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Kintore mine minerals

The Kintore open-cut mine is situated along the ridge formed by the outcrop of the Broken Hill ore deposit in western New South Wales. Mines have operated continuously on the deposit since 1883 and have yielded vast amounts of silver, lead and zinc.

The primary ore consists of sulphide minerals that contain many different elements. When groundwater containing atmospheric oxygen encounters these minerals they are dissolved, and new secondary minerals crystallise. Many of these are carbonates, phosphates, arsenates and sulphates showing great diversity in chemical composition, colour, crystal size and shape. Many are very rare and a few have never been found elsewhere. With over 300 species recorded there, Broken Hill is one of the world’s most mineralogically diverse deposits.

Secondary minerals provide geologists with evidence for chemical processes in the Earth’s crust, for example how lead and arsenic are transported in groundwater then locked up by crystals. In order to study these processes, hundreds of rock specimens, encrusted with secondary minerals, were collected in the Kintore open-cut mine during the 1990s. They were sent to the museum for identification and were then added to the mineral collection.

The entire suite forms an invaluable scientific record of part of the Broken Hill ore zone, which has now been completely removed by mining. The data have yielded many research papers and a major book that showcases the beauty and diversity of the minerals.

Chalcophanite crystals with smithsonite
 Chalcophanite crystals with smithsonite

 Agardite-(Y), 2 mm crystals

 Olivenite (zincian)

 Hidalgoite, Broken Hill, NSW
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Chalcophanite crystals with smithsonite on a pillar 3 mm wide, Broken Hill, NSW
Registration No. GG 68 / M 39067
Image source: Museum Victoria

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