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Friday, June 24, 2016

Kalgoorlieite: A new Mineral Discovered in Western Australia

     A new mineral has been discovered at Australia's Kalgoorlie’s Super Pit and is named ‘kalgoorlieite’ after the type locality of Kalgoorlie.

      The mineral, with chemical formula As^2Te^3, was discovered by Dr. Kirsten Rempel, from Australia's Curtin University’s Department of Applied Geology. She first identified the microscopic, silver colored particle in January, 2016, after examining ore samples at Curtin’s Kalgoorlie campus museum.

      “This mineral, while only seen in very small grains so far, can provide important information about the genesis of the giant Golden Mile gold deposit, which is widely contested,” she added.

     The sample was taken from the former Associated Gold Mines which was eventually consolidated into the Kalgoorlie Super Pit which is operated by Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines. For years it stayed in the museum, simply described as ‘gold ore showing tellurides’.

        Kalgoorlieite is the fourth oxygen-free As-Te mineral after benleonardite, debattistiite, and törnroosite. Its mineral class is monoclinic. [A crystal system is described by three vectors. In the monoclinic system, the crystal is described by vectors of unequal lengths, as in the orthorhombic system. They form a rectangular prism with a parallelogram as its base. Hence two vectors are perpendicular, while the third vector meets the other two at an angle other than 90°, seen below in orthoclase.] 

     Rempel told Australian Mining it took approximately three months to have the mineral approved by the International Mineralogical Association (IMA), with the measurements and tests conducted in London. She said the IMA receives over 100 mineral proposals each year, and that most of the newly discovered minerals are complex and have minor differences to existing ones.

     “It is rare to find a mineral with the simplicity of kalgoorlieite these days.” She added that kalgoorlieite was a telluride mineral that is chemically related to the silver and gold telluride ores in the super pit.

     “Kalgoorlieite contains only trace amounts of gold and silver, but it is closely associated with gold-silver telluride minerals such as sylvanite,” she said, adding that it may be possible to find other new minerals in the sample.

      “I think it’s actually possible because telluride is not very well studied and it is easily overlooked. But there are already quite a number of telluride found.” She added that telluride is important for gold recovery, with 20 % of gold from the mine coming from gold telluride (also known as calaverite).

Crystals have class...and so do PEOTS commenters. Are you happier knowing there's a new mineral in town?


  1. Apologies for the later than usual post. Enjoy the post and this last weekend in June!

  2. My friend from S Sudan is visiting Addis Ababa for a PCV wedding and said it smelled like freshly mowed grass. Never knew that phosgene gas also smells like freshly mowed grass or hay. . .

    1. Yes. I remember someone telling me, during hazmat training at Bell Labs, that arsine "allegedly" smells like garlic.

      Smells are certainly evocative. I was told that the odd smell I noted driving through Georgia on I-95 was pecans, though I'm skeptical. I once flew my plane to Lancaster, PA, to buy a new prop from Sensenich, and was struck by how the whole area smelled of cow manure.

    2. And which scientist does the smelling of these gases? If they are so deadly who lives to tell the odorous tale?

    3. That's why it was "allegedly".

  3. I can watch the Monty Python clip over and over: TROTIFY.

    1. 1. It might scare the wildlife away. I mostly bike through the Great Swamp hoping to see bears, foxes, coyotes, etc.

      2. There are plenty of horse farms and equestrians in this part of NJ already.

      3. Wind resistance. Might affect me as much as a swallow. (African or European?)

    2. The wildlife sightings can be awesome. My mom had a large black (?) bear in her front yard last week!

      . . .But you'd be chuckling and swallowing the whole way ;-).

    3. Steph,

      Your June 25, 2016 at 12:29 PM comment brought to mind this Pythonery.


  4. Steph,

    A serious query:
    How many minerals are there anyway?
    New "elements" are discovered and eponymous names are assigned to them... Einsteinium, for example. Is it like that with minerals?
    Do "moon rocks" consist of "new" minerals?


    1. Great question, Lego. The number ranges from 3800 to over 5300. Here's more detail from the International Mineral Association. Up to a hundred new species are added yearly and a few are discredited every year. 1959 is the year when minerals started to be officially accepted by the IMA.

    2. As to moon rocks, armalcolite is a titanium-rich mineral with the chemical formula (Mg,Fe2+)Ti2O5 that was first found at Tranquility Base on the Moon in 1969 and is named for t he beginning syllables of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, the three Apollo 11 astronauts. Together with tranquillityite and pyroxferroite, it is one of three new minerals that were discovered on the moon. There are also a lot of non-hydrated minerals which are also found on earth (like anorthite and ilmenite).

  5. Replies
    1. I predict "New Blue" will be a flop. People might give it a cursory try, but will soon go back to their old favorite, "Classic Blue."


    2. Simple answer?
      Orange isn't the new black.

    3. My conclusion?
      Orange is the new blue.


    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. Gorgeous new blue. Those blue oranges are creepy though.

  6. New post on "Mammals Evolved Three Times Faster After Dinosaur Extinction" is now up.