Mineral species are examples of the first description of a new mineral. Comprehensive scientific investigations on these minerals have led to the determination of a new mineral with its own name. The Natural History Museum Basel currently has 29 type minerals.

Since around 1960, all suggestions for new descriptions of minerals have had to be submitted to the specially created Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification (CNMNC). Its global experts scrutinise the suggestions in detail before they are either accepted or rejected. A new mineral can only be published if the commission gives its approval.

The type material must only be stored in a recognised scientific institution, such as a large museum or university department, where it is available at all times for comparison or study purposes.

A total of 78 mineral species have been described for Switzerland (as of September 2015). The Natural History Museum Basel currently holds 32 mineral species of primarily Swiss origin or from neighbouring areas of Italy. The majority of these minerals are sulfides, sulfosalts and arsenic oxides from the Binn Valley (Valais).