Minas de Passagem

Passagem Gold Mine - Mina de Ouro de Passagem


Useful Information

Location: R. Eugenio E. Rapallo, 192 - Passagem de Mariana, Mariana - MG, 35421-020.
On the road between Ouro Prêto (Black Gold) and Mariana. 4 km from Ouro Prêto.
(-20.392171, -43.439038)
Open: All year Mon-Fri 9-16, Sat, Sun 9-17.
[2022]
Fee: Adults BRL 180, Children (6-12) BRL 90, Children (0-5) free, Students BRL 90, Seniors (60+) BRL 90.
[2022]
Classification: MineGold Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=30,000 m, T=17-20 °C.
Guided tours: D=45 min, L=315 m, VR=120 m.
Photography:
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:
Address: Pincus Turismo Ltda., Mina de Ouro da Passagem, R. Eugenio E. Rapallo, 192 - Passagem de Mariana, Mariana - MG, 35421-020, Tel: +55-31-3557-5000.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1719 mine opened, funded the Portuguese monarchy.
1985 mine closed.

Description

Passagem Gold Mine is the oldest gold mine in Brazil. It also is said to be the biggest show mine on Earth, obviously a marketing lie. But having 30 km of tunnels, it is probably the biggest show mine of Brazil.

The mine is entered on a rather adventurous funicular, which lowers the visitors 120 meters down into the mine. Fortunately, the visitor does only a very small part of the 30 km on his tour.

The mine produced a total of 35 tons of gold during more than 250 years of operation. For a long time the mining was made with a work force of thousands of slaves. They had to stay in the mine for weeks and months.

The special thing with this mine is that it actually operated until 1985, so the tour shows gold mining technology of a mid 20th century industrial mine, while all other mines of Ouro Preto are manually mined and show 18th and 29th century mining. The funicular is also quite spectacular, but for Europeans it's a bit rickety and does not make the impression of being safe. We recommend to visit at least two mines at Ouro Preto, this and one of the others.

Also, all mines tripled their entrance fee during the last 10 years, we are not sure if this is a general thing in Brazil and probably a result of inflation. But it is definitely a problem for local tourists, most are not able to afford these prices. As far as we understood it is often much cheaper to visit the mines with day trips, as those get massive discounts and so the day trip is often cheaper than the regular entrance fees, and transport and guide is also included.

Imagine a steeper version of the Scenic Railway in Raiders of the Lost Ark, plunging into the darkness, antique winding gear, brake, what brake? This is how you enter the Passagem Gold Mine.

Once below you explore one level and visit the edge of the flooded levels now used by cave divers. In case you are concerned there is a well-tended shrine to Saint Barbara to protect you. This mine has great atmosphere, amazing old equipment and a well-stocked rock shop and display. Highly recommended.


Text by Tony Oldham (2002). With kind permission.