In northeast Chalkidiki, in the area of 200 km2 between Olympiada, Stanoy, M. Panagia and Ierissos, which is the wider area of the Kassandra’s mines, there is a plethora of old mining works (pits, galleries). In the same area have been found, also, remnants of heaps of cinder, derived from the exploitation of the gold and manganese and gold-bearing silver-gold mining of the region. Based on the historical sources and the results of direct or indirect analyses and determinations, which have been made in the above slags, the initiation of the activity is found in the early classical antiquity.
It is estimated that the number of ancient works in the wider region of Stratoni-Olympiad is close to 600. The most important places for the deposition of ancient cinder have been identified immediately east of Stratoniki where large pieces, from which a competent department has been swept away and answered in the bed of Kokkinolakkas, on the road between Stagira and Megali Panagia. They are also found in Arnaias and 12 km from Paleochori, as well as in the location “Skouries” of the community of Megali Panagia, in place Piabitsa – Kipoyritsa, west of Olympiada.
For the mining and metallurgical activities of the ancient period it is worth mentioning that depending on the nature of the minerals, the mining works and the shafts or galleries. The shafts located in places where the placer veins were expected to cross and where the richest parts of minerals are known. The metered of the ore was made with galleries, which followed the mineralization, leaving, where possible, intact the surrounding rocks.
The means used to extract the ore were the pickaxe, the hammer, the chisel and the leather or knitted with wicker bags. Due to the fledge type of minerals, the galleries are of irregular direction and dimensions. The extent of the development of the above projects was limited by the minerals and the location of the aquifer. The exceptionally low labor costs and the great value of ores at the time, allowed the economic exploitation of deposits of much smaller dimensions than those that are exploited today.
However, the knowledge of the ancient time seems to have been highly developed, as evidenced by the absence of ores in areas that had been exploited. The metallurgical processing of the extracted ore was done on the spot in furnaces of a use or continuous operation using charcoal as a heating and reducing medium. The positions of the charcoal kilns were in sloping areas, in order to be easy to remove the produced slag with gravity.
The history thought centuries
Based on historical sources (Herodotus) the initiation of the above activity is traced to the principles of classical Antiquity (C. Sagui 1928). From the findings in ancient holdings of coins with the head of Philip II or M. Alexandrou it is concluded that the mines were active at that time. The mining activity continued until the Roman period. However, the conquest by the Romans of Spain's rich gold and silver mines resulted in the mines of northeast Chalkidiki falling into decline.
The exploitation of the mines revived during the Byzantine period. The mining center of the region during this period was the Sidirokafsia (commonly in Greek SIDEROKAPSA), as was called Area B by Isboro (Stratoniki). The name Sidirokafsia is answered for the first time in the 9th century.
With the Turkish conquest, at the beginning of the 15th century, begins a new period of prosperity for the mines of the region. Thus, the first known regulation of their operation was published by Murat II, in order to follow the rules of his successor, Mohammed II, the Conqueror. The latter provided for a special procedure for the leasing of the mines and their processing facilities to natural persons. The latter were responsible for the organization of production, in accordance with the provisions of the same regulation. The object of the holding was silver and lead. For the smelting of the extracted ore were operating in the area 500-600 kilns. The ukase of 1475 define that the miners of Sidirokafsia had to deliver as tax to the Sultan 1 in 12 Dramia silver of their production.
From the 16th century until the 18th century, the mines of the region know alternating periods of crisis and flowering. From the ukase of 1775 we know that the inhabitants of “Mandemohoria” took the advantage of the mines of the area. So they were called the Twelve (12) villages of the region with the numerous settlements around them.
The Mandemohoria ("Eleytherochoria" or "Sidirochoria") fell directly to the Sultan and enjoyed the right of self-management, such as Ampelakia in Thessaly, with the obligation to deliver as tax 550 lb. of silver per year. For this purpose they had established a mining cooperative, in the general administration of which only the representatives of the 12 large villages were involved. They elected four lords, in Turkish “bekelides”, and a secretary every year. The seat of the cooperative was the Machalas (Stagira). In Arabic, it means village, center. The only Turks in the region were Madem Aga and twenty soldiers, who made the decisions of the lords (bekelides). Madem Aga had the management of the mines and was residing in a stone tower in Mahala, the ruins of which are preserved until today. When later due to low quality of the ore production of the mines, the inhabitants of Mademochoria preferred in order to maintain their autonomy paid at their own expense the above tax buying and melting silver Spanish fives. After the failure of the 1821 revolution, the Mandemohoria lost their autonomy. Madem Aga gained absolute power of life and death over residents, who were forced to pay taxes, such as hike and tithes. The mining cooperative was dissolved and under constantly deteriorating conditions soon the mines of the area interrupted their operation (Vakalopoulos).
Modern mining history
The mining activity resumed in the wider area of the mines of Kassandra during the last decade of 19th century. The exploitation of mines in the area was granted to individuals with Othman state ukases in which the most important were Henry Misrachi and Nicholas Psycharis who possessed 70% and 20% respectively of the total area of the then known mining concessions. The latter, in 1893 with the approval of the Ottoman Ministry of Mines and Forests, transferred their rights in the "Franco-Ottoman S.A. of the mines of Kassandra", which was active in the production of manganese ore. Until 1908, when the company ceased its operation due to the competition from the manganese ores of the Black Sea, it produced 800,000 tons 30-40% Μn.
It is noteworthy that in the region between black stones and Stagira and during the in-depth advance of the exploitation of manganese minerals were answered ancient work in areas of transition to minerals rich in gold and silver, which have been exploited in recent years.
In 1927 and 1928 the above mines with approval of the Minister of National Economy transferred in A.E.E.CH.P. and L. (with the Year of Foundation in 1909) and thus created the Department of Mines of the company under the name "Kassandra Mines". From then, until 1976, A.E.E.CH.P. & L. with the continuous expansion of its mineral rights in the region, it acquired the ownership of a significant part of the mineral wealth of NE Chalcidice. Initially the activity of the company focused on the exploitation of the pyrite of Mantem pit (position Chevalier), which constituted the raw material for the production after roasting sulfuric acid. The ore, which mined existed hydromechanical enrichment in a unit installed in the Bay of Stratoni.
In 1953, A.E.E.CH.P. & L. Began the operation of the mine of Mantem Pit and the 1957 of the mine of black stones with the production of mixed sulphur ores (B.P.G.). At the same time, he constructed in the place of the old laundry in the barracks a differential flotation enrichment plant for the production of lead, zinc and pyrite sulfide condensates. In place of the old enrichment plant were constructed in 1971 and 1974 two new working capacity enrichment factories 50 t/h each. In 1974, A.E.E.CH.P. & L. Abandoned the exploitation of the pyrite of the mine of Mantem Pit, from which was produced condensate of common pyrite (standard), and limited in the utilization of mixed sulphur Minerals in the area. In 1972 it began the trial exploitation of the mixed sulphur Chrysoforoy mineralisation of the Olympiad mine.
The ore of Olympiados was working in the Stratoni enrichment facilities until 1976, when the Olympic enrichment factory was launched, with a capacity of 50 t/h. Stratoni discontinued the rejection in the Bay of Stratoni, initially of Adromeroys, 1978 and then the detailed fraction, 1983, of the Swamp of enrichment with corresponding deposition in the position Chevalier of the mine Mantem Pit. The mines of Kassandra from 1987 onwards gradually applied backfilled methods in place of the old method of precipitation of the roof on successive floors.