The Aosta Valley boasts a wealth of mines, exploited from ancient times and currently no longer in use. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the iron and copper mines were used to meet the growing requests of the weapons factories of the House of Savoy. These ancient mines can often be found in very scenic locations, and in some it is still possible to observe the infrastructures used for the mining activity, making them places able to appeal both to hiking enthusiasts and visitors with an interest in industrial archaeology.
The mines of Cogne offer an interesting portrait of mining activity in the region, with the remains of the material ropeways still clearly visible, as well as the passenger cableway that ran from Cogne to Colonna and a large number of buildings. In Cogne, you can also visit the ancient silver mine of Valeille, the copper mine of Ecloseur and the magnetite mine of Larsinaz.
An experience not to be missed is a visit to the visitor centre of the Gran Paradiso, Alpinart, and to the permanent exhibition held there on the magnetite mine of Cogne, showing the history and the geology of the mining complex and the activity carried out there.
The mining area of Saint-Marcel is also of significant historical and scientific interest, conserving traces of activity dating back to Roman times, the Middle Ages and the 18th century, with important deposits of iron, copper and manganese. A path that sets out from the Druges picnic area (1594 metres) leads, in half an hour’s walk, to the Servette mining site, where guided visits can be booked to explore two underground galleries. The ViviMiniera documentation centre, at the town hall in Saint-Marcel, offers visitors the chance to find our more about mining in Servette, with a fascinating, stimulating themed route.
Among the main interesting things to see in Saint-Marcel is the Eve-Verda spring, known for the greenish-blue colour of the bed of the stream, due to the mineral deposits there.
In the Val d’Ayas, in Brusson, a modern facility located in a panoramic area overlooking the valley makes it possible for tourists to discover the fascinating underground world of the former Chamousira Fenilliaz gold mine.
At the Joseph Herbet documentation centre, near the little lake of Brusson, a number of interesting photographs are on display, along with period maps illustrating the mining activity in the area.
In La Thuile there are also a number of walking routes for visitors to admire the ruins of the shelters used by the miners that worked on the coal and silver deposits, as well as traces of the rail tracks that used to transport the barrows and the entrances to the tunnels.