Mines and Quarries

The ancient kilns in Valle Imperina
(photo by: Gianni Poloniato)

In the mountains of Belluno there are various mineral deposits: many of them are small-size deposits situated in inaccessible places.
Without a doubt, the most interesting site is represented by the mining complex of Val Imperina, in the Agordino area, which has supplied raw material to the copper industry of Veneto for at least five centuries. The mineral extraction, which probably began in the 15th century, went on until 1962. Noteworthy, also from an architectural point of view, is the building housing the old furnaces used to melt the cupriferous pyrite and to refine copper, two activities which were practiced on the spot until the end of the 19th century. Miners and labourers used to come from the surroundings, especially from the Municipality of Rivamonte, and they alternated (at least during the last 100 years) their activity as miners with the activity of itinerant chair makers. The presence of such an important site favored the birth of a specific working culture and left significant traces both from a lexical and technical point of view, and also on the organization of the local community.
The other site of great economic importance, but whose traces have been almost completely lost, is Vallalta (in the Municipality of Gosaldo), which from 1860 to 1870 was the sixth mercury-producing mine in Europe. The mining activity, begun in 1770, continued with ups and downs until 1963. Within the Park territory or in the immediate neighborhoods, there were also stone quarries of small and big size, such as, for example, Perina, in the Municipality of Cesiomaggiore. They were mainly exploitede to meet local needs, and their products were not sold out of the area of Belluno. Widespread were also the activities to produce lime, by heating high-quality calcareous rocks that could easily be found along the pebbly riverbanks. Today you can still see several small stone furnaces, which were used until the 1950s-60s.