Mining at the Orchard and GE Quarries
Oxford County, Maine

Coromoto Minerals
The 2000 Season  at the Orchard Mine

Etched beryls found August 8, 2000.

August ,2000 Page 2

Blue ice?

Pockets with Etched Beryls

August 7:
We decided to gamble on a sinking blast into the pit floor west (towards the front) of the productive zone. 18 holes were drilled to a depth of 4-6' depending on their location in the pattern. A constrained or pinched in blast like this one is always more difficult as the material has no relief-no place to go- and tends to be ejected with more violence. In this case straight up. We knew that if anything were to appear in this zone it would be badly damaged. The results of this blast yielded little in the way of beryl or other interesting minerals. It did show that the zone under our feet consisted of very large microclines with massive quartz pods. No pockets were evident. The main advantage of this blast though was we could now look at the floor under the productive zone without the constant aggravation of standing water. It was now collecting in depression made in the floor.

August 8:
As can be seen in this image from the 6th we still had one bench left in the headwall. As the floor looked uninteresting -we were dead wrong-, we decided to take this bench. While drilling above this remaining bench we had hit some small pockets. Of the ones exposed, their contents consisted only of quartz crystals. Drilling the back bench we did not seem to touch any pockets.
After the blast this segment of the pit was cut cleanly away and lay on the bottom . A few green beryls in matrix were evident. However more quartz pockets were showing  up in the headwall at this level. Some extended quite far back into the pegmatite. On Sunday the 6th while Doug was loading our dump truck and the pit was still quite full of water as it is every morning, I noticed clean water slowly exiting  a drill hole in the pit floor. There was about 1' of muddy water above this hole and the clean water clearly could be seen emerging and mixing with the muddy. Was this just another seam or perhaps there was a cavity present below? In the pit images you can see a pod of quartz in the bit floor just below the tar paper hole plug. The drill hole was on the margin of the pod.

Deciding that this blast had yielded little, we brought in the excavator to scrape out the debris. During this process we noticed the tell tale rusty-muddy material showing up. We immediately switched from diesel to man power to continue the clearance. We had discovered a pocket in the very bottom of the bench that was filled with smoky quartz crystals and beryl. Soon we were at work we bare hands and our 'pickers' evaluating every piece. Here Doug is admiring the latest piece while Mary reaches for another. One of the 36 year old diamond screens from Venezuela can be seen in the image accumulating the material. Just to the left of the screen  are the 'pickers'. All of the material from a pocket is precious and is thoroughly screened for small minerals.  Often apatite and bertrandite as well as pristine acicular beryls show up in the fines.

We continued working this pocket for about 2 hours. The pickings were getting slim and the debris mound was becoming a nuisance. Much to Mary's consternation we decided to bring the excavator back in and remove the last of the blast debris laying on the bench. While my approach is much more 'production' oriented Mary wanted to continue to work the pocket. Soon Doug and I were alone in the pit. Taking only a few minutes to do the final removal, Doug and I were back in with our hoes. Hoeing across a quartz pod sandwiched between microclines, smoky quartz plates began flaking off. Soon smokies were coming out by the handfuls. Lamenting to Doug that this may only be a quartz pocket, Doug reached in and extracted an etched aquamarine of a fine blue color. I called Mary at our 'mine shack' to reconsider her decision to leave. Her mind unfortunately was set. Continuing to work the pocket, we pulled back a quartz plate to reveal a huge etched beryl laying in the pocket. Again I called Mary and this time she relented and agreed to return. The landowners, the Bennetts, were called as well to witness this find in the pocket. Although it seemed like eternity , eventually the cast gathered for the extraction. The beryl was not attached at all for it was later found the it had become dislodged from its feldspar attachment about 1 foot  further back in the pocket. The crystal was quite etched but the upper 1/3 of this 3300 carat specimen was fine gem. The gemmy end can be seen extending into the water. This pocket was found at about 3 in the afternoon. At sunset were were still removing beryl from its recesses. In fact this process continued sporadically for 2 more days.

Page 3-Visitors to the Orchard Mine-more stuff comes out

Page 3-Visitors to the Orchard Mine-more stuff comes out

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