Updated February,22, 2015

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What's New at the Benitoite Gem Mine

I visited the mine on March 31, 2004 along with Steve Perry and his dad to see what was new.  We also met up with Bryan Lees - owner of the mine - while there.  I had heard that the operation had opened up a large pit at the top near the original adit to the mine.  Sure enough, the folks at the Benitoite Mine are on the verge of opening up some virgin ground!!

Here's a view of the mine from across the San Benito River taken March 31st. 

These two photos show the change in the mine from 2002 (picture on the right) and present operations.  Note the pit at the top.

Here's the work being done on the upper workings.  The intent is to expose the mineralized blue schist and recover benitoite and neptunite.

See the operation from across the canyon


This is a composite image of the lower pit.  Last year blue schist was found in a 15 foot trench near the back of the pit. 

Here at the top pit the excavator is exposing graywacke and blueschiste.  The original adit (now sealed up again) is located near the pile of is localOld mine dump material is hauled to this recovery plant about 100 meters away and washed. 

See and hear the excavator and truck in action
See the excavator dig from above

Theese two shots depict the orginal mine adit entrance last year in August, 2003 and as of March 31, 2004.  The adit is located at the top pit operation.

This image shows some exposed vein of natrolite in situ.  The excavator is carefully working the unmineralized graywacke material away for removal.

This photo shows the top workings with exposed bedrock of graywacke and blue schist. 

These two shots are looking down on the workings at the upper pit.  There is a lot of exposed blue schist in place in these two photos.

While roaming the dump I came across a large boulder with a brilliantly lustrous, free standing crystal of benitoite.  I almost lost it when I saw this crystal just sitting there!! The crystal is about 2.5 cm (an inch) in length from top to bottom.  There are other benitoite crystals as well and there are several small balls of natrolite crystals.  Steve Perry and I worked hard to try and liberate this specimen intact but the boulder it was on was huge and too much for a "John Seibel Trim Job".  Hence, we left it for Bryan to cut out with a diamond saw.  I am content (sort of) with the picture. 

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.  2004 could be a great year at the Benitoite Gem Mine!

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