AGEMERA partners hold GA meeting in Salamanca

AGEMERA partners hold GA meeting in Salamanca

The project team reunited in the charming Spanish city to look at the progress that has been made and set up for success in the second half of the project 

For the AGEMERA team, it's always a pleasure to get together and leave the rigidity of laptop screens and Zoom meetings behind - and when the backdrop is one of a kind, what is not to enjoy? 

Between 12 and 14 March, we reunited in Salamanca at the invitation of our colleagues from Geosciencies Barcelona and Lithica, for a packed programme consisting of project updates, free discussions, lectures, special activities with students, and even a mine visit. This was the third in-person meeting of the team in its entirety (with bilateral meetings taking place separately for the fieldwork, events, and more). 

On the first day, we assembled in the premises of the University of Salamanca, in its centuries-old Aula Salinas (the oldest in the Spanish-speaking world!) and each work package had the opportunity to present the current status of their tasks, key achievements, and priorities for the future. After, we were incredibly honoured to assist in an excellent 1-hour presentation by Professor Juan Gómez Barreiro, who introduced us to the geological characteristics of the area, provided a thorough and often humorous explanation as to why regional geology is so important ("you cannot trust the data as they come out, without putting it into context") and dived into its gold mining history, going back as far as the Roman times. 

Later on in the afternoon, we took part in two workshops, devising practical strategies to help us communicate the project results to wider audiences and maximise the project's impact, especially as now results have started to pour in. We finished it off with a networking dinner where we not only indulged in jamón ibérico, but we also strengthened our friendships, told stories from our past projects, and anecdotes from our home countries. 

The second day was just as busy, but kept us energised all throughout, especially since we've had a fantastic Living Library experience with students from the university, youngsters who were curious about our field and expressed their desire to learn more about critical raw materials and the developments in non-invasive technologies as a means for responsible sourcing. We were also lucky to have Maarit Jokela teach us more about intellectual property management and patenting and took part in a series of round table discussions to explore AGEMERA's research visits, outputs, risk assessment, and resourcing, to identify potential challenges, but also what has worked in our favour so far. Last but not least, we concluded the day with a coveted visit to the library of the University of Salamanca, hosting many valuable manuscripts and incunabula. 

Finally, on the last day of our meeting, we had the fantastic opportunity to check out the Barruecopardo tungsten mine ran by the Spanish company Saloro. Tungsten is a metal with unique properties used in a wide range of industries, from metallurgy to electronics, defence and aerospace. However, at the moment, China is the biggest exporter of tungsten, which is why this metal has been included on the European Commission's official critical raw materials list. 

At the mine, we became familiar with their operations and the efforts they are putting into preserving the natural environment in the area. In fact, the company's environmental specialists are working closely with the Provincial Environmental Administration of the Junta de Castilla y León in Salamanca to ensure the protection of the fauna in the area. 
After this comprehensive presentation, we went to see the open pit and how tungsten is produced. Firstly, the ore is crushed to liberate the mineral containing tungsten. This mineral is then passed through a gravity concentrating process and gets separated with the help of recycled water. The clean mineral is then dried, packed, and prepared for sale. 


The mine visit concluded our fourth General Assembly meeting. A huge "Thank you!" goes to the organisers for the impeccable organisation and hospitality (and sneak peek into the Spanish way of life). We cannot wait to start making (more) things happen! 

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