Updated February,22, 2015

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Updated May 12th, 2003

What's New at the Benitoite Gem Mine

I visited the mine on May 9th to see what was new.  I had heard that the down dropped block of blue schist - essentially an extenstion of the original mineralized blocks were now uncovered.   I was pretty excited to hear this news as this means, potentially, a source of superb specimens to come!!

Here's a view of the San Benito River canyon about 5 kilometers downstream of the Benitoite Gem Mine. Couldn't ask for a nicer day to be there!!!  The weather past week has been rather cold and wet which means that hunting for specimens will be a bit easier since some of the mud has been washed off by mother nature.

About 1/2 mile from the mine is the King City Asbestos Corp. asbestos mine.  It is easy to understand why there are health warning signs all over the place and why visiting this place in the dry summer season can ultimately be hazardous to your health.  There is naturally occuring asbestos ALL OVER the place in this part of the world!!

Finally at the mine.  Looking up from the south there does not appear to be much happening...

Wrong!  The owner is actively working the old mine dump for specimens and finding them! 

Old mine dump material is hauled to this recovery plant about 100 meters away and washed. 

The rock is dumped into a screen sorter and then sent to the washer where specimens are pulled and collected.   

To see the loader in action with sound and all click on any of the mpg links below:

Loader 1
Loader 2
Loader 3
Loader 4

Next I turned my attention to the new exposure of the blue schist that contains natrolite veins.  The excavator is in front of the hole where the schist is exposed. 

This new block was found after the down dropped fault structure was identified.  Drilling, completed a couple years ago, delineated a previously buried block of blue schist offset from the original block that was mined out.  The area above the fault structure is where the original block was. 

This view shows the pit dug by the excavator to expose the block.  Note, I am standing above the fault structure on the on site of the original blue schist block. 

This shot was taken early in the morning with some rather harsh sun on it looking into the new blue schsit pit.

I came back later in the day when some clouds rolled by to cut the shadows.  The bluish gray rock is the blue schist.  Natrolite veins (white) are found cutting the schist.

Close up of the view above.

A larger view of the pit with the newly exposed blueschist.

To see some pans of the newly exposed blue schist click on any of the mpg links below:

New Schist 1
New Schist 2
New Schist 3

I wandered up to the upper bench where orginal block used to be.... 

There is a small exploratory pit where some natrolite and albite veins were recently found but not enough to warrant further digging.

A view of the small pit and exposed bedrock behind it.  Some natrolite veins extend into this material but they are barren of any mineralization. 

So... while wandering around you can't help but notice what the rain has exposed from the dump material.  This chunk of blue schist has exposed crystals of neptunite and benitoite. 

Here's another one that was "just sitting there" on the dump...

My personal collection goals are to build a fine collection of benitoite from global sources and also a fine suite collection of minerals from the Benitoite Gem Mine.  I came across a specimen of green schist with a vug filled with albite crystals.  This was the one specimen I found to add to my personal collection from this trip to the mine.

This has been a remarkably wet spring - so much so that the wildflowers are out in abundance!  I saw this specimen of Chia in bloom just above the mine about 50 meters and could not resit taking a picture of it.

I am planning on at least one more trip to the mine later this year as more of the blue schist gets exposed and worked.  2003 could be a great year at the Benitoite Gem Mine!

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