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Industrial soul of Sulcis: giants

This is the fourth part of Monteponi rebirth, a photo reportage on the mining site of Monteponi (Sardegna, Italy). Here you find the second and third parts. The industrial area of Monteponi is wide but also tall. Layers of tunnels and rooms below ground make the exploration of the site dangerous. Often buildings consist of several floors, mostly not accessible. Buildings here are like giants with feet of clay.

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Stone washing area Mameli (1893) seen from the state road SS126. Waelz smoke capacitors, to condense smokes out of the furnaces (right).

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Waelz furnace (back, 1967): 60 meter long and 4 meter wide. Detail of the smoke capacitors (right).

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Lead foundry (1925) and its several, deep, shaky floors.  White zinc complex (1914) : here zinc was distilled as oxide for chemical use.

All pictures and text copyright of Lorenzo Borghi. Contact me at for picture use permission and initiatives.

Industrial soul of Sulcis: ghost town

This is the third part of Monteponi rebirth, a photo reportage on the mining site of Monteponi (Sardegna, Italy). Here you find the second part. Monteponi was an industrial complex. Still, turrets and house-like buildings make Monteponi looking like a town. A very silent one, where the only noises are wind and slammed windows.

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Lead foundry, lower level (1892). The foundry was used to treat mixed minerals from Monteponi and other sites to obtain in loco the final product. Electrolysis cells’ block (1925): here AC was converted to DC for running the electrolysis pools.

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Lead mill (1925). Here lead sheets for the electrolysis plant were forged and laminated.

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Lead foundry, upper level (1925): bring in and lead refinement before the fusion.

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Toilets and dress rooms nearby the compressor room (1906). Turret of the electrolysis plant (1926) part of the complex to extract zinc and iron from oxides mined in loco and in other mines of the area.

All pictures and text copyright of Lorenzo Borghi. Contact me at for picture use permission and initiatives.

Industrial Soul of Sulcis: traces of zinc

This is the second part of Monteponi rebirth, a photo reportage on the mining site of Monteponi (Sardegna, Italy). Monteponi industrial area is split in two by the state road SS126. Uphill, above the extracted and washed soils, are the mine lifts and extraction facilities, such as electrolysis cells and pools. Downhill, in the Scalo areas, furnaces, factories for modern extraction treatments and stock buildings.

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 The pool of the electrolysis plant (1943) and annex. Here zinc muds were collected after electrolysis.

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Sulfuric acid plant (1928), built to overcome the electrolysis treatments. Electrolysis office building (1925)

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A view on of the hills of mine extracted soils beside the sulfuric acid plant (1925) and white zinc leftovers in the courtyard of the white zinc plant. White zinc is a synthetic pigment derived by zinc vapors burned at high temperatures

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Waelz oven facility (1967). Active only for 4 years, the oven is 60 meter long and 4 meter in diameter. This steel cylinder was to collect the furnaces gases of the oven in the background. The oven allowed to extract oxidized minerals and dusts.

All pictures and text copyright of Lorenzo Borghi. Contact me at for picture use permission and initiatives.

Industrial soul of Sulcis: Monteponi rebirth

Sulcis (Sardegna, Italy) is one of the poorest region of Europe. Despite the intense mining activities of the last two centuries and despite the investments of lead and silver and carbon companies. Nowadays, what is left of this intense industrial age are the skeletons of mines and factories spread in the area between Cagliari and Oristano. Among the several abandoned sites, the village of Monteponi (map below).


Grounded in 1850, Monteponi was operative until after WWII. I visited the complex for a couple of days to document the greatness of Sulcis industrial golden age. Several of the buildings are damaged and close to collapse, still the bound between shape and function, the rusty colors and the architectonic variety made the visit to Monteponi highly valuable. This photographic reportage (five picture series, published on every 3 days until the 25.10) is meant to preserve the memory of the place and to promote initiatives to sponsor the rebirth of Monteponi as open air museum.

Monteponi rebirth


Vittorio Emanuele mine shaft (1869). Here were winch and lift to access the mine depths.


Waelz electrical room (1925). This building was meant to re-distribute power in the complex.


Tanks, Waelz area. Collection and distribution of industrial water, a strategic resource for washing mine extracts and running the chemical facilities to extract pure minerals.


Warehouses, Waelz area.


Compressor room for Vittorio Emanuele mine shaft. Five compressors generated here the power for machines and lights in the mine tunnels.

All pictures and text copyright of Lorenzo Borghi (except for Monteponi map, copyright archivio storico Monteponi IGEA). Contact me at for picture use permission and related initiatives.

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