Sandfire MATSA currently has three underground mines in operation. Located in the province of Huelva, Aguas Teñidas and Magdalena mines are in the district of Almonaster la Real, while Sotiel mine is in Calañas.
Each mineral deposit tells its own story, but the three are all located in the Iberian Pyrite Belt, a mining district more than 250 kilometres long. Remains of mining activity have been found dating back to the Copper Age, some 4,500 years ago.
Aguas Teñidas is an underground massive sulphide deposit typical of the Iberian Pyrite Belt, who main reserve is copper ore.
The Aguas Teñidas deposit was discovered in the 1980s. The first access ramp was constructed in 1997, for the extraction of the ore which was processed in a former processing plant in the district of Calañas. In 2001, after 3 years of production, the mine closed down due to the slump in metal prices.
In 2005, as metal prices recovered, the company Iberian Minerals Corp. purchased all of the mining rights and started the process to resume operations.
In 2006, the project received a favourable environmental report for resuming operations and, one year later, were awarded the building permits for the processing plant and the paste deposit. In 2009, the company opened commercial production with the sale of the first concentrates. Since then, there have been a number of projects to extend the ore processing plant and the exterior facilities.
Aguas Teñidas has two access ramps to the mine which are connected. These ramps serve to make the mine safer, as there are now two emergency exits, and they also help to make the air cleaner.
The exploration building, which stores the ore samples from the three mines, the workshops and an electricity substation which supplies power to the ore processing plant are located at Aguas Teñidas. There is also an integral water management system, a building exclusively for the use of the Mining Rescue Brigade and a General Office building equipped with changing rooms, canteen, shift change areas and classrooms, as well as other facilities.