Sewell Mining Town Chile

Sewell Mining Town is situated at 2,000 m in the Andes, 60 km to the east of Rancagua, in an environment marked by extremes of climate, Sewell Mining Town was built by the Braden Copper company in 1905 to house workers at what was to become the world's largest underground copper mine, El Teniente. It is an outstanding example of the company towns that were born in many remote parts of the world from the fusion of local labour and resources from an industrialized nation, to mine and process high-value natural resources. The town was built on a terrain too steep for wheeled vehicles around a large central staircase rising from the railway station. Along its route formal squares of irregular shape with ornamental trees and plants constituted the main public spaces or squares of the town. The buildings lining the streets are timber, often painted in vivid green, yellow, red and blue. At its peak Sewell numbered 15,000 inhabitants, but was largely abandoned in the 1970s.

Chile Sewell Mining Town
Continent: South America
Country: Chile
Category: Cultural
Criterion: (II)
Date of Inscription: 2006

Copper Mine

The existence of the el Teniente copper deposits seems to have been known and mined in pre-Hispanic times. During the 15th - 17th centuries, raw materials were exported by the Spanish and then for two hundred years there was little activity. In 1897 the then owner of the mining rights initiated a survey of the copper seams in the area. On discovering the huge potential of the site, and the fact that extracting the copper would require great investment, an approach was made in 1903 to the North American mining engineer William Braden who had taken part in the Great Exhibition in Santiago in 1894.

Sewell Mining Town
Chile Sewell Mining Town

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Braden Copper Company

Braden arrived in Chile the following year, 1904, and begun acquiring the property. Almost immediately a road was constructed to the nearest railway line at Rancagua. Braden joined forces with E W Nash, President of the American Smelting and Refining Company and with Barton Sewell, the founder and Vice-President, they created the Braden Copper Company.

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