Below is an extract of the flyer written by Piritas de Navajun SL, some of the information could be outdated but still a nice text in english about the most famous pyrite cubes in the world.
The Navajun Mine
The Navajun Mine that produces exclusively pyrite crystals was discovered in 1960 by miner Pedro Ansorena Garret. Currently the mining property belongs to the company Piritas de Navajun S.L. which was formed by Pedro Ansorena Conde, Jose Chaver Atanasio and Nestor Lopez Ogalde.
Pyrite is an iron sulphide known from the early days of civilization. In the ancient China was used to attract richness and prosperity, given its metallic shine. In the old days, was used by magicians and alchemists who attributed medicinal properties to the stone. According to historians, in the La Rioja region, the stones were called “Stones of Santa Casilda”and were employed as ammunition for the rubber slings used to repel the wolves.
This “Natural Phenomena” represents the only concentration of pyrites known in the world, with an awesome perfection of cubes and group crystals of large size. Cubes with edges of up to 21 centimeters have been extracted from the mine.
The perfection and beauty of the specimens, true sculptures inspiring artists and architects are exhibited in the most important mineralogical museums of the world, such as Smithsonian Institution, Washington, USA, Germany, Switzerland, France, Japan, etc.
The origin of the pyrites talks about the decomposition of organic material in sedimentary rocks (limestones and sandstones) in a reducing environment, which generated sulphur that reacted with the iron present in the surrounding rocks. These rocks are approximately 125 – 130 million years old and were formed under the same geological environment of the Jurassic sediments present in the La Rioja region. Fossil dinosaurs tracks are commonly found in the rocks of the region.
The size and shape variation of each crystal group, the differences between the angles of the crystallisation axis of each cube and the differential growth of the various cubes, given infinite possibilities of shapes and forms. Besides the individual cube which constitute a work of art as such each specimen is different from each other.
Due to the delicate nature of the pyrites (this mineral is hard but fragile), the extraction work is conducted by hand and each sample is prepared as an individual sculpture. Furthermore, the discovery of a mineral with unique features worldwide, is a fascinating task.
The beautiful village of Navajun, from which the name of the mine comes, is located in the Aguilar del Rio Alhama area and was donated in 1381 by Enrique II to the Navarran Gentile Juan Ramirez de Arellano, Senor de Cameros. The donation included the villages of Aguilar Valdemadera, two beautiful villages located in the neighbourhood of Navajun.
Currently the village keeps the same features from its construction in the XVI century, occupying 16,3 square kilometres of mountainous terrain.
Besides the Mine, the resources of the village are sheep growing and cultivation of cereals. Its population has been gradually decreasing through the last century, from 310 inhabitants in 1900 to 220 in 1950, 152 in 1970 and 22 nowadays.