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Arenys de Mar Museum. Mollfulleda Mineralogy Museum

The minerals of Catalonia

Tartareu Aerinite. Photo: Lisard Torró.

Tartareu Aerinite. Photo: Lisard Torró.

The history of mining in Catalonia goes back a long time, and even when it might seem of little importance, there are various museums and open mines as well as this very exhibition, that prove the importance it had.

The mining in Catalonia had started already during the Neolithic era. In the “Can Tintorer de Gavà” mine, variscita was extracted to be used for ornamental purposes. This mine is one of the most ancient passage mines in Europe (3500. B.C.). In the salty valley in Cardona, salt has also been extracted since the times of the Neolithic era and in the Roman times, Pliny spoke of the Salt Mountain as a natural wonder.

The presence of the Roman Empire in Tarraco was also linked to the mining in Bellmunt and in Falset, in the Priorat region, where silver and galena ore to make lead were being extracted.

In the middle Ages the extraction of silver continued. The iron industry was also very important. This mineral was obtained from the mining of magnetite in Les Ferreres de les Borges del Camp, or goethite from Can Palomeres in Malgrat.

The important iron industry in the area of Ripoll was linked to mining in the area of the Pyrenees mountains, which was working throughout the centuries. These mines were revived again in the nineteenth century with the industrialization of Catalonia.

A special mineral is the aerinite, a blue mineral which almost does not exist outside Catalonia and which was used as a pigment. Thanks to this mineral the wonderful Romanesque paintings were created in the Vall de Boí.

Since the eighteenth century, in the area of Berguedà, coal mines were operating, however, they reached their great development during the nineteenth century. Today, this history can be seen in the Museum of Mining in Cercs.

In 1985 , the exploitation of coal in the area of Fumanya, in the Alt Berguedà county, uncovered an important site full of dinosaur footprints on a limestone wall inclined about 60 ° to the western boundary of the farm .

The industrialization of Catalonia started the mining in the Maresme region. There were copper mines in Hortsavinyà and iron mines in Can Palomeres, where wonderful specimens of aragonite were extracted.

In addition to the industrial exploitation linked to the industry in Catalonia, some beautiful specimens had been found here and they are highly prized by collectors. This group include the green fluorites from the Berta mine in Sant Cugat del Vallès.

In the twentieth century, deposits of potash were discovered at el Bages (Cardona, Súria, Sallent, Balsareny). They were obtained from sylvite and carnallite mineral and were used in the production of mineral fertilizers.


<p><em>Fluorite</em>, El Papiol (Catalonia). Arenys de Mar Museum, inventory no. 5211. Photo&nbsp;by Joaquim Callen.</p>
<p><em>Halite</em>, rock salt from the mines of Cardona. Photo by&nbsp;Joaquim Callen.</p>
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