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Two small mines in Western Emerald belt of Colombia
  
  Index -> Rockhounding trips
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Bergur_E_Sigurdarson




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PostPosted: Feb 20, 2019 18:52    Post subject: Two small mines in Western Emerald belt of Colombia  

I just got back from a short and fun trip to Otanche, Peñas Blancas and Muzo.

I was invited to see the workings at two small mines.

The first near Otanche.

There the operation is a straight tunnel. They told me that they were on the other side of the mountain where Coscuez was and they were "simply" digging their way to there !

The tunnel is already 450-500m long... almost straight indeed.

They've discovered some decently interesting things along the way (tho I think there is still a distinct lack of emeralds to pay the costs of the operation)
I was shown some nice combos of dolomite, siderite, pyrite, calcite and quartz.
Some specimens had just two of the forementioned... some had all.
Those mineral IDs are of course just based on my local knowledge of what comes out in the area (as well as having talked to a good seller in Bogota, that Fiebre Verde knows well)

I did purchase a few from the mine owners and later in the day a few more from miners that work there.

I'd like to post a few videos taken on my phone from my visits.
(they aren't posted publicly on youtube, but should be visible to anyone with the link)
...oh... and please try and not laugh too hard at my rather terrible narrative and even singing :-P (they're a mix of spanish, english and icelandic)

Also in this first post will be small phone-pics of a few of the specimens from the mine near Otanche.

(the Peñas Blancas part will come later in here)

Walking in tunnel:



Entering mine:



Looking:



More looking:



Checking progress:



Talk amongst miners:



Mining camp with specimens in background:



Walkway from camp:



Path through woods between mine and road (complete with bad singing):



Simple "bridge" using logs:




P_20190214_120840.jpg
 Mineral: Quartz, Siderite
 Locality:
Otanche, Occidente Province, Boyacá Department, Colombia
 Dimensions: Appx. 5x4x2 cm
 Description:
 Viewed:  718 Time(s)

P_20190214_120840.jpg



P_20190214_120734.jpg
 Mineral: Quartz, Siderite, Dolomite, Calcite
 Locality:
Otanche, Occidente Province, Boyacá Department, Colombia
 Dimensions: Appx 5x4x1,5 cm
 Description:
 Viewed:  719 Time(s)

P_20190214_120734.jpg



P_20190214_120541.jpg
 Mineral: Siderite, Dolomite
 Locality:
Otanche, Occidente Province, Boyacá Department, Colombia
 Dimensions: Appx 6x5x2 cm
 Description:
 Viewed:  717 Time(s)

P_20190214_120541.jpg



P_20190214_120505.jpg
 Mineral: Siderite, Pyrite
 Locality:
Otanche, Occidente Province, Boyacá Department, Colombia
 Dimensions: Appx. 5x5x4 cm
 Description:
 Viewed:  717 Time(s)

P_20190214_120505.jpg



P_20190214_120335.jpg
 Mineral: Quartz, Siderite, Calcite, Pyrite
 Locality:
Otanche, Occidente Province, Boyacá Department, Colombia
 Dimensions: Appx. 8x7x2 cm
 Description:
 Viewed:  718 Time(s)

P_20190214_120335.jpg


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Pierre Joubert




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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2019 03:32    Post subject: Re: Two small mines in Western Emerald belt of Colombia  

Thank you Bergur for sharing your trip with us!
_________________
Pierre Joubert


'The tree of silence bears the fruit of peace. '
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Tobi




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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2019 05:51    Post subject: Re: Two small mines in Western Emerald belt of Colombia  

Very interesting, thank you, Bergur. These specimens are really nice, especially the last one.
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Bergur_E_Sigurdarson




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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2019 08:52    Post subject: Two small mines in Western Emerald belt of Colombia  

The few photos I posted do not properly show those specimens
(just taken hastily on a phone)
The lustre on especially the dolomite and siderite is amazing in person.

Those are also not cleaned properly yet (very evident dark dust on quarts)
Just the day after I got from the mine :-)

I have at least 3 more I need to take better pictures of that I can post here later.
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Fiebre Verde




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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2019 10:12    Post subject: Re: Two small mines in Western Emerald belt of Colombia  

Bergur_E_Sigurdarson wrote:
The few photos I posted do not properly show those specimens
(just taken hastily on a phone)
The lustre on especially the dolomite and siderite is amazing in person.

Those are also not cleaned properly yet (very evident dark dust on quarts)
Just the day after I got from the mine :-)

I have at least 3 more I need to take better pictures of that I can post here later.

