Variscan has targeted Europe due to its favourable geology (notably rocks from the Variscan period), strong mineral endowment, good infrastructure and relatively modest sovereign risk.

Europe has a long and rich history of mining stretching from pre early Greek and Roman times through to the present day and is well endowed with mineral deposits that have helped to dramatically shape the history of the region. Mineral deposits which have been a crucial part of the development and industrialization of the Europe include –

  • the rich silver deposits of Laurion on the Greek Attica coast,
  • the world-class copper, silver and iron deposits of Rio Tinto which were the most important source of metals for the Roman empire,
  • the tin deposits of Cornwall, source of much raw material used in the Bronze age,
  • the rich silver/copper/lead deposits of Rammelsberg which were an indispensable factor in the European resurgence after the Dark Ages, the Renaissance.

The majority of western Europe’s significant mineral deposits are hosted within the Variscan Orogenic Belt which was deposited as a pile of marine sediments and intercalated volcanics in the closed western arm of the Tethyan Ocean starting about 700 million years ago. To the north, this ocean was bracketed by the North American (Laurasian) and Fenno – Scandian (Baltic) continents and to the south, by the African – Australasian – Antarctic continent (Gondwana). From about 340 million years ago, the three continents collided to form the Supercontinent “Pangea” which, in an event similar to that which formed the modern Himalayan mountains, created the Variscan mountain chain extending across most of the present European continent.

This protracted global geologic tectonism resulted in the generation of several important metallogenic events which gave rise to groups of large metal deposits and world famous mining districts.


Europe image

Significant mineral deposits of the Variscan time period in Europe


By any metric, the overall metal endowment of Europe is impressive, especially considering that much of the continent, with the exception of Sweden, Finland and Spain, has remained largely unexplored over the last 20-30 years due to a combination of economics and political issues. Countries considered to have strong geological potential to host additional major mineral deposits include Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, France, Hungary, Serbia, Greece and Macedonia.


Principal minerals deposits and metallogenic regions in France

Principal mineral deposits and metallogenic regions in France


Despite this obvious endowment and capacity to potentially produce large quantities of important and strategic metals, mining in Europe is relatively underdeveloped. Modern Europe currently consumes approximately 30% of world mineral production but only produces about 3%, with some of countries having virtually no mineral mining.


One of the key regions of interest for Variscan is France. Formerly one of the larger European producers of metals such as lead-zinc-silver, gold and uranium, production and interest in mining within France declined rapidly from about the mid 1980’s. The last significant mineral mine closed in 2002 with no new exploration licences granted for more than two decades. Large parts of the main mineral provinces of France are essentially unexplored, with little modern exploration or application of recent advances in the concepts of ore deposit formation.

Variscan currently has seven granted exploration licences, six in Brittany (Merléac, St Pierre, Beaulieu, Loc Envel, Silfiac, Tennie) and Couflens in the Pyrenees.


France diagram



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