What about the Quarry?

The quarries located in La Araña began operating around 1915. Since then, many companies have passed through there, exploiting the Jurassic limestone for the manufacture of cement.

Over the course of these years, numerous caves have appeared as the mining fronts advanced along the Cantal Chico massif, many of them of great geological and archaeological importance. Unfortunately, most of them have disappeared, many without any type of exploration, documentary record or proof of any kind of their existence, except perhaps the large number of pieces of calcite crystals that are displayed and showcased in many private collections and mineralogical museums. The “Calcites of La Cala” are valued and famous throughout the world.

It is necessary to remember some of the caves that have sadly disappeared: One of them is Cueva de la Cuerda, the longest of those existing in the city of Málaga, located practically at sea level, with fresh and salt water inside, of great geological importance and whose whereabouts are unknown today. Or Cueva del Hoyo de la Mina, of extraordinary archaeological relevance, partially excavated in 1918 by Miguel Such, and later destroyed, although a part was rediscovered and reexcavated at the end of the 20th century by the archaeologist Julián Ramos. Today many people are shocked and surprised that something like this could have happened so recently…

It is also necessary to mention the discovery of Cueva Navarro IV, in one of the mining fronts of the Navarro quarry, where Palaeolithic cave paintings were found in a perfect conservation state, that lead to the declaration of the cave as Site of Cultural Interest (Bien de Interés Cultural), and protected, after intense negotiations with the company that owned the cement factory.

This cave, and its natural continuity, the Raja del Humo, that holds a Neanderthal site yet to be studied, are located only a few meters from Cueva de las Estegamitas, constituting an extraordinary geological and archaeological complex of international interest, included as a Site of Geological Interest in the Andalusian Inventory of Georesources and the Spanish Inventory of Sites of Geological Interest, under the protection of the Law 42/2007 of December 13, of Natural Heritage and Biodiversity.

In short, the geological and cultural heritage (archaeological and historical) has paid a high price so far for the development of mining and industrial activity linked to the manufacture of cement in Malaga.

Today, mining has fortunately taken a very different path from that maintained centuries or even decades ago. Nowadays, responsible mining is making its way, that assumes environmental commitments, with standardized codes of good practices, inspired by the principles of sustainability and circular economy and, above all, firmly committed to the safeguarding and conservation of those unique places that exceptionally appear in mining environments, due to their very nature. There are numerous locations throughout the planet where there are examples that demonstrate the compatibility between mining activity and the conservation of geological heritage.

Malaga should not (or rather cannot) be an exception. Losing an exceptional geological place, undoubtedly the most important in its city limits, is something that cannot be allowed in the 21st century. This would mean a loss of our planet’s underground geological heritage, an irresponsibility of incalculable magnitude. The cement factory and the limestone quarry are neither incompatible nor enemies of the Cueva de las Estegamitas. All that is needed is good will, work, research, and informed, agile, and transparent decision-making by the competent administrations. The planet and the people of Malaga will thank you. And the world of responsible mining, too.

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