San Francesco – Sa Matta
San Francesco - Sa Matta - Orani (NU)
Site Category: Mining
In the long list of Sardinia's mining resources, talc (hydrated magnesium silicate) also played a significant role with important mines. It was at Orani, about 20 km from Nuoro, that this mineral began to be extracted from 1917 onwards; its uses range from the textile and paper industry, to pharmaceutics and cosmetics. In the early years of operation, work on the two large deposits - vecchio sa Matta
and Massa Pierino - was hampered by difficulties in progressing underground. Almost ten years went by before production for the mainland industries reached substantial levels. The highest yields were achieved after World War II, when three more worksites were opened: San Francesco - by far the most important; S' Arenargi u and finally Lasasai-Bonucore.
The start of open-cast mining in the late 1950s gave renewed momentum to production, under the direction of the Mineraria Valchisone and SOIM, a company owned by Nuoro businessman Pietrino Guiso-Gal/isai. As is often the case in this industry, good years alternated with bad, and bankruptcy for concession-holders was always lurking round the corner.
Thus with various fluctuations, the Orani talc mines passed through several hands, including the Ente Minerario Sardo, and the multinationals Rio Tinto and Hoechst, with gradual improvements in both extraction and processing operations. Today, talc still has a good market and the open-cast operations allow very competitive earnings per ton/miner/day.