Geomaterials as a resourse for mankind development: the Traversella and Brosso Mining areas

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Traversella and Brosso are between the most important historical and mineralogical sites in Piedmont region. Places of high scientific interest for mineral collectors, samples coming from these two mining sites are on exposition in museums all over the world.

The Progeo Piemonte project aim to promote these two mines and their surrounding environment, focusing on all that was directly connected with the mine activity (extraction sites, tunnels, milling and processing sites, buildings and industrial archeology) but also on the social and economic impact that the mining industry had on the area.

Traversella was a very prominent extraction site at domestic level, from the end of Middle Age up to 1971, when the last owner (FIAT) decided to stop its activity. In the pre-industrial era, the iron extraction was only performed during pauses in agricultural works, but starting from 1700, siderurgy acquiring preeminence, the mineral extraction become more intense and in the surrounding area different specialization and activities appears, giving rise to a new social fabric and giving hope to the surviving of the local population.

The Traversella site still have a widespread net of tunnels and pits, only partly accessible, and a vast amount of external structures, some restored by the Municipality of Traversella and by the Gruppo Mineralogico Valchiusella.

The site is renowned for samples of stunning beauty of minerals like magnetite, pyrite, dolomite, quartz and scheelite. At present about a hundred of different mineral species are recognized in Traversella, and their number is constantly increasing.

Some old documentation dating back to XI century claim the property of the Brosso mine to the Count of San Martino. The last owner (Montecatini) closed all the activities in 1964, despite the fact that reserves of ore still remains in the site (as well as in Traversella one). Brosso was very important for the extraction of magnetite as iron ore, until the end of 1700. Successively the site was used for the extraction of pyrite, useful in the manufacturing of iron sulphate and sulphuric acid. The impact of the mining activity in the Brosso area and in the lower Canavese Valleys was powerful, with different industrial plant nearby. As for Traversella, many kilometers of old tunnels as well as ruins and relics of extraction buildings still remains in the territory.

From a mineralogical point of view, Brosso is renowned for beautiful samples of baryte, galena and boron-related minerals, like ludwigite, szaibelyite and canavesite (unique type-locality). Outstanding professors of the XIX century wrote very important papers about the mineralogy and characteristics of Brosso mineralizations.

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