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.
This specimen is of the amber style and the colour on it is among the most lustrous of any found in the floodway.
This one is a block style specimen. Its called blocky because the crystals are fatter than the blady ones. They are very rarely seen in the amber colour.
]This one is the blade straight through the centre style. As you can see, one large blade is passing through the centre of the specimen. They are very rare and make for a beautiful piece.
There is an example of the sunflower style. They only come in the amber colour.
Gypsum from the floodway is very fluorescent.
This is a very nice bladie one that gives you a good look at the twined crystals.
A quick review on Red River Floodway
The Red River Floodway surrounds the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The gypsum specimens are found in gypsum zones in the clay. While the floodway was being constructed, the excavators dug into these zones and exposed the selenite specimens. After that, mineral collectors started to dig holes down to the zones to collect the gypsum specimens. Holes can be anywhere from 1 foot down, up to a 12 feet down. Sometimes there is no need for a hole at all. This happens when the gypsum zone is right at ground level. Also, the floodway is not the only place that gypsums have been found. They have been found in farmer's fields near the floodway. It is very difficult to predict where the gypsum zones will be.
There are many different styles of specimens that come from this locality. Specimens types include Sunflowers, Ambers, Blocks, Blade's, Powders, Plates, Double Blocks, Fishtails, Potatoes, Elongated ones and Blade Straight Through the Centre ones. Above, I have examples of most of them but for the ones I don’t I will explain now. Powder ones grow in more sandy clay than the rest of the gypsum. As a result the crystals have a coating of powdery sand on them. Plates form when the gypsum grow to closer together and attach to one another resulting in big sheets. They are rare to see because they are very fragile and most get broken during the collecting process. Double blocks are my personal favourites. They occur when two blocks grow together and attach themselves to each other. They are extremely rare. I have seen one specimen that was five blocks attached together, which in my opinion, is one of the best gypsums specimens to be found in the floodway. Fish tails are twined block crystals, also extremely rare. Potatoes are specimens that didn’t have enough time to develop large crystals, resulting in, a mass of gypsum that is typically a brown to black colour that looks like a potato. Elongated gypsums are specimens that for some reason grew very long. Like the plates they are very difficult to collect, so there aren't many to be seen today.
This super piece is believed to be the best silver from the Silver Islet Mine. It measures 11.5cm x 14cm x 11cm. It is on display in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.
This is another beautiful specimen being displayed at the Royal Ontario Museum. It measures 11cm x 10cm x 4cm.
This specimens is in the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Ontario.
This is a photo of how the mine looks today. You can see the old timbers supporting the shafts.
The mine back in its production years.
Nice galena specimen, now in the Robert B. Ferguson Museum of Mineralogy.
Ex. Gene and Sally LaBerge Mineral Collection. It measures 3.4cm x 3.1cm.
The calcite on the right hand side is from the Silver Islet mine and is also on display in the Robert B. Ferguson Museum of Mineralogy.
Nice matrix piece.
A quick review on the
Silver Islet Mine, Sibley Township, Ontario.
The town of Silver Islet is located an hour and a half east of the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario on the Sibley Peninsula. The island where the mine is located is about a mile and a half offshore from the small town. In 1868, the Montreal Mining Company discovered a vein of pure silver on the small island. At the time the island was only 50 metres squared and about two and a half metres above the water level of Lake Superior. In 1870, the site began to develop when the Silver Islet Mining Company built breakwaters all around the island to stop big waves from hitting it. By using crushed rock, the company was able to expand the island 10 times its original size. They built the town of Silver Islet to use as a home base for the miners. In 1878, a second vein was discovered in the mine which was lucky because most of the purest ore from the first vein had already been extracted. By 1833, the mines life was reaching a close, due to the fact that the second veins purest silver had already been collected and the price of silver was in a decline. When a shipment of coal that was suppose to be delivered before winter, failed to arrive, the mines future sealed. With no time to receive another shipment of coal, the mines water pumps would run out power shortly after the new year. Once 1884 arrived the pumps stopped just as it was estimated and the mine filled with water. In the 1900's there were some plans to restart the mine but it never reopened. In the 16 years between 1868 and 1884, the mine produced $3.25 million dollars worth of silver making it the most productive silver mine in the world at the time. It reached a depth of 384 metres. The silver wire specimens that were collecting inside the mine are big, beautiful and among the best in the world. Since the mine closed, silver specimens have been collected by scuba divers that search the tailing piles for calcite rocks. Once they get them out of the lake they examine the rock for silver. If it looks like there will be wires in it, they will dissolve the calcite away to try and get the specimen. But it is rare to find wire pieces this way and most pieces just get slabbed. Other minerals found in the mine are specimens of calcite and galena as well nice piece's on annabergite.
This mammoth ball of fluorite stands 5ft tall and weights in at six tons. It has an asking price of $125 million dollars USD. It was found in the inner region of Mongolia, in China and it took 3 years to craft it into a sphere.
This is a super specimen of hematite covered calcite crystals. It is on display at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Ontario.
This is a beautiful specimen of uranophane. It measures 3cm tall and is in the Bancroft Mineral Museum, in Bancroft, Ontario.
Another specimen of hematite covered calcite crystals. It measures 12.5cm x 8cm and is on display in the American Museum of Natural History.
This specimen of fluorite is 2.6cm and is on display at the Bancroft Mineral Museum.
A quick study of the locality.
The Madawaska mine is located near Bow Lake, ten minutes southwest of Bancroft, Ontario. The mine was discovered in 1953 during some diamond drilling operations. Faraday Uranium Mines LTD started producing uranium in 1957. This continued for seven years until 1964. That year, their contracts to sell the uranium expired and the mine was closed. Operations didn't resume until 1975 when Madawaska Mines LTD took over control of the mine. Madawaska Mines LTD produced uranium at the mine between 1976 and 1982. During this mine's production periods (57-64 and 76-82) it produced around 9.5 million pounds of uranium, making it the most productive mine in the area. The mine has since been decommissioned and is inaccessible to collectors due to the high amount of uranium contamination.
