Argentiera is a former mining town, its name comes from the Italian argento, that means silver. The mine was exploited since the ancient era, from the Romans and the Phoenicians. It was reopened in 19th century by a Belgian company, called "Società di Corr'e boi". The French writer Honoré de Balzac, visited the village in 1838. The most florid period for the mining village were the 1940s. The town declined after World War II, and the mine was closed in 1963.
Today the town is the home of a few small businesses who get most of their income from tourism. It is one of the most important example of industrial archaeology in Sardinia, it is included in the Geological-Mining Park of Sardinia and preserved by UNESCO. In recent years the town has experienced a small boom in building and renovation of the old buildings, notably the old mine.