Old Antimony Mines

These mines stand as a unique and vital monument of Greece’s industrial archaeology and heritage. Their story begins in 1897, with the construction of facilities by the French company Société Anonyme des Mines de Keramos (Keramos Mines Societe Anonyme). To organise the extraction of the ore, the company established an administration building, a chemistry lab, and a machine shop together with a house for an engineer. Residences were also erected for the manager and others, as were storehouses and a loading – unloading ramp at Agiasmata beach.
The machines used here were constructed by the Dritsas machine workshop of Piraeus under the supervision of the French engineer Pelloux, who also served as the first director of the mines. A success from the get-go, the mines functioned until the late 1910s. A new permit was issued in 1940, and the mines once again began functioning under new management, controlled by the Bodosakis family. Production ceased during the war but re-started in 1949 with Marshall plan funds. The last of these efforts ended in 1954. Unfortunately, the revival of operations at the mine became associated with the deaths of workers due to lung diseases. The lack of personal protective measures for those working in the tunnels often lead to serious illness and death.

The buildings of the mining complex stand abandoned and in ruins today. Similarly, the extensive accommodations for the miners and other inhabitants are also derelict (fig. 66.2). They’re all that remains of a bygone era, tangible evidence of abandonment and decay. The director’s residence at Agiasmata has collapsed almost entirely, as have the old storehouses and the loading platform.
In 1998 a study for the restoration of the mines and the abandoned neighbouring village of Lardato, prepared by the then Cultural and Technological Foundation of the ETVA (ETVA CTI) – currently the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation (PBGCF) – was presented at the “Omireion” Cultural Centre of the Municipality of Chios. The study proposed the establishment of a museum, the “Antimony Production Museum”, but sadly, it has yet to be implemented. The old mining facilities are an intrinsic and valuable part of this place’s history and their promotion as such would help draw visitors to the region, develop tourism and give the locals another reason to stay.

Monument in honour of the workers who lost their lives in the Antimony Mines12. A small monument, a cenotaph covered in names, has been erected outside the old Keramos mines to honour the miners who died in the line of duty. It includes the names of miners who either lost their lives while working in the mines or succumbed to illness as a result of their work. The back-breaking, unsafe conditions in the mines were the cause of numerous accidents, while the lack of personal protective measures took its toll on the health of the miners. It wasn’t long before the first consequences began to appear, and the mortality rate rose accordingly. This was inevitable given the tragic lack of protective measures and lax state oversight of the company both at the central and at the local level. The monument was erected on the initiative of The Association of Keramousiotes of Chios “Agios Panteleimon”.

360 Image