Last modified: 2016-12-20 by ivan sache
Keywords: minas de riotinto |
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Flag of Minas de Riotinto - Image from the Símbolos de Huelva website, 1 September 2016
The municipality of Minas de Riotinto (4,063 inhabitants in 2015; 2,331 ha; municipal website) is located 75 km north-east of Huelva.
Minas de Riotinto emerged in the 18th century when mining started in an area of the Pyrites Belt subsequently known as the South Motherload; a small group of huts, known as Las Minas de Riotinto, formed a hamlet depending on Zalamea la Real. The municipality of Las Minas de Riotinto was established in 1841, with a very specific status, unique among the Spanish municipalities: all the buildings and even the streets were owned by the Spanish State. The village was the result of an unplanned urbanization that adapted to the natural topography, with the parish church erected at the highest point of the village. Emblematic buildings made of it a typical "Andalusian village".
The mines were acquired in 1873, a few days after the proclamation of the Spanish Republic, by a British consortium, supported by the Deutsche Bank, which developed industrial mining. Río Tinto Company Limited is now the biggest international mining company in the world.
Large-scale opencast mining was initiated in 1874 in Riotinto; the next year, the shareholder's assembly decided to suppress the old village of Riotinto and to build a new one, more suitable to house manpower that was massively brought to the mines. The general map of the mines designed in 1891 shows several new boroughs, such as Alto de la Mesa, Bella Vista, El Valle, and La Atalaya. The new settlements were not organized according to any urban typology but scattered close to the working places, in order to limit transport of workers between housing estates and the mines; in several cases, the new boroughs replaced makeshift huts built by the miners. The original village, locally known as La Mina, progressively disappeared in the 20th century.
The mines were nationalized in 1954 and transferred to a new company, the Compañía Española de Minas de Rio Tinto S.A. The exploitation of the mines was stopped in 2001 after the fall of the price of copper.
Emed Tartessus, the Spanish branch of Emed Mining, an international company registered in Cyprus, acquired in October 2008 Proyecto Río Tinto, the organism in charge of the management of the mines. The Riotinto mines were reactivated in 2015 (El Pais, 17 April 2015), while Emed Tartessus was renamed Atalaya Mining Public Limited (website). The reserves of the Riotinto mine are evaluated at 123 million t, with a rate of copper ore of 0.49% (600,000 t).
Atalaya Mining declared commercial production as of 1 February 2016 at an initial processing rate of 5 million t per annuum. The Expansion Project to increase processing capacity to 9.5 million t is under way, ahead of schedule and under budget. Currently there are over 250 employees and some 400 contractors permanently working on site.
Minas de Riotinto is self-styled the Cradle of Spanish Football. The Río Tinto Company Limited established in 1878 the Club inglés, whose section Rio Tinto Foot-Ball Club was the first football club founded in Spain. The football match played the same year during the town's festival was the first ever played in Spain. The Rio Tinto F.C. merged in 1932 with Balompié Rio Tinto, established in 1914, to form Riotinto Balompié. The club winded up during the Civil War and was recreated in 1947 as Club del Riotinto Balompié, which played in the 3rd League for only one season (1956-1957).
[Arquehistoria, 27 May 2009]
Ivan Sache, 1 September 2016
The flag (photo, photo, photo, photo,
photo, photo, photo) and arms of Minas de Riotinto, adopted on 3 May 1998 by the Municipal Council and validated on 29 October 1998 by the Royal Academy of Córdoba, are prescribed by Decree No. 266, adopted on 15 December 1998 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 12 January 1999 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 5, p. 429 (text). This was confirmed by a Resolution adopted on 30 November 2004 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 20 December 2004 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 246, pp. 28,986-29,002 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:
Flag: Rectangular, in proportions 11 x 18, made of four parallel stripes perpendicular to the hoist, the first, blue, of 7/10 of the [flag's] width and the remaining ones, white, red, and white, of 1/10 each of the same. Charged in the center with the local coat of arms.
Coat of arms: Spanish shield. Azure two pickaxes argent in saltire the sinister Neolithic in base waves argent and gules. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.
The municipality adopted in 1983 a "rehabilitated" coat of arms, based on the ink seal used, with minor differences, since 26 March 1923: "Quarterly, 1. Azure a Roman oil lamp proper flaming, 2. Or an anvil with two sledgehammers azure the one in bend the other in bend sinister, 3. Or a capstan proper, 4. A coal wagon on a one-arched bridge [or some equivalent building]. Two concentric circles in the middle. The shield surmounted by an imperfectly designed crown inscribed with 'Ayuntamiento de Minas de Riotinto'. The shield surrounded by ribbons with the national colours."
The charges were aimed at representing mining activity. The Roman lamp recalls that underground mining has been performed in the mines for age. The tools and the capstan also symbolize extraction, while the railway symbolizes modern means of transport. The shield was therefore designed as an illustration of the past, present and future relations between the place and mining industry, its main source of income since the earlier ages. The charges, however, were not specific of mining industry.
The Roman lamp was used as a source of light not only in mines but everywhere. The capstan, used to extract ore and water from the mines, was also used in agricultural machinery, especially for threshing. The railway is not specific of the re-supplying of mines, either. Finally, the tools and anvil are more related to mining, but again, they are not specific to this industry.
The municipality asked on 12 March 1993 the Royal Academy of History for documents on early seals of the town; the Academy replied on 13 April 1993 that nothing had been found.
The Royal Academy of Córdoba rejected on 13 July 1995 a proposal of arms and flag, arguing that the supporting documentation was not conclusive - blurred photocopies of seals used in 1861 and 1879, the 1861 seal being most probably a reproduction of the national arms. Moreover, the proposed coat of arms was not compliant with the norms of heraldry, both in the design and the tinctures. The Academy recommended to commission a competent chronicler of arms. The Academy rejected the proposed flag, which had been submitted without any explanation.
The symbols were proposed on 15 June 1995 by Juan José Antequera.
None of the charges used in the previous coat of arms were kept. In a seal used in 1858, the 3rd and 4th quarters of the shield modelled on the national arms (1. Castile, 2. León. Grafted in base, Granada. Inescutcheon, Anjou) appear a pickaxe and a sledgehammer, the latter in Neolithic design, made at the time with diorite. In a seal used two years later, the miner's tools were relocated outside the shield and crossed in saltire in base. In a seal dated 1876, waves appear beneath the tools, undoubtedly representing the name of the town (lit. Red River's Mines). These arms were replaced the next year by the national arms.
The only colour reproduction of the arms with the tools and waves appear on a watercoloured ex-voto, dated 1904; here the arms are represented with red and white waves.
The pickaxes and the waves argent and gules make the arms canting. Such representations were used in the Middle Ages for Rio Negro (Black River, sable and argent), Rio Verde (Green river, vert and argent) and were transferred to the Americas. More recently, the same representation was used for the Sahara colony of Rio de Oro (Golden River, or and azure).
[Juan José Antequera. Principios de transmisibilidad en las heráldicas officiales de Sevilla, Córdoba y Huelva]
Ivan Sache, 1 September 2016