Copper has been mined since prehistoric times in the region of Alcoutim, a Portuguese town on the River Guardiana, which is the frontier with Spain, 65 km north-east of Faro. Exploitation on an industrial scale began in 1868 under the direction of Joao Texeira. The workings were abandoned in the late nineteenth century but re-started in 1930.
The museum park includes open cast workings for malachite (copper ore), the remains of smelting furnaces, and a reconstruction of a Bronze Age smelter. Indoor displays cover many aspects the ways in which copper has been smelted and fabricated, as well as collections of minerals.