Once a thriving mining region, the southern
Iberian peninsula, including southern Spain, has been widely seen
as being depleted of valuable minerals. Partners in this project
wanted to know whether new technologies could help in the definition
and location of additional gold- and metal-rich zones, thus helping
to reinvigorate the southern Spanish mining industry.
Based on new geological and geochemical concepts,
a new, money-saving, high-performance testing methodology was created.
New tools were also developed including interactive three-dimensional
modelling software, software for a down-hole system which can recognise
and locate productive clusters, a gas analyser able to identify
gases emitted by these clusters and a laser microprobe mask spectrometer
for mullet-element analysis (Pixe probe). The new system also allows
the more precise identification of mineral sites containing elements
that are potentially harmful to the environment, like arsenic and
The analytical tools developed as a result
of this project, particularly the Pixe probe, have already attracted
commercial contracts. Partners, including geologists, geochemists
and geophysicists, say the project has contributed to the rehabilitation
of an important European mining province, stimulating and supporting
renewed interest among mining companies.