Portugal has been one of the biggest producer of mined copper in the EU, and provided a large amount of beryl, ferroalloys, tin, and tungsten. Portugal’s mineral industry was relatively small, yet the nation does have a rich variety of minerals present.
The Panasqueira mine was one of the world’s biggest producers of tungsten outside of China. Minerals were one of the nation’s changing industrial sectors, chiefly due to the Neves-Corvo copper and tin deposits.
The Portuguese government has recently allowed private exploration companies to search for minerals within the country, and this has spurred much interest in the past few years. However, interest was at its highest when gold prices were approaching $1900 per troy ounce, and with subsiding gold prices the gold deposits in Portugal may take a backseat to other, richer deposits found elsewhere.
Large Gold Mines
The New Jales mining site is an idle gold mining territory situated in the Vila Real area, in the Northeast part of Portugal. The Jales Mines stopped production over 20 years ago, yet recent exploration into the remaining resources here is being considered for future operations.
St. Elias Mines Ltd. is a British Columbia based company that has obtained valuable and base metal mineral properties in Portugal. The Company is conducting improvements at the site of the Jales gold mine and Gralheira gold deposit in northern Portugal.
The Gralheira gold deposits are situated in the Tras-O-Montes area of Northern Portugal. The mine and deposits are in a territory with mining history. The old Jales Mine delivered nearly 830,000 ounces of gold during its many years of operation, so the area is still likely to hold potential for future operations.
In the Gralheira deposit, broad geophysical and geochemical studies have been done in the area in recent times.
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At the northern segment of the property, the overwhelming north-northwest slanting quartz veins are crossed by a subordinate set east-west inclining veins. Gold is said to occur as “free gold” and electrum in pyrite-arsenopyrite micro-fractures, and as electrum veins within quartz.
Electrum is a naturally occurring gold alloy containing at least 20% silver (often significantly higher) alloyed with the gold.
In November 2011, Colt Resource’s license applications for several mining projects were approved by the Portuguese mining authorities.
Potential Placer Deposits
There are many waters within Portugal that a person could potentially find gold by panning in the creeks and rivers.
Of course the first area to consider would be in the vicinity of the historic large mining operations. When the gold occurs in veins and larger free-milling sources, it can be released by natural erosion processes, and these gold particles eventually find their way into the creeks.
The Ceira Valley and Gois region has been known to have gold for thousands of years. The ancient Romans mined in this area. The River Ceira has been placer mined extensively on-and-off over the years.
Although the vast majority of placer gold found in Portugal is very fine, there are some historic reports of large pieces of gold being found.
The future of gold mining is yet to be seen. It seems that much of the renewed interest about gold mining in Portugal occurred a few years back when gold prices peaked at over $1900 per ounce. Now that precious metal prices have subsided somewhat, it is yet to be seen how much attention will be given to reworking the old mines in Portugal. There is no doubt still gold hiding in the rocks, but profitably extracting that gold is another matter entirely.
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