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Muzquiz, Coahuila, Mexico

The history of Coahuila is closely entwined with mining. This has been the area’s main economic activity since colonial times after the inauguration of the mines La Trinidad in 1577. Today, this location is the city of Monclova. The discovery of the carbon deposit in 1828 was a boost f of other minerals such as copper in the Pánuco mine; zinc oxide, silver and lead in the Sierra Mojada mine; and silver and lead in the Reforma Santa Teresa mine. In modern times a discovery was made that was a great impulse for the industry. The exploitation of non-metallic minerals, in particular, the use of: fluorite, celestite, sodium, magnesium, salts, gypsum, barite and dolomite. As a result, in the last few years, Coahuila has produced 9.63% of the national mineral production, occupying the first place in the production of carbon, celestite, sodium sulphate, magnesium sulphate, dolomite, tin, antimony and bismuth, and second place in barite, fluorite, scalable rocks and silica. Most of Coahuila’s terrain is made of marine and continental sedimentary rocks that date back to the Palaeozoic and up to the Quaternary periods. In the Múzquiz area as well as the production of carbon, there is a series of companies who are dedicated to the extraction of fluorite. Fluorite is a mineral made up of calcium and fluoride that crystallizes in a cubic system. They are commonly found in pockets in the form of geodes or druses.

Fluorite From Muzquiz, Mexico
Luis Lyons photo
Even though in their pure state they are colourless, when mixed with other minerals they take on an amazing range of shades. Among the specimens collected in the Múzquiz mine, it is common to find marvellous examples of the cubic crystals, measuring up to five centimetres edgewise. Even though these lustrous transparent crystals are essentially colourless inside, they posses an incredible purple tone on the outside, which appears to make it glow with its own blue light, when backlit. The interplay of cubes and indigo rectangles offers a fantastical appearance. The name of the city comes from a native to the area General Melchor Múzquiz, who was the Mexican President in 1823. It was founded in 1674 By Father Juan Larios, who built, with the help of the local natives, the Santa Rosa de Santa Maria Missionary on the banks of the River Sabinas. He was only able to sustain the location for ten years on account of the attacks from neighbouring tribes. It was not until Captain Miguel de la Garza Falcon established a military garrison to protect the valley that families attracted by the impulse of mining, began to return to the area. The initial years were difficult because of the harsh desert condition. With the help of Porfirio Dìaz and the investments of foreign companies for mining carbon, the Santa Rosa Valley reached its heyday. As with the rest of the country the industry declined during the Revolution. It was given an economic boost during WWII on account of the demand for carbon from the United States of America. Later, the discovery of fluorite brought with it a fabulous new source of income to Múzquiz. Even though the companies that mine fluorite in Múzquiz are among the leaders for acid grade fluorite, with low levels of arsenic in the world, the majority of fluorite is mined in San Luis Potosí. The deposits in San Luis Potosí correspond to enormous bodies that were formed when carbonated rocks came into contact with tertiary volcanic rocks. Structurally the mineralization is associated with a karst structure where the deposits are due to open spaces and the replacement of calcareous strata.
On the other hand, in Coahuila, the deposits are mainly in seams and renewable mantles. This produces a configuration of INTERLINKED LENSES of variable dimensions. This type of deposit is mined using the sublevel stoping method. This involves the tumbling of ore between levels, which have varying distances between them. It is worthy of mention that the main uses of fluorite are in order of importance, in the production of hydrofluoric acid, the production of aluminium, and the fabrication of steel.