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Malbunka Copper Mine, Home of the Azurite Suns - (23)
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PostPosted: Aug 06, 2016 03:48    Post subject: Re: Malbunka Copper Mine, Home of the Azurite Suns - (23)  

.


2016 2 Fig 7.jpg
 Locality:
Malbunka copper Mine, Western Aranda, Ltalaltuma, Australia
 Description:
PHOTO 7. Atacamite in vugs overlaying malachite surrounded by chrysocolla. Atacamite crystals are also embedded in chrysocolla. Adit Drive Drive, C4.
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2016 2 Fig 7.jpg



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PostPosted: Aug 06, 2016 03:49    Post subject: Re: Malbunka Copper Mine, Home of the Azurite Suns - (23)  

Photos 6, 7 above and 8 and 9 below are examples of Adit Drive mineralisation.


2016 2 Fig 8.jpg
 Locality:
Malbunka copper Mine, Western Aranda, Ltalaltuma, Australia
 Description:
PHOTO 8. From Adit Drive inside roof channel intact azurite piