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«Pirineos-Monte Perdido»



Iron and silver were mined and worked in metallurgy operations up until the early 20th century on both sides of the Pyrenees in the valleys of Chisagüés, Barrosa and Trigoniero in Spain and the Moudang and Géla valleys in France.

Mining began a long time ago, perhaps as far back as prehistoric times or Antiquity. The first document that records this activity, however, mentions the fact that in 1191 King Alfonso II awarded a village charter to 14 miners so that they could settle in Bielsa and work the local silver mines.
The most important product was iron ore that was smelted in the valley itself or in the neighbouring Aure Valley and which acquired a degree of fame in the 16th century.
The eminent geographer Lucas Mallada wrote in 1878 "the valleys of Bielsa and Gistaín are of all those in the province the ones that contain the largest deposits of galena (the natural mineral form of lead sulphide)".

The mines within the Pyrenees-Monte Perdido World Heritage Site include those at Géla, Mallo Ruego, Luisa, Mener and Ana.

Considerable remains of this activity have survived, among them places where people would pan for metals, slag heaps, mine entrances, tracks, shacks, exit platforms, the plinths for posts used to hold up cable, cable corner and exit stations, fallen posts, small wagons, electricity transformers, explosive stores, etc., all of them silent witnesses of a rich past.

One of the most curious of these remains is the structure of an aerial cable first used in 1910 to transport iron ore to the old forge at Moudang Bridge between Aragnouet and Tramezaïgues on the other side of the border. There were two long stretches of cable, one of which was 10 km in length and crossed the ridge at the border at an altitude of 2,464 m.