In 2014, S&B Industrial Minerals S.A.currently member of IMERYS Group, decided to start a new economic activity at the site of a restored perlite mine in Milos island. A feasibility study and a business plan were initially carried out to assess the initiative’s sustainability. Then, in February 2014 the planting of 17,500 vines of a Cyclades variety (Assyrtiko) in the first 5 hectares of S&B’s vineyard was concluded at a rehabilitated part of an active perlite mine in Trachilas. The Thrachilas mine is still active in other parts where extraction of perlite is still taking place.
Viticulture is one of the traditional, yet today abandoned, economic activities of the island. Historical sources testify that in 1930, 2,200 acres of vineyards were cultivated on the island with a 250 tonnes per year wine production. The viticulture was abandoned almost entirely due to a phylloxera “epidemic”. S&B chose to revive this activity building on a tradition that is already ingrained in the island’s history and testimonials. S&B applies an organic cultivation method thus promoting the protection and conservation of the environment. Irrigation water (invaluable in the Cyclades, which are characterized by long summer droughts) is recycled, i.e. not derived from the island’s aquifer.
The activity also aims to encourage Milos’ residents to begin using more environmentally friendly farming methods. In this respect, free training seminars have been organized by S&B on Milos, educating locals that already cultivate or wish to revive small family vineyards, urging them to start using organic agricultural methods to produce quality local organic wine. At the same time, co-operations are being developed with vine growers and winemakers of Santorini and N. Greece.
The new activity aims also to educate visitors about industrial minerals, abundant on the island of Milos. Minerals are almost everywhere in our everyday-life, even in wine-production. Sulfur used to protect the crop from disease in organic winegrowing, bentonite used for wine stabilization and perlite used in wine clarification are prominent examples of Milos’ minerals used in viticulture and wine production.
Finally, the activity will also serve to attract visitors to the island since wine production is intertwined with culture, hospitality, quality, and tradition.
Impact on Society
During 2014, the activity’s start-up year, the following achievements are noted:
• Two new jobs have been created.
• Four free training seminars on vine cultivation methods have been offered to locals (in March, May, June, August 2014) with remarkable attendance of 60-100 participants each time.
• The new activity has been very well accepted by the local community.
During its official inauguration and blessing ceremony by the Metropolitan of Syros in June 2014 over 300 participants from the local community, local officials such as the Mayor of Milos, but mostly common people, attended expressing their enthusiasm.
In the design, supervision and implementation of this new activity the S&B Group Sustainable Development Department and the Milos Rehabilitation Department are involved.
Working with Organization
S&B is cooperating with an oenologist consultant that provides expertise and also the free seminars to local community.
Benefits for Οrganization
Benefits for the company include:
• Add value to a long and successful tradition of mine reclamation and biodiversity management, taking it one step further in establishing an activity that will also add economic value to the local community.
• Build on S&B’s good reputation as a local corporate citizen.
• Become an additional tool for S&B’s long-standing contribution to tourism on the island, attracting visitors that are interested in wine-making and wine-tasting.