Mining at the Orchard and GE Quarries
Oxford County, Maine

Coromoto Minerals
The 2002 Season  at the Orchard Mine
March April

Orchard Pit April 2002
Orchard Pit April 6,2002

 March 2002

Another mining season begins and expectations are high or at least hopes are anyway. Again a mild winter has allowed us to mine late and start early. Richard is much more tolerant of the elements then previous associates, so the very cold mornings are not a deterrent to our work. Perhaps only the equipment complains more.  However, the even equipment has differed the usual gauntlet of obstacles normally placed  in our path to riches. 

The pattern of 20' drill holes placed into the schist and shot last winter, the same pattern that produced monstrous boulders, has allowed Richard to excavate in alongside the pegmatite. This has 2 very positive advantages. One is we can now gently lay down the more productive hanging wall side of the pegmatite and the other is we can muck from outside the pit to a considerable depth. In fact, for the moment at least,  the excavator can now enter the pit from either end. This will allow us to seriously work the original core zone that is now under the road into the pit. Prior efforts to work this still productive region were hampered by the need to muck out from the up slope side of the bench . This reverse mucking proved ineffective and and somewhat unstable for the excavator. We now need only for the Spring runoff to abate so that we can work this low part without being tortured by water....very cold water.  This cold water hampers somewhat the fulfillment of my fantasy of reaching into a water filled pocket..up to the arm pit....and wrapping my fat digits around a huge gem beryl like the ones seen paraded on mineral magazine covers. I know for certain I'll know what I have before I fish it out.  It use to irritate me, as I groped blindly in  icy waters saturated to my belly button, when Doug would predict my efforts would prove futile. These predictions now sustain me. 

Orchard Upper Floor
Now that we have taken a portion of the pegmatite at the eastern end, a few observations can be made. We appear to be working a new core zone of the pegmatite. Massive quartz with sections of rose along with very large microclines imply that it is a core. The core zone is very well segregated into mono-mineralic areas dominated only by quartz and feldspar. What few beryls we have found are either above or below this very blocky area and primarily on the hanging wall side. Near the contact with the hanging wall, small vugs with albites are abundant.  The pegmatite is of a consistent width of 14' much as it has been since the beginning. Now however it dips less than the original core zone we mined -perhaps  70 degrees instead of the near vertical 90.  What started as just a  few feet of pegmatite sitting on the schist that blocked the original course of the peg eastward, has now begun to trend deeper.
The headwall is  just a few feet from a 60'  test bore hole that encountered pegmatite until we ran out of drill steel. Where we are at the moment the pegmatite encounters schist at 25'. This means, if our interpretation is correct, the pegmatite must begin to plunge down the back of the schist only a few feet ahead.. Perhaps the schist is really just a xenolith and the new eastern and the western ends merge at depth as the pegmatite descends the eastern side of the schist. Getting an answer to this question will be the main focus of our early 2002 efforts. The fact remains that  the most beryl rich portion of the pegmatite mined thus far sits 20-30' lower than where we are working at the moment. 
Orchard Pit Headwall August 10, 2001

 Whether the enrichment will emerge as we mine further ahead and deeper is very much an open question. The photo at the right taken August 10, 2001, shows the enriched zone sitting under the emerging xenolith.  As we mined forward, this feature became more massive and descended further into the enriched zone. 

Currently the head wall stands about 24' high . The floor extends back another 25' towards the entrance before another step descends 35' to the bottom of the lower exposure. The first 15' ( west end) of this upper floor consists of schist/pegmatite mix. As the floor approaches the headwall  it grades  into pegmatite again.   In the photos, it can be clearly seen how the schist has displaced the pegmatite left  towards and into the foot wall. 

The zone that appears like core extends from the glacier polished upper surface to near the floor. As it approaches the floor, the core area develops quartz fingers that radiate towards the hanging wall.Orchard Pit Upper Floor April , 2002 These fingers are producing many small beryls in matrix to 1 cm in diameter. Just below, and towards the hanging wall,  thin flat pockets are appearing lined with microcline crystals to 5 cm. Although the source has not been identified, gemmy smoky quartz crystals have been found in the debris on the floor. 

Go to April 2002...some interesting new finds


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June 2000 Beryl Group