The most popular specimens from this mine are the hematite covered calcite specimens and the uranophane specimens because of there incredible quality and beauty. Other mineral specimens that can come from this mine are specimens of Anhydrite, Albite, Chalcopyrite, Fluorite, Titanite and Selenite. The Bancroft mineral museum has a nice case of specimens from this mine. If you are able to you should go see the museum.
The "Alma King" was found in 1992 in the "Rainbow Pocket" at the Sweet Home Mine.
This is the biggest known rhodochrosite crystal in the world, measuring 15cm across and It has been repaired on its matrix. It is now on display at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
Magnificent specimen of barite from Elk Creek, South Dakota. The barite is approximately 3 inches tall.
Giant serandite from Mont Saint-Hilaire, Quebec, Canada. This thing is huge, being somewhere around 30cm across.
This is a case full of beautiful mineral specimens. Kunzite, Vivianite, Scolecite, Brazilianite and Halite.
The Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall was built from a $15 million dollar donation from Lyda Hill. Another 13 collectors donated beautiful specimens to fill the hall. Its has become one of the top mineral museums in America.
The "Alma Queen" rhodochrosite was found in 1965 by John Soules and Warren Good at the Sweet Home Mine, in the Alma district of Park County, Colorado. Its was first purchased by Crystal Gallery, a company based out of Colorado, for the amount of $2500. Later it was purchased by Peter Bancroft, he was the one who named it the "Alma Queen". It passed through a few more collections before it ended up in the Perkins Sams collection. In 1986 the Houston Museum of Natural Science purchase the Sams collection and the along with it the "Alma Queen". It was a apparently broken while being moved around the museum, but luckily they were able to repair it. This piece has been consider the world's greatest mineral specimen.
This magnificent specimen is from the "Bi-Colour Steel" pocket that was found in 2004. This is considered by many to be the best piece from the Pederneira Mine.
This is "Sharon Stone" from the Sharon Stone pocket found in 2000. The Sharon Stone pocket was the second pocket found in the upper tunnel which was called "Dada's Tunnel"
This piece is from "Keke's Pocket" found in 1999, which was the first pocket found in Dada's Tunnel. They are identifiable by the electric green colour of the elbait and the beautiful pink colour of the lepidolite.
Another beautiful specimen.
This specimen is in the Smithsonian Institution.
This is one of my favourites and it is also on the cover of "The World Of Tourmaline" book.
Here is an inside look at the mine.
Daniel Trinchillo, now one of the owners of the Pederneira mine, first became interested in the mine when another dealer showed him a photo of the "Sharon Stone" specimen. He liked it so much that five days later he was down in Brazil looking at tourmaline specimens. That was in 2000. The mine is now one of the most premier spots in the world for tourmaline.
The mine is located in the province of Minas Gerais and the next closest big city to it is the city of Governador Valadares. When going to the mine, they have to land in Governador Valadares and either take a three hour drive from there or fly a small plane to a near by airstrip which is twenty minutes away.
A farmer discovered the mine in the 1940's after a big storm exposed the pegmatite. He tried to operate the mine to extract muscovite for the war effort but the nearby geologists at the Cruzerio mine said it had an insufficient amount of muscovite to be an economical operation. After that, the mine sat closed for around the next 40 years until the 1980's. Between the 80's and 1990 a man named Dilo operated the mine for tourmaline gem ruff. He managed to collected somewhere around ten tons of tourmaline crystals for cutting. Dino left in 1990 but before he left he decided to back blast the tunnel he was working in. After that a miner named Dada decided to go dig more uphill from where Dilo was working. And he was correct in doing so because he found the second tunnel on the property. That is why the first tunnel is called "Dilo's Tunnel" well the second tunnel is called "Dada's Tunnel". Most specimens on the market and in collection's today come from Dada's Tunnel. That tunnel produced beautiful elbait specimens from 1999 to 2006.
Once specimens are collected they are quickly moved into the mine's main house's vault. They are then given a quick evaluation and a packed to be moved again. Word travels fast in Minas Gerais so they like to get the specimens moved out of the vault in one or two days. They then move them to a house in Governador Valadares where they can have a closer examination and try to rebuild them. They are moved once more to a professional cleaning and rebuilding lab before they are ready to sell.
I gathered all my information from watching Daniel Trinchillo's talk at the 2013 Dallas Mineral Convention. I strongly suggest watching it. It was a great learning experience. I would have liked to post some of the photos of the specimens he showed. He showed many more amazing piece's.
You can see how the colour changes from purple to white then back to purple and then finishes it off with a red top.
This one weighted in just under 200 pounds.
The same 200 pound piece above, cleaned and displayed at the Spring Field Mineral Show 2015
This is a untouched pocket. I know its hard to tell the scale but its about 10ft long.
I have been collecting amethyst full time in Thunder Bay for the last six years and it has been incredibly fun. Two years ago my father and myself bought the old Pearl Lake Mine in Pearl, Ontario and opened up a tourist collecting operation. We renamed it the Bill's Old Mine because the owner at the time was an old prospector named Bill. The mine is unique for the area. It produces a lot of these mammoth size pieces of red amethyst. They weight anywhere from 70 pounds to 200 pounds. They also form in giant pockets like the one above. Most pockets in the other mines in the area are usually a few feet deep, well the pockets at Bill's Old Mine have been known to reach 20 to 30 feet deep. They are more like caves that pockets.