Elhuyar, Juan José de (1754–1796)

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Elhuyar, Juan José de (1754–1796)

Juan José de Elhuyar (b. 15 June 1754; d. 20 September 1796), Spanish chemist and mineralogist and director of mines in New Granada (1783–1796). Born in Logroño, Spain, to Juan D'Elhuyar and Ursula de Zubice, Juan José de Elhuyar studied medicine in Paris from 1772 to 1777. After he returned to Spain, the Ministry of the Navy sent him and his younger brother Fausto de Elhuyar in 1778 to study at the Mining Academy of Freiberg. Elhuyar's main objective was to learn better techniques for manufacturing cannon, but he also studied geology, metallurgy, and chemistry and visited many mining operations in Central Europe. Back in Spain the two brothers isolated tungsten and published Análisis química del volfram y examen de un nuevo metal que entra en su composición (1783).

In late 1783 Minister of the Indies José de Gálvez selected Elhuyar as director of mines for New Granada, a position he occupied for the remainder of his life. He adapted the baron von Born's barrel method for amalgamating silver ores to local conditions and worked to raise the technological level of the Mariquita silver district. Elhuyar also developed a means for isolating platinum and carried out geological explorations. His work met resistance from both colonial officials and the mine operators. He died in Bogotá.

See alsoGranada; Mining: Colonial Spanish America.


Arthur P. Whitaker, "The Elhuyar Mining Missions and the Enlightenment," in Hispanic American Historical Review 31, no. 4 (1951):557-585.

Stig Rydén, Don Juan José de Elhuyar en Suecia y el descubrimiento del tungsteno, 1781–1782 (1963).

Bernardo J. Caycedo, D'Elhuyar y el siglo XVIII neograndino (1971).

Additional Bibliography

Pelayo, Francisco. "Las actividades mineras de J. C. Mutis y Juan José Elhuyar en Nueva Granada." Revista de Indias 50:189 (May-August 1990): 455-471.

                                     Kendall W. Brown

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Elhuyar, Juan José de (1754–1796)

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