Report: Historical mining and new mining. From socioeconomic history to the twenty-first century, 20-23 July 2021, La Rábida, Huelva.

The summer course “Historical mining and new mining. From socioeconomic history to the twenty-first century” took place between the 20th and 23rd July 2021. This summer course received the patronage of Labour In Mining WG. The organizers kindly sent us a report with a summary of the discussion and an overview of possible scientific outcomes. LiM is glad to share this report with all the members, followers and readers:

By Adoración Beltrán and José Joaquín García Gómez (Universidad de Almería)

The summer course “Historical mining and new mining. From socioeconomic history to the twenty-first century” took place between the 20th and 23rd July 2021. The course was hosted by the International University of Andalusia (UNIA) at its westernmost location, sited in La Rábida, Huelva. An ideal and idyllic enclave of Columbian past in which speakers and students could share their work, as well as comments, suggestions and remarks that emerged during the discussion of various papers.

University in La Rabida, location of the summer course

International University of Andalucia, in La Rabida, location of the summer course

The course program was developed under the supervision of Dr. Andrés Sánchez Picón, from the University of Almería, and Dr. Antonio Escudero Gutiérrez, from the University of Alicante. A significant part of the speakers came from academia, but there were also some professionals from private companies and institutions such as the Junta de Andalucía.

The course began with the presentation “Expansion and decline of historical mining (nineteenth and twentieth centuries)”. Dr. Andrés Sánchez Picón was in charge of the introductory lecture. He was the first to explain and contextualize the debate between optimists and pessimists about the problem of mining decline. After his clarifying presentation, Dr. Aron Cohen Amselem and Dr. Lluís Torró Gil intervened. Their respective interventions focused on the formation of the working class in mining, specifically in those located in the Andalusian cities of Granada and Linares. Professor and Dr. Aron Cohen highlighted the case of the Alquife Mines. This mining enclave was added to that of Sierra Almagrera, analyzed by Andrés Sánchez Picón in the first presentation. After them, Dr. Ángel Pascual Martínez Soto closed the first day of the course. In his speech he spoke of the working conditions that the miners had and also talked about the existence of a “mining art”, presenting the works by the Belgian painter Constantin Meunier.

The second day of the course welcomed Dr.s Miguel Pérez de Perceval, Antonio Escudero Gutiérrez, Carlos Arenas Posada and Juan Diego Pérez Cebada. Professor Pérez de Perceval began the presentations with a synthetic and, at the same time, detailed presentation on the value of anthropometry to measure the well-being of the population of the mining basins. Hospitals and prison registries represents some of the main sources of data for those studies. Pérez de Perceval was clear in warning of the misuse that has sometimes been made of anthropometric data, since these cannot be used as an economic indicator but as a biological indicator. After him, Dr. Antonio Escudero had the same overtones as the talk that preceded him, since it focused on the living standards of the miners. He focused his attention to mining development of various locations from the north of the peninsula, in Vizcaya, to the southeast n La Unión. To this we must add the explanation he made of the model of Floud, Fogel, Harris and Chul Hong and the introduction of the phenomenon called “Urban Penalty”, which Dr. José Joaquín García Gómez would explain in greater detail on the next day of the course. After them, Carlos Arenas Posada and Juan Diego Pérez Cebada proceeded with their interventions, both focused on the Mining Company Rio Tinto.

Participants of the summer school

Second day of the summer school at La Rabida

The third day of presentations began with the intervention of Dr. José Joaquín García Gómez, senior lecturer at the University of Almería. He presented his work on the effects of the Health Reform on mining cities. His presentation was an interesting complement to that of Dr. Antonio Escudero, who introduced the concept of “Urban Penalty” and that later Professor José Joaquín García would explain with greater emphasis. After his speech, a round table was held in which the mining engineer and Dr. Pilar Orche, the geologist and Dr. Ester Boixereu and the chemical engineer and Dr. Ignacio Suay participated. The three speakers of very diverse profiles loaded with dynamism the last session of the day and also fed a passionate debate on the future of mining from an environmental perspective.

On the last day of the course, Dr. Rafael Salgueiro and Dr. José Luis Parra Alfaro intervened, closing the series of talks of the summer course. Rafael Salgueiro explained the impact that new mining is having in Andalusia and for this he used MATSA as an example. This company currently operates the Aguas Teñidas and Magdalena mines in the province of Huelva. He was followed by José Luis Parra, who picked up the glove of the previous day and explained the future prospects of mining from the field of sustainability and the environment. All the presentations generated different debates in which the students of the course actively participated, among which could be found the more than 20 attending students and several professionals in the area and interested in the subject.”

La Rabida is also a very important historical site related to the voyage of Columbus in America. 
The Monastery of La Rabida, where Colon prepared the voyage to discover America and waited until the financing of the Kings. There are a Museum and a little church and the visit is free for UNIA students.

A permanent exhibition located in the museum at La Rabida, were we can admire the replicas of the “carabelas”, the ships that used by Colon in his voyage


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