Promotion of geological and mining heritage (for geotourism and education) in an old rehabilitated quartz mine
Centro Region of Portugal has important mineral deposits, including metallic (tungsten, tin, gold) and non-metallic resources (quartz, feldspar, clay). Near Viseu city there was a mine in a granitic setting that exploited a high volume quartz vein, designated “Monte de Santa Luzia” (Santa Luzia Hill). During 25 years (1961-1986) was an active mine for quartz extraction by “Companhia Portuguesa de Fornos Elétricos”, originating a crater in the hill that after was partially flooded creating a small lake, having a negative visual impact, contrasting with the dense arborisation in the area. No environmental remediation works took place after the extraction of a portion of the quartz vein. Renowned portuguese geologist António Galopim de Carvalho idealized the concept (collaboration with the National Museum of Natural History of the University of Lisbon) in which the mineral quartz is the main attraction and, with the help of Viseu City Council, this project was initiated. Construction works lasted 6 years (2006-2012), the museum was built near the crater, having two floors: 1st one has a library, a study room and a permanent exhibition of mainly quartz minerals; 2nd floor has a permanent exhibition related to “Minerals in your house” and a room for youngsters with “hands on” small collection of minerals and rocks. The museum has a strong educational component that can be adapted to any age, being nowadays the only museum in the world dedicated to a single mineral, quartz.

Resources needed

The total amount spent in the project is around 1 million euros (Viseu Municipality).

Evidence of success

The construction of the museum rehabilitated the landscape created by the exploitation of a quartz mine which resulted in a crater; The museum offers exhibits of a wide variety of quartz minerals from around the world, lessons about mineralogy and mineral’s properties (education on mineral resources).

Potential for learning or transfer

Portugal has a legacy of mining activity that started since roman times and the Centro Region of Portugal is not an exception. The extraction of mineral resources especially in the past centuries had a negative impact in land and their populations, mines and quarries were abandoned without any kind of intervention from the people or responsible companies. The Monte de Santa Luzia was an example of this kind of irresponsible activity and created a significant crater that resulted from the extraction of quartz. With the aid of several people and entities the rehabilitation of the local was possible and its conversion into an educational site rich in geological heritage.

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Main institution
Viseu City Council
Location
Centro (PT), Portugal
Start Date
February 2006
End Date
February 2012

Contact

Alexandra Ribeiro Please login to contact the author.