Hi Bergur,
Happy to see that you eventually went for the grand tour - both emerald belts - within one trip.
Thanks for showing us this unusual material from the Western Belt - overlooked and undervalued by most of the miners of that area.
The specimens you picked are really nice - not exactly a surprise.
Do you have any stilbite left?? :-) :-)
Gérard
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Bob Carnein




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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2019 11:25    Post subject: Re: Two small mines in Western Emerald belt of Colombia  

Thanks for posting these, especially the videos. It looks like a place that's really easy to get to!??
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Bergur_E_Sigurdarson




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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2019 12:36    Post subject: Re: Two small mines in Western Emerald belt of Colombia  

Hehe.... I wouldn't call the mines easy.
Knowing good spanish... especially if ones accent is more Colombian, it helps.
I got randomly invited to the mine near Otanche... just by hanging around the main plaza and chatting with people, so one never knows :-)

But here are hopefully better pics of 3 more specimens from that mine.



sider-on-quartz2.jpg
 Mineral: Quartz, Siderite
 Locality:
Otanche, Occidente Province, Boyacá Department, Colombia
 Dimensions: 39x38x27mm
 Description:
 Viewed:  482 Time(s)

sider-on-quartz2.jpg



sider-on-quartz1.jpg
 Mineral: Quartz, Siderite
 Locality:
Otanche, Occidente Province, Boyacá Department, Colombia
 Dimensions: 39x38x27mm
 Description:
 Viewed:  483 Time(s)

sider-on-quartz1.jpg



ferrous-sider.jpg
 Mineral: Siderite (ferrous?)
 Locality:
Otanche, Occidente Province, Boyacá Department, Colombia
 Dimensions: 52x41x29mm
 Description:
Floater
 Viewed:  483 Time(s)

ferrous-sider.jpg



dolo-sider-spear.jpg
 Mineral: Dolomite, Siderite
 Locality:
Otanche, Occidente Province, Boyacá Department, Colombia
 Dimensions: 64x31x14mm
 Description:
Spear is a mere 4mm at the tip.This piece can be photographed better, but I was trying to make sure the luster was visible.
 Viewed:  481 Time(s)

dolo-sider-spear.jpg



dolo-sider-spear2.jpg
 Mineral: Dolomite, Siderite
 Locality:
Otanche, Occidente Province, Boyacá Department, Colombia
 Dimensions: 64x31x14mm
 Description:
Spear is a mere 4mm at the tip.This piece can be photographed better, but I was trying to make sure the luster was visible.
 Viewed:  482 Time(s)

dolo-sider-spear2.jpg


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Bergur_E_Sigurdarson




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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2019 17:30    Post subject: Re: Two small mines in Western Emerald belt of Colombia  

The latter mine I visited on my trip was a much smaller operation in Peñas Blancas.
The entrance was barely tall enough for me to enter... and only 10m in I was crouching

This tunnel was anything but straight... crossed other tunnels and I could hear others working in the mountainside nearby.
After well over 100m of sometimes needing to almost crawl through the dirt we got to the part being worked.

I was there from about 9am till 3:30pm with the miners... all the time working that small little vug to get out the emeralds shown (poorly) in the videos.
I got the feeling that we ended the day early since we left almost as soon as we had gotten the piece out og the vug (and no more were visible in it)

The host rock there was very hard, and reminded me of the basalt I know from home in Iceland. (Very unlike the crumbly shale I've seen near Otanche, Coscuez and Muzo)

Nearly half the day went on drilling.
When the dynamite was exploded we were just 20m away, in a side-tunnel, so that the main force could pass us by. But we all opened our mouths wide so that any pressure wouldn't affect our ears. (Does that even do anything? :-P )
During the day I could regularly hear digging noises from other parts nearby.
And at least one explosion very close by too.
There are a lot of guaceros operation all over and the whole mountain is criss-crossed by tunnels.... and I'm pretty sure the one I was visiting had crossed other workings at some point (as we passed crossroads that didn't seem to belong on our way in)

As one of the main "associates" of this mine understands that the main value for what is retrieved can be in specimen form, decent care is taken to try and retrieve emeralds on matrix and not just loose "canutillos"

In the beginning of the day, there were just two 1-2cm openings in the wall, about 15cm apart.
As the day wen't along we opened what can be seen in one of the videos... at least two feet vertical, tho quite narrow.
While hammering or drilling, they always stuffed rags around the area where they had spotted the green of the emerald shining through.
In this case, they were all covered in a crust of calcite.
Not sure how they'll try and prepare the specimen to make it look good.
But sadly I fear they will try, and probably not do the best possible.
I did inquire out of curiousity if I could buy the specimen I was there seeing coming out of the ground.
Answer was yes.... but price was about 10x what I could afford :-P
(they had alredy gotten an offer from Bogota, just sending a phone-pic, for that amount!)

I question the legality of this operation and thus choose not to reveal any names... and hopefully it can stay in operation without problems.
(The first post was a properly registered operation)































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Bergur_E_Sigurdarson




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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2019 17:36    Post subject: Re: Two small mines in Western Emerald belt of Colombia  

And finally a few extra clips from along the way :-)

Descending from Peñas Blancas



Descending from Peñas Blancas



Near Coscuez



Near Coscuez



In Santa Barbara (Road junction "village" north of Coscuez)
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