Full width home advertisement

Post Page Advertisement [Top]

Porto Flavia

Porto Flavia
On the west coast of Sardinia, the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, there was once an unusual port. It’s a small opening on the rock face of the limestone cliffs above the sea, that led directly to the Masua mines, where zinc and lead ores were extracted, via a 600-meter-long tunnel. Ores were brought by conveyor belts to the mouth of the tunnel, from which a mechanical arm loaded the ore directly onto waiting ships. The ingenious harbor was built in 1924 by engineer Cesare Vecelli, who named it Porto Flavia after his daughter Flavia.
Porto Flavia
Porto Flavia. 
Before the harbor was built, the ore had to hauled from the mines to the beach where they were loaded onto small boats and taken to Carloforte Island harbor 30 kilometers away. The ore was then stored in the magazines or in the hold of waiting steamships until a full load could be shipped to the foundries in France, Belgium and Germany. The transport process was costly, slow and dangerous, and the ore-laden boats often sank in stormy seas. In bad weather, up to two months was required to fully load a steamship in Carloforte. Even when conditions were good, the wait was no less than seven days.
The mines' owner asked the Italian engineer Cesare Vecelli to devise a solution to improve steamship loading time and cost. Vecelli surveyed the coasts of Masua, and found the perfect spot high in the cliffs in front of the Pan di Zucchero stack. Here, the sea was deep enough for ships and well-protected from wind and waves to allow a safe mooring, while the ore could be loaded directly from the cliffs.
Porto Flavia

Vecelli’s design consisted of two superimposed tunnels, each 600 meters long, that were linked by nine huge vertical reservoirs for the processed ore. In the upper tunnel an electric train was used to bring the ore to the reservoirs, while in the lower tunnel a conveyor belt received the ore from the reservoirs and brought it to the loading dock, where another conveyor belt on a movable arm deposited the ore directly on a steamship moored at the base of the cliff. The reservoirs, carved directly into the rock, were capable of holding over 10,000 metric tons of ore. The ends of the tunnels facing the sea were adorned with concrete towers and decorative nameplates.
When Porto Flavia became operative in 1924, it slashed ore production costs by up to 70 percent, allowing Vieille Montagne to gain a strong market share in a short time. The construction of Porto Flavia paid for itself in under two years, and was considered a technical marvel in the minerary business.
Porto Flavia's importance decreased in the 1960s after the decline of mining activity and once the mines closed in the 1990s, Porto Flavia closed too. Today, Porto Flavia is a UNESCO-protected site and much visited by tourists.
Porto Flavia
Photo credit: Courtesy ASM (Archivio storico Minerario, collezione digitale)
Porto Flavia
Photo credit: Courtesy ASM (Archivio storico Minerario, collezione digitale)
Porto Flavia

Porto Flavia
Entrance to the Porto Flavia mine.  
Porto Flavia
View from Porto Flavia.  

Porto Flavia

No comments:

Post a Comment

Bottom Ad [Post Page]