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Welcome to FineMineralBlog. My name is Bram Hasler, I’m Canadian mineral dealer living in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I'm writing this blog to help inform people on beautiful minerals. Most photos seen, I find on google. Credit for the photos go out to there owners. Thank you for reading.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Great Phosphophyllite


The Great Phosphophyllite Story
(as told by Richard Kosnar circa 1998)

"In July 1977, I received a letter (in Spanish) and snapshots of a matrix Phosphophyllite. I called my partner in La Paz and he drove to Sucre (the real capital of Bolivia according to my partner) to see the specimen. It belonged to a mining engineer named Urquidi who had worked at Unificada for many years. My partner called me several days later, but I was not at home in Boulder, primarily because I was working the Sweet Home mine in Alma that summer. My partner really didn't have a clue about the value of this crystal which was a full 13 cm. long and on matrix ! He knew it was a very dramatic specimen and that it was obviously worth a lot of money, so he told Urquidi to hold the piece until he contacted me. As it turned out, Urquidi was selling his pride and joy to raise enough money to become a full partner in a small ceramic tile factory. Still unable to reach me, my partner decided to go ahead and buy the piece on his own.
The following weekend I finally got a call from my partner in Bolivia who said, I'm flying to Denver tomorrow and I'm bringing the Phosphophyllite ! He arrived at the airport with the piece and the first thing I did when we got it to my house was to put a shortwave light on it. The bloody thing lit up like a Christmas tree ! It looked like a tic-tac-toe grid ! My partners friend in Denver had come over to see the piece and having some knowledge of mineral specimens immediately blurted out, Christ, I hope you can get your money back ! The specimen was actually 7 pieces including the matrix - crudely glued back together. I took a few snapshots of the piece the way it arrived that day with my business card in the foreground as a scale. This all took place on September 15, 1977. Needless to say, I decided to keep the specimen which I later sold to Dave Wilber in November 1978, and he put it on display at the Tucson Show in February 1979. He later sold the piece to Yampol. The Famous Phosphophyllite was mined by Urquidi in 1962. Having been the mining engineer from 1956 through 1964, Urquidi stated that the best of the Phosphophyllites came out from the early pockets found in 1957, and of course, the largest and most spectacular crystals came out in 1962, and some decent pockets were found right up until 1964, when the famous Phosphophyllite stope was closed off with a concrete bulkhead by COMIBOL to prevent any further collecting in that area of the mine. Contrary to various stories Ive heard in this country about the closure of the mine, the fact of the matter was that the temperature in the Phosphophyllite stopes had become very high and due to the fact that there was absolutely no ventilation raises in this dead-end drift, bad air i.e., poisonous gases had accumulated and had killed several miners over the years. Urquidis description of the pocket that was opened which contained the Great Phosphophyllite still burns in my memory and haunts me even to this day. He said that when he and the miners got back to the stope after the blast, the entire floor of the drift was completely covered with broken Phosphophyllite. He said that it looked as if someone had broken hundreds of glass bottles back in the stope! It literally took a few days for the miners to scoop-up all of the broken pieces and T/Ns. I once purchased a plastic bag full of gem twinned Phosphophyllite crystals ranging in size from 2 to 2.5 cm. Since 1979, a number of attempts have been made to reopen the mine. Several by me and my partner, as well as a few more mining companies from Australia, Canada and even Bolivia. The Bolivian government has been quite adamant about the fact that the mine is much too dangerous to reopen and operate, and this is in a country that puts next to no value on human life !!"