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The visit to the Pozo Sotón mine becomes the star of the International Tourism Trade Fair (Fitur), in Madrid

The visit to the Pozo Sotón mine becomes the star of the International Tourism Trade Fair (Fitur), in Madrid

18/01/2017 - Madrid

The tourist offer of the Sotón Shaft will be the protagonist at the International Tourism Trade Fair (Fitur) which takes place from January 18th to 22nd at Ifema, Madrid. HUNOSA’s Chairwoman, Ms. María Teresa Mallada, and the mining guides at the Shaft will be in charge of making known the visits to the interior of the emblematic Asturian mine, Sotón’s main tourist draw.

While the mining guides will be present throughout the Trade Fair informing about the Sotón’s offer, HUNOSA’s Chairwoman, Ms. María Teresa Mallada will make a presentation of Sotón’s tourist project next Thursday, January 19th, at 11:00 am at the pavilion of the regional Government of Asturias in Fitur. HUNOSA attends the Trade Fair as a guest of the town council of San Martín del Rey Aurelio.

For HUNOSA its presence at Fitur constitutes a clear opportunity, since this event is attended by nine thousand exhibitors from more than one hundred and fifty countries. Just to mention another figure having an idea of Fitur’s impact, suffice it to say that last year the event was attended by more than seven thousand journalists. That is why HUNOSA seeks to take advantage of the Trade Fair for making known the guided visits to the inside of a coal mine, a project started on June 2015 which is a novelty at world level.

The visit to the interior of the Sotón Shaft constitutes the real difference of Sotón’s tourist offer, which is supplemented with other attractions, such as visits organized to the outside of the mine or to a small museum. The guided visits are aimed at small groups of tourists, which during a working day have the opportunity of getting to know about the history of mining; besides, they can carry out, more than five hundred below the surface, a number of mining related works. Equipped with the working clothes - a cap, hand gloves, autonomous breathing equipment for emergencies, and a helmet with a safety light– and escorted at all times by the guides, who are “real” HUNOSA’s miners, visitors experience the feeling of being miners for one day. During the visit, the tourists are provided with safety instructions, make a tour of the outside facilities and told about the history of the mine, and they take the “cage” (the mine’s lift) which takes them almost four hundred meters below the surface. Once there, the visitor begins his/her tour through the inside of the mine through the “La Jota”, a ventilation chimney, which was also used as an ancillary way out, handmade and reinforced only with woodwork. “La Jota” is one hundred meter long, with an average slope of 430. At some points, it has an average width of less than 1 m2, which at times requires visitors to crawl with the feet first. These features are what turn this section into one of the visit’s highlights.

After crawling through the 'La Jota', the tourist arrives to the ninth floor, at a depth of 467 meters below the surface. There, the visitor is informed about the different ways for extracting the mineral in a mine. The tour includes, among other draws, a workshop in which the tourist can try his skill with the hammer and to extract a stone of coal, which he/she may take as a souvenir; a working face for drillers, which will allow him/her to know the harshness which this work entails; and to go down through an almost vertical shaft to the tenth floor, at a depth of 557 meters, the highest depth which a tourist can visit at a mining facility in Europe (almost four times the height of Torre Picasso in Madrid). Finally, the return to the mine entrance, which takes place on a mining train which makes a 2 kilometer tour, at a depth of almost 600 meters below the surface.

Up to this date, more than three thousand visitors have gone into the 140 kilometers long network of shafts which can be toured from the Shaft’s entrance. In order to duly assess this figure, it must be taken into account that, due to safety reasons, the visit is limited to small groups of tourists. At first, the visits started with groups of 10 persons, while since about one year, the figure has increased to 30 persons per day. Furthermore, due to its difficulties, the visit is not open to everybody.

Since the program began, the Shaft has been witness of unique events. For instance, Father Ángel has been to the mine for giving his blessing to an image of St. Barbara, made up of coal; a couple announced their commitment to get married; the main sporting associations in Asturias showed their support to the project with visits; and the Shaft has been the venue of the 1st Trade Fair of Mining Tourism. Besides, during this year and a half, Sotón has become part, together with the Museo de la Minería y la Industria de Asturias (MUMI), of the European Mining Museums network, a network which jointly records more than 1 Million visitors each year; it has been the stage for the shooting of the film “La Mina”, from the studio Warner Bross; has become the first mine in the world which can be visited through Google Street View, the social platform which allows the internet surfer to get into the cage, to go down the shaft and to make a tour of some galleries in the mine; and it has become a member of the international event Descenso Internacional del Sella, with whose organizers HUNOSA will share some events in Fitur; etc.

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