Amiantos (Asbestos) Mine

In addition to copper, the metal that Cyprus has long been famous for (and named after), another mineral has make its mark in the history of the island. Asbestos. Since antiquity, especially since Roman and Classical times, Cyprus has been known for the presence of Asbestos in today’s Asian region. The largest Asbestos mine in Europe and, one of the most important ones in the world is this mine, in Amiantos Village. Asbestos would form on the surface of the ground and it caused a great interest in ancient times. Asbestos was used to make burial shrouds, shoes, fuses for lamps, protective covers for homes and churches and clothing for the locals.

Asbestos was known then as vamvakopetra (cottonstone). In the early days, the organised production of asbestos started in 1904. From then until its closing in 1988 it is estimated that a million tonnes on asbestos fibres were mined and 130 million tonnes of asbestos stone. The Cypriot asbestos mines were profitable up until 1982, when the international campaign against asbestos use, caused a substantial decrease in the demand and hence the price of asbestos, resulting in financial problems for the company. Since the ore is mined from the ground, changes in the morphology and vegetation of the site occurred. Thus, the long-term operation of the mine by the surface exploitation method inevitably affected the natural environment of the area and had direct and indirect effects on the wider environment. Upon the termination of mining operations, the state undertook the task of rehabilitation under the guidance of a multidisciplinary team.