Until recently, anyone looking for treasure in the Spanish regions of Galicia and Asturias would have been directed to the sea: the waters off the northwest tip of the country are renowned for prized seafood.
However, interest – and controversy – has been growing over the riches on dry land. Buried but apparently ripe for extraction are some of the biggest untapped gold deposits in western Europe.
Edgewater Exploration and Astur Gold, two mining companies based in Vancouver, have invested millions of dollars with the aim of bringing these deposits into production. Edgewater acquired the rights to produce gold at a site called Corcoesto in Galicia in 2010, the same year that Astur Gold took control of the Salave deposit in Asturias.
Together, the sites contain more than 2m ounces of gold, on a measured and indicated basis, but the amount that can be produced profitably is likely to be much lower.
What drew the Canadian miners to the area were not only promising geological findings but also the broader political climate in Spain, which has been scarred by a deep recession and record unemployment.
"One of our mandates was to find projects in the EU where politicians wanted to say yes to jobs, in areas where jobs were important," said Cary Pinkowski, chief executive of Astur Gold.
Mr Pinkowski hopes to have final approval from the regional government for the Salave project by the end of the year, and to ramp up production at the site towards the end of 2015. He says his company has received more than 11,000 applications for the 800 jobs Astur Gold hopes to create during the construction phase. The mine itself will need 200-250 workers.
The two projects are part of a broader movement by foreign investors seeking to turn Spain's woes to their advantage and to find an economy more ready to embrace otherwise controversial investments.