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21º Year - 5ª Time - 21/11/2017
THE MONTE NEME AND THE WOLFRAM MINING

The beginnings

Monte Neme

It was in the 1st World War when this mineral, used to harden the steel, was discovered in the Monte Neme. Because of this utility the Wolfram became a strategic mineral that the Allied and the Nazis tried to control. Even though in those years Carballo´s Wolfram was already known, it was hardly exploited. Only one English company was working on Lousame and Beariz-Fontao (Merza).

The Nazis in Carballo

On the eve of World War II, the Nazis were looking for a source to provide them with this strategic mineral. As they foresaw supply difficulties from China and Burma, they tried to find it in Europe, where this mineral is scarce except in Galicia, Portugal, and in the county of Caceres in Spain.

In this way, Hitler asked dictator Franco the authorization to exploit Wolfram in Galicia, as a compensation for military and economic help during the Spanish War. As the old Beariz and Fontao mines were already in exploitation, the Nazis went to two practically virgin areas, the Casaio´s mining nucleus and the district of Carballo. The Nazis created then in Vigo a company denominated "Estudios y Explotaciones Mineras de Santa Tecla" and they arrived to Carballo before the end of the Spanish War.

The Wolfram fever

Monte Neme

The Galician Wolfram had a decisive importance for the Nazis. It was practically their only supply source, fact known by the Allied forces. The Nazis needed the Galician Wolfram to harden their armament and their Panzer. Galicia became a meeting place for Nazi agents willing to get the material at any price, and also for the Allied agents willing to avoid it. The price of the mineral increased to unreasonable amounts and the mining fever began in Monte Neme.

The mining fever attracted to the area all caste of adventurous and speculators, while the Monte Neme was full with miners. Money was plentiful and the activity was increased. The city of Carballo grew more and more, from its 1500 inhabitants in 1940 to 3000 in only ten years.

... and the decadence

The end of World War II meant the end of this first mining fever, since prices fell down because of other countries´ mineral offers like those mentioned before and other new ones like Bolivia. A second fever did happen in the early fifties due to the war of Korea.

With the end of the Korean war, the whole Galician Wolfram lost its importance. However Monte Neme´s exploitation is one of those that resisted a long time up to 1980, it never got back the splendor of the war times. The end of the Wolfram extraction put an end to a period in which the name of Carballo and Monte Neme were well known in all the European chancelleries.

A REGUEIFA, Revista Cultural de Bergantiños
Year 1992, issue 8

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