Mining tourism in Ouro Preto
Ouro Preto is surrounded by a rich and varied natural environment with waterfalls, hiking trails and native vegetation partially protected as state parks. Parts of these resources are used for tourism. Paradoxically, this ecosystem contrasts with the human occupation of the region that produced, after centuries, a rich history and a cultural connection to mining, its oldest economic activity which triggered occupation. The region has an unlimited potential for tourism, especially in specific segments such as mining heritage tourism, in association or not with the existing ecotourism market. In fact, in Ouro Preto, tourism, history, geology and mining are often hard to distinguish; such is the inter-relationship between these segments.
For centuries, a major problem of mining has been the reuse of the affected areas. Modern mining projects proposed solutions to this problem right from the initial stages of operation, which did not happen until recently. As a result, most quarries and other old mining areas that do not have an appropriate destination represent serious environmental problems. Mining tourism utilizing exhausted mines is a source of employment and income. Tourism activities may even contribute to the recovery of degraded areas in various ways, such as reforestation for leisure purposes, or their transformation into history museums where aspects of local mining are interpreted.
Minas Gerais, and particularly Ouro Preto, provides the strong and rich cultural and historical content needed for the transformation of mining remnants into attractive tourism products, especially when combined with the existing cultural tourism of the region. Although mining tourism is explored in various parts of the world in extremely different social, economic, cultural and natural contexts, in Brazil it is still not a strategy readily adopted as an alternative for areas affected by mining activities.
(Lohmann, G. M.; Flecha, A. C.; Knupp, M. E. C. G.; Liccardo, A. (2011). Mining tourism in Ouro Preto, Brazil: opportunities and challenges. In: M. V. Conlin; L. Jolliffe (eds).Mining heritage and tourism: a global synthesis
. New York: Routledge, pp. 194-202.)