The only mine in Europe of coltan, 'the black gold' of mobile phones, is in Galicia - La Provincia


A team led by the Higher Center for Scientific Research, CSIC, has developed a procedure torecover tin from a mine located in A Penouta, Viana do Boloin the province of Orense "and extract, from the resulting slag, two of the metals that the technology industry values ​​most for its chemical properties: niobium and tantalum. These are the first compounds of these raw materials synthesized in Spain in the first and only mine for its extraction from all Europe ", they indicate.

In a press release made public on its website by its ownCSICthey explain that "coltan, a colloquial term for denominating the mixture in variable proportion of columbite and tantalite, is a relatively scarce mineral that contains niobium and tantalum and is part of the strategic minerals forEuropean Unionfor its properties to manufacture most of the electronic devices that surround us, from smartphones to video game consoles, "explains Félix Antonio López, researcher at the CSIC in theNational Center for Metallurgical Research (CENIM).

They add that "tantalum is mainly used in the production of capacitors, since it is capable, in its oxide form, of accumulating electrical charge and releasing it when necessary in integrated circuits."

According to the CSIC, "López leads the ESTANNIO project, in collaboration with the Strategic Mineral and KROWN companies, which seeks to design processes to take advantage of the mining waste from the Penouta mine, inthe village of Viana do Bolo, the only mine in Europe where these strategic minerals are exploited. The Rumasa company exploited this site until its closure in 1982, which caused a large amount of waste with these valuable minerals. "

The CSIC adds that "the rapid increase in demand and the fact that its obtaining is linked to areas with child exploitation and military conflicts, such asCongo, make it essential to achieve an alternative that allows obtaining these minerals in conflict-free areas, in the case of European countries.

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