Mineral resources of former times
Baryte and kaolin
Both baryte and kaolin are frequently mentioned as mineral resources that are still supposedly being extracted on Milos today. At present (2020), however, neither Imerys nor any of the other companies is currently mining either of these two minerals. The extraction of kaolin on Milos began in 1899 and baryte was first mined in Voudia in 1934.
Sulphur was extracted near Paliorema from 1862 to 1958. In the remote valley on the east coast, complex industrial ruins of the former mine are still impressive today. Here, besides the mine’s galleries, there were also the processing plant, the loading facilities and the accommodation for the workers.
Manganese ore was mined from 1890 to 1928 in the Vani mine. Today there are only slight traces left of the buildings and loading facilities but on the other hand some of the galleries that riddle the whole area are still accessible.
Obsidian was being extracted on Milos as long ago as 7,000 BC. Many sources give different dates, but in any event it was a long time ago when the prehistoric islanders became familiar with the benefits of this volcanic rock. Tools and weapons with blades were made on simple sites from this glass-like black material whose edges can be razor-sharp. The main finds of obsidian are in Nichia and Demenegaki.
Obsidian is moreover covered by an act according to which archaeologically important finds may not in any circumstances by exported. So taking home obsidian from your holiday is strictly forbidden.
Millstones from trachyte
One of Milos’ less well known geological specialities is millstones made of trachyte. This volcanic rock was extracted from a single site in Rema on the east coast between 480 and 323 BC – exclusively to make millstones of great style out of it. This hard material with its porous, rough surface was so suitable for this purpose that millstones from Milos were a successful export at that time.