The 2000 Season at the Orchard Mine
|Emboldened by the discoveries in May and June, it was decided to plunge
some bucks into a semi-major overburden removal at the Orchard. Starting
at the headwall and extending eastward, a 14 foot deep section was track
drilled and blasted to length of 60 by 30' wide. This was the 2nd
round for this part of the pegmatite. A similar effort was made in June
of 99. This time 68 2 holes were drilled and loaded with 1200 pounds
of dynamite and anfo. This work widened as well as deepened the pit. Even
with this overburden removed, the productive part of the pegmatite was
still 25 lower.
Dennis and Missy Holden worked hard at removing the prodigious mound of muck left in the hole after the blast. The removal changed considerably the contours of the Orchard. Even with their efforts, Doug and I spent 5 full days cutting an 8 foot bench 25 down to the productive zone and hauling out the muck. Only on the 5th day were we to begin to see anything beyond small grain rock exhibiting little mineralization of interest. On Thursday August 3 a bench 6 feet deep towards the productive zone yielded nada'-zero.. I left the mine that day with a definite hang dog attitude. Had the bounty of the Orchard evaporated into a non-descript simple pegmatite that you touch both sides with out stretched arms? In the meantime over at the Bennett Mine, a mere 300 away, things were beginning to take a productive turn. Now they could enjoy a little quality time in the hole.
Returning Friday morning with recharged emotional batteries, we again set to work digging out the pit. The accumulated silt from recent rains was adding to the aggravation of the process. After about 3 hours of digging and hauling we got busy hoeing off the bottom of the barren 6 bench put in the previous day. Mary, my wife, who had missed all the fun in May and June had joined us to help in the exploration. Hoeing in the same general area as the June discoveries, just 6' up strike from the original finds, she uncovered a large aquamarine protruding from a pocket formed by the v of two microclines. This was a beauty! The crystal occupied almost all of the available space in the pocket. We rented a cement saw in the hopes of extracting it on matrix. Unfortunately the attachment into the quartz base was badly shattered. The section shown weighs 173 grams and is 3x1.6 inches. Like other recent beryls the termination is complex and etched on the pinacoids and lightly etched on the prism faces.
|Purple Fluorapatite at the Orchard??
August the 5th we put in a very small shot at the extreme bottom at the headwall. Using our electric pump with an attached spigot and garden hose, we carefully hoed and washed the bench . This process readily shows any pockets. After a few minutes we found a beryl pocket with smoky quartz we had been sitting on! This pocket yielded a few small gemmy green/yellow beryls.
Although everything of merit appears along the hanging wall side of the dike, Doug steadfastly predicts wonders to be found on the left. We are still waiting. Nevertheless, Doug found a small fluorapatite in a vug in green/grey plagioclase feldspar. This apatite was of a decidedly lilac color. Purple apatite, of which this may be a faint shadow, typically in Oxford County is associated with lithium mineralization. Since the beginning we have looked with anticipation for such signs. One robin doesn't make a spring ...so I guess we will have to await the arrival of the main flock.
Sunday August 6 was more of the same...cleaning the muck from the pit.
This time though we were down to the very bottom. We hoed and hosed the
bottom in an attempt to view the floor. This effort was of limited success.
Finally we brought down the blow pipe given to us by Tom Ryan. Connecting
it to the compressor, we used high pressure air to eject the final inch
or 2 of material off of the floor. In so doing we exposed 3 pockets in
swift succession. A pocket on the right under the hanging wall yielded
140 carats of the best gem stock to date. The crystal, although broken,
was hardly etched on any of the prism faces. Just the slightest frosting
showed in some places. Otherwise the crystal was transparent and possessed
view veils. Included in the pocket were a number of scepter smoky quartz
crystals as well.
Go to August Finds Page 2
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