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In the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Salamanca , a first phase of the teaching collection of Mineral Deposits (mineralized samples and their encasing rocks) of the Iberian Peninsula, created by the USAL Research Group “Recursos y Yacimientos Minerales”, has been exhibited during the 2021-2022 academic year.
These mineral deposits have been selected mainly because of the strategic interest of the metals extracted from their ores. Some of them, for example, tungsten (W), lithium (Li), niobium (Nb), tantalum (Ta) and platinum group elements (EGP), are included in the list of Critical Raw Materials drawn up by the European Commission in 2020, which combines raw materials of great importance to the EU economy (used in advanced technologies, super alloys and clean energies) and of high risk associated with their supply. Other elements, such as tin (Sn), nickel (Ni) and zinc (Zn), are included in the list of Critical Minerals prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey in 2022.
In the Iberian Peninsula there are important mineral deposits from which these critical raw materials are obtained. These include the volcanogenic copper-lead-zinc (Cu-Pb-Zn) massive volcanogenic sulfides that constitute the metallogenic province of the Iberian Pyritic Belt, the hydrothermal phyllonian tin-tungsten (Sn-W) and magmatic tin-niobium-tantalum (Sn-Nb-Ta) granitic dome deposits that are part of the great tin-tungsten-wolframiferous province of the Variscan Domain of Western Europe, and the pegmatitic, hydrothermal and metasomatized lithium (Li) bedrock, very well represented in the Central Iberian Zone of the Iberian Massif.
To complement the physical collection, an on-line collection has been created, consisting of photographs of the mineral samples and microphotographs taken under a petrographic microscope, in transmitted light (TL) and reflected light (RL), on thin films and polished specimens taken in different sections of the mineralization and its encasing rocks, with their corresponding descriptions. All of them, together with the field photographs, have been uploaded to a web portal. This on-line collection allows the visualization of the morphological, mineralogical and textural aspects of the Mineral Deposits, to all interested persons, who have an internet connection.
Both collections are mainly aimed at students of Geology and Geological Engineering of the Faculty of Sciences and related degrees from other faculties, and also to students of Secondary Education (ESO) and Baccalaureate, as well as to all those people interested in topics related to Mineral Deposits.
“If it’s not grown, it’s mined” is a common saying in the mineral resource industry, meaning that anything that can’t be grown, must be extracted from the earth.