The Cova dos Mouros Mine Park includes two ancient copper mines designated by Caeira and Ferrarias, look at the geologic map. This mines are located on the south section of the Iberic Pyritous Area, which is world famous by its richnessess on massive volcanogenic sulphides, commonly known by pyrites. This metallogenetic province forms an arc shapped area 250 km long and 30 to 60 km wide, that contain part of the Alentejo, Algarve and Andaluzia.
The Iberic Pyritous Area (IPA) is situated on a Varisca Orogenic main unity named Portuguese South Area, located on SW of the Iberic Peninsula. The oldest geological unity of IPA is the called Filito-Quartzítico group, which comprehends sedimentary rocks(filitos, siltitos, quartzitos e quartzovaques) settled on the sea at the Middle Fammenian to the Upper Fammenian, 360 to 352 Millions years ago (look at the schema and the chronostratigraphic table).

Above this unity was settled a Volcano-sendiments complex formed by volcanic rocks (Volcanites and riolitic and dacitic composed lava, spilitics, diabases and colvanoclastic rocks). This unity shows that occured volcanic activity on the ocean floor, at 352 to 330 millions years ago, between the Upper Fammenian and the Upper Viseano.

The IPA bed of minerals Genesis is related to the circulation of hydrothermal fluids between the volcanic and the sendimentary rocks, which suffered the physical-quimical processes of lixiviation and ionic exchange. On this fluids dumping sites have formed sulphides masses rich on iron, copper,lead,silver and gold on the sea environment. The richness of this bed of minerals lead to an intensive Mine activity on the IPA.

Finally, overlapping the Volcano-Sendimentary complex, a sequence of turbiditics( grauvaques, siltitos, schists and conglomerates) several km wide had dumped into the ocean floor, which forms the Baixo Alentejo Flysch's Group, aged to the Upper Viseano, 340 to 330 million years ago.


The countless occurences of iron, copper and Maganęs minerals on the IPA, certainly were determinant on the local residents way-of-life. Since the Chalcolithic that these metals sediment have been explored, by the VIII century B.C. the tartéssios, fenicios and the Cartagineses have increased this exploration. During the Roman empire several bed of minerals had been intensely explored, which is the case of S.Domingos, Aljustrel and Canal Caveira in Portugal, and Rio Tinto and Tharsis, in Spain, mainly on its most superficial layer, marked by the existance of Iron Hats or gossans.

Aljustrel's Mine: Cementation copper fields on the industrial area of Algares

S. Domingos Mine: Sulphur Factories on Achada do Gamo.

Rio Tinto Mine: Mining malacate near the Rio Tinto's Museum.

Tharsis Mine- Cut of Filón Norte flooded with acid waters.

The arabians prefer to negociate the metals extracted by the local people in emporiums rather than devote themselves to the extract activity (for which Mertola is an example).

Following the Industrial Revolution of the XIX century, the Mining exploration restarts, with modern techniques, that allowed the extraction of great volumes of minerals to produce copper, mostly on S.Domingos and Aljustrel.

During the begining of the XX century, this activity spread out to the Lousal Mines and The Canal Caveira Mines, situated on the Nw of the IPA. Nowadays the only working Mine its the Neves Corvo Mines, that are a Mining project marked by modern technology for the production of copper concentrated and tin from big ore reservation, with high contents on these metals. There are maganęs beds and mineralization veins of copper, antimony,lead and barium, on the Pyritous Area.

Lousal Mine: malacate 1 and the ore grindding building.

Neves Corvo Mine– Aerial View of the Mine, Photo Somincor.