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SPRING IN SPAIN, 2006

ARCENA & NW ANDALUCIA

 

Jamon Centre of Spain, National Park and the Birthplace of Rio Tinto

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arcena is the centre for the Parque Natural de la Sierra de Arcena, and also for the best pig products in a country itself renowned for having the best pig products (and the wine was outstanding as well).

 

 

A few Ks away, the richly mineralized hills of the Rio Tinto ("Red River") have been mined since pre-Roman times, but things moved up several gears when the area was taken over by a London consortium in 1872.   Now it's all over, and the great open pits sit there quietly filling up with water. 

 

 

 

Rio Tinto, Rand Mines and BHP

 

For those interested in the sociology of long term corporate excellence, just over ten years later (in 1886) and a long way further south in the Transvaal, South Africa, George Harrison, an Australian prospector, identified outcropping gold bearing rock on a farm called Langlaagte.  Sadly for him, Harrison failed to appreciate the significance of what he had discovered, and he sold his claim for 10 and moved on to the "more prospective" goldfields of the eastern Transvaal .... 10 years later the farm had become Johannesburg, and had a population of 100,000 !!

 

Rand Mines ("The Corner House Group"), the huge South African mining house which was built on the wealth of the Johannesburg gold mines - ended up being mismanaged to a shadow of its former self before it was put out of its misery by being  taken over by an engineering group in the early 1970s.  By contrast, the Rio Tinto Company is now one of the biggest mining groups in the world.

 

A more savvy Australian, the boundary rider Charles Rasp, did recognize the potential of an odd shaped hill in the far west of New South Wales, and put together a syndicate which evolved into the Broken Hill Company on August 10 1885.  After metamorphizing into a steelmaker, and then an oil and gas producer and then a miner again, BHP now competes with Rio Tinto for one of the top global mining company spots.

 

Back in the town of Riotinto, the original mining town is still a thriving centre and a new mine owner has "gone underground".  Do they still play cricket, do you think?

 

 

 

 

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All original material Adrian Fletcher 2000-2015 - The contents may not be hotlinked, or reproduced without permission.