Santa Rosalía, Baja California Sur
|State||Baja California Sur|
|Elevation||59 ft (18 m)|
|Time zone||MST (UTC−7)|
|• Summer (DST)||MDT (UTC−6)|
Santa Rosalía (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈsanta rosaˈli.a]) is a city located on the Baja California peninsula, in the northern part of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. It was named after Saint Rosalia, although the reason for the name is not quite clear since the Misión de Santa Rosalía is not located by the town, but rather in Mulegé, about 100 km (62 mi) south, and the local parish is devoted to Santa Bárbara. (See: Spanish missions in California.)
Santa Rosalía is a port city, and a regular ferry connects with Guaymas, Sonora, on the other side of the Gulf of California. At the Palo Verde Airport daily flights are available from Guaymas and twice a week from Hermosillo, Sonora.
This town boasts French influence, particularly in its architecture. The French company El Boleo founded the town in 1884 and exploited copper mines there until they closed in 1954. They built houses and installed a metallic church building (The Santa Barbara parish) which is argued to have been designed by Gustave Eiffel.
Unlike many other mining sites, the industrial facilities which are located in the very middle of the town, were never dismantled. Of particular interest are the reverberatory furnace and the metallurgical converter, although they are currently not accessible by the public due to safety concerns. Old locomotives, mining equipment and machinery are visible everywhere. The main mining company offices (La dirección) have been converted into an industrial museum.
Boleo Copper Mine
El Boleo was mined by a French company from 1885 until 1954. To prevent the economic collapse of Santa Rosalia and surrounding communities, a Mexican state-owned company (CMSRSA) assumed control and reopened the works using basically the same (rather archaic) equipment and process used by the French. The government funded operation was never profitable, and the mine was finally closed in the 1980s, when lower-grade ore and old technology made continued operation impractical.
Baja Mining, a Canadian firm, began intermittent exploration of the El Boleo mine and subsequently undertook an effort to reopen El Boleo. Baja Mining estimated that the property contains a resource of 534 million tons of ore, containing 0.59% Cu, 0.051% Co, and 0.63% Zn. Baja also hoped to produce byproduct manganese. Baja Mining, in partnership with a Korean Consortium began developing the $1.6 Billion project in 2010. In 2012 however, construction cost overruns reported by Baja Mining threatened to halt or delay construction of the project. Majority ownership interest and control of the project was transferred to the Korean consortium, in return for funding the reported cost overruns. Construction continues, with mechanical completion and copper production targeted for early 2014.
Facts and controversy on the metal church
One of the main attractions at the town is undoubtedly the metal church. Originally built entirely of stamped steel sheet squares, it is supported by a formidable steel structure in a sober and austere style. It has been brutally modified in favor of functionality (its former lateral corridors were turned into habitable space using crude masonry), and stripped of several of its original stained glasses. Despite these modifications, it still preserves some of the original 1800s spirit.
Tradition credited its design to architect Gustave Eiffel and that it was shown in the 1889 Universal Exposition of Paris, France, along with the tower, and that it was awarded a prize. Originally destined for construction in Africa, the French company director Charles La Forgue found it disassembled in Belgium and bought it in 1894, probably to alleviate the nostalgia of the French community who missed the lifestyle and glamour of the European architecture. In the early 1990s Angela Gardner, an American architectural student who visited Santa Rosalía and examined the church, came to a hypothesis that the church design was from a different architect, belonging to the House of Duclo rather than Eiffel's firm, to the dismay of the locals, who believe this would diminish the appreciation of the building. As no historical record or blueprint has appeared, neither version could be confirmed. The recent disclosure of the historical archives to the public by the INAH (Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History) has not provided additional information.
- 2010 census tables: INEGI: Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografia e Informática