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Almaden

Almadén is a town and municipality in the Spanish province of Ciudad Real, within the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha. The town is located at 4° 49' W and 38° 46' N and is 589 meters above sea level. Almadén is approximately 300 km south of Madrid in the Sierra Morena. The name Almadén is from the Arabic word al-maʻdin, meaning 'the mine'.Originally a Roman (then Moorish) settlement, the town was captured in 1151 by Alfonso VII and given to the Knights of the Order of Calatrava.The mercury deposits of Almadén account for the largest quantity of liquid mercury metal produced in the world. Approximately 250,000 metric tons of mercury have been produced there in the past 2,000 years.MiningAlmadén is home to the world's greatest reserves of cinnabar, a mineral from which mercury is extracted. Cinnabar was first used for pigment by the Romans. Later, the mineral was used mostly in medicine and alchemy during the Arab domination of Spain.The Fuggers of Augsburg, two German bankers, administered the mines during the 16th and 17th centuries in return for loans to the Spanish government. Mercury became very valuable in the Americas in the mid 16th century due to the introduction of amalgamation, a process that uses mercury to extract the metals from gold and silver ore. The demand for mercury grew, and so did the town's importance as a center of mining and industry. Most of the mercury produced at this time was sent to Seville, then to the Americas.
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