliffs exposing horizontal strata in bold black and red colors. On its outskirts a multitude of galleries lay gaping wide. The galleries are simple tunnels through the rock without any signs of support. Many of these had exploratory and not mining purposes, as did the wells scattered throughout the area. Unreachable cave entrances, perhaps galleries or homes, can be seen high up on the steep crevices of the rocks.

The complex is divided into four sections: the mining areas, the processing buildings, the management buildings and the loading dock. In the middle of the mine a stone building with arched openings still stands raising its proud posture. Behind it lies a huge pile of black "dust", obviously processing residue. The surrounding terrain is covered with fine yellow-red sand. The basin is closed to the sea by a cluster of stone structures built for the processing and transportation of ore. A narrow passage between them leads to a small beach with colorful stones. In the background, the impressive loading dock, with its wooden beams still preserved, resembles a tower “perched on the rock".

Operation of the mine began in 1886 and stopped in 1909 due to competition with the Russian of cleaner quality manganese. After the First World War the demand increased again but Russia had stopped exporting due to the revolution and so, in 1918, the mine reopened. In 1928, operations finally came to a stop. For the longest period its exploitation was in the hands of the "Serpieri", descendants of a Hellenized Italian family, who had already leased the mines in Lavrio, Attica. In fact, in 1916 they founded in Lyon the "Βani Milos SA" company.

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