Midelt The Land of Vanadinite and Selenite

History of Midelt city and Ahouli-Mibladen Mine.

Mohamed Mouhib

7/13/20233 min read

mining tunnel
mining tunnel

At the heart of Morocco, nestled between the Middle and High Atlas Mountains, at the foot of the majestic Jbel El Ayachi mountain, lies Midelt, a beautiful small town that once reached its peak as a multicultural and historic city. Apart from the region's natural beauty and charm, with its mountainous landscapes and warm and welcoming inhabitants, it is a tourist site of extraordinary pure beauty. All the beauty and magic of the Middle Atlas can be found in its welcoming and charming localities.

From Outat to Midelt today In the 19th century, Outat (now known as Midelt) presented a different image compared to other Amazigh (Berber) settlements in the High and Middle Atlas Mountains. Ethnically, the population was diverse. The Aït Izdeg were the most dominant group, forming a detached tribal unit from the main tribe located to the south of Jbel El Ayachi. The Aït Ouafella constituted the second significant group in the Outat Valley. Within these two major human groups, there were several categories of non-native elements, including the Igrwanes, Aït Hdidou, Aït Sgherouchens, Chorfas, Filalas, and Berber Jews. The Aït Merghad only arrived in the region at the beginning of the 20th century with the French entry. The Jewish population of Outat lived a rural life similar to the proletarian Aït Izdeg and Aït Ouafella.

Created to serve French interests Established in 1917 by the French protectorate as an administrative center for the region, three French military columns occupied the current area of Midelt and established a military garrison in Tachiouine. The discovery of minerals in the Outat Aït Izdeg region in 1907 aimed to revitalize this neglected part of the eastern high Moulouya in favor of the more fertile agricultural plains of "Maroc Utile." In 1926, the Ahouli Mining Company was founded by the North Africa Company. In 1928, the Ahouli Mining Company constructed one of the first power plants in Morocco in Ksar Flilou, downstream from the inexhaustible sources of Tatiouine. It supplied electricity to the growing town and the two mines. Midelt became one of the first electrified towns, and just two years later, it boasted one of the first railway connections in Morocco, linking it to Guercif over a distance of 130 kilometers. During this period, the mines employed more than 1,500 workers supervised exclusively by French personnel, and the operating companies made substantial profits.

A town with prospects From the late 1940s to the early 1950s, Midelt took pride, rightfully so, in having all the necessary infrastructure for a flourishing town. It was electrified since 1928, and during this period, the town was clean and connected to a potable water supply. The roads were paved, clean, and lined with trees such as field elms and mulberries. Public buildings representing all government ministries were constructed in a European style. The town had its bank, cafes, restaurants, cinema, library, schools, hospital built in 1952, dance hall, and hotels. All of this was done in a French style, and the town's orderly layout impressed visitors. The 1949 "Blue Guide" echoed the quaint and elegant aspect of Midelt, stating: "Population of 4,356 inhabitants, including 667 Europeans and 832 Jews. While strolling through the old neighborhoods, one can find numerous individual houses built in the purest French style of the time, with their red-tiled roofs. In an old kasbah nearby, there is a workshop of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary for carpet manufacturing."

During this period, Midelt was often referred to as "Little Paris." The population of the new small town was composite, multi-ethnic, and multi-confessional.

A mine, a destiny As with all things, there comes an end. In 1975, the PENAROYA company ceased its mining activities in the Midelt region. The BRPM took over the Ahouli-Mibladen operation in 1979. However, four years later, due to the collapse in the price of lead, the mine completely ceased its activity. This had detrimental economic repercussions on the entire region, and as a result, the majority of former miners became unemployed. In 2009, Midelt became a province and the capital of the Eastern High Moulouya, putting an end to administrative disputes between Meknes, Errachidia, and Khénifra. The population remains optimistic, seeing a bright future ahead.

Noor Midelt, a large-scale project Furthermore, we can say that Midelt is currently on the right track. It is undergoing an unprecedented transformation. Construction projects are underway in various fields throughout the province, including infrastructure, electrification, sanitation, dam creation, and the planting of apple and olive trees. This indicates that the town is involved in large-scale projects. One of these ambitious projects is Noor Midelt, which represents the largest solar complex within the Noor Plan, part of the ambitious Green Morocco Plan launched in 2009. Noor Midelt is a project that will be implemented under the Independent Power Producer (IPP) model in Midelt. It will be the largest solar power plant in Morocco, with a planned capacity of 800 MW. Noor Midelt is part of the Moroccan Solar Plan, which aims to develop a capacity of 2,000 MW of solar energy by 2020, accounting for 14% of the electricity production mix.