Mining at the Orchard and GE Quarries
Oxford County, Maine

Coromoto Minerals
The 2002 Season  at the Orchard Mine

Orange beryl ( crystal 6 cm) from the Orchard, September 2002

The pegmatite is ' hotting up'
..or so our British friends would say. The promise of better mineralization hinted at at the end of August did indeed not prove illusory in September.

By the end of our August efforts we had again taken the easy pegmatite. Once more we needed to peel off some more of the headwall that remained about half way down the 60' face. Whereas before our side cut  half way down the face allowed us to walk onto the bench, we now had to use harnesses and ropes just to get to the part we needed to drill lower down. The drilling we were able to accomblish safely and with the judicious  use of powder and detenator delays, we were able to effect a decent cast blast. The goal here was to project the blasted material off of this machine inaccessible bench as much as possible. If not successful, Richard and I would be stuck with the backbreaking labor of shoveling and barring the muck down. Fortunately, our shot was about 85% effective in laying the muck down into the lower pit. Luckily too the side walls were clean and free of overhanging material. Only about 4 hours of shoveling, barring, hosing with compressed air and washing with water was required to rendered  the newly dropped bench spic-n-span. Well almost anyway... So after 4 days of this aside, we now had 20' of pegmatite we could work eastward.

At the end of August we saw for the first time in 2 years decent smoky quartz. Starting as just a small bleb around a large beryl, this quartz mass began to grow as we carefully worked our way forward through the coarsely crystallized zone. Although our pit at the bottom is 6 drill holes wide when placed on 4' centers, we had decided to slow down and take our holes selectively. With the holes numbered 1-6 from left to right, holes 3-5 are the hot ones. Generally we shoot 1,2 and 6 and then take 3-5 individually. To further spare as much  material possible the 'insult' of the drill, we drove our holes only 4' deep and used the smallest bits that we had. The well mineralized material starts just below the schist pendant and increases with depth.  In the photo at the right the smoky quartz is visible just to the right of Richard. The original pit floor prior  is visible in the foreground and gives some idea as to the shift in the depth on the coarse grained material. With this amount of pegmatite we could work our 4' bench at least 3 times to the floor Unfortunately, where the hose is visible the grain is fine and the mineralization most unremarkable.

Our first slice forward into this new material exposed another solution etched pocket on the left and eventually large mass of  'black' quartz. Upon returning to the pit after hole 5 was taken, the quartz exposed was so dark that for a moment I thought we had exposed schist. What we had exposed was a material extremely rich in columbite. The small columbite on albite was removed from the triangular vug in the photo above


Continuing to work this enriched area, we opened a small vug revealing the first pocket beryl we had seen in almost 2 years. Although just fragments, their intense orange color along with the well developed columbite crystal got our juices flowing. Each piece is more than 2.5 cm. Again, working forward, the quartz mass expanded in both lateral extent and higher into the pegmatite. Each fluff of the rock exposed yet more beryl. Soon the orange beryl in the black quartz gave way to blue beryl of a deep color.  Some of the beryl is coated with very delicate  black dendrites,  their fern like pattern giving the beryls an almost fossilized appearance. This particular mass had not exhausted its surprises for us. Another light shake and yet more beryl was exposed. This very large dark blue beryl with some gem stock was exposed by Richard chipping on the quartz as we took turns drilling holes to sink the exposure yet lower into the floor. This beryl gave us a temporary adrenaline rush. In the photo, after burning deeper into the floor, large beryls in quartz, orange beryls in the black quartz and finally a quartz pocket is visible at the base. This pocket differs from most others as it is not solution etched. No beryls lost themselves in it however. Not visible in the photo is a very large mono-mineralic mass consisting only of quartz in the flloor. This I believe is our core. At this point we can only look down at it.

Without question this is as coarse and as mineralized as we have seen the Orchard pegmatite in the 5 years that we have worked it. What is truly remarkable to this writer is the parallels, except in scale, to the mineral sequence seen in 2000 just prior to the beryl pocket discoveries. If the repetition is to continue, the area just above and to the right of Richard in the photo above will begin to show signs of pocketing....we'll be looking. Here the beryls may have survived the solution attack that has so far stripped the pockets of beryl.



 42 cm x 8cm blue beryl 

Emptying an apatite, albite and quartz crystal pocket just above the coarse zone

Frank Perham helps empty a pocket 

and a 3cm apatite from it.

Go to October, 2002 Efforts

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June 2000 Beryl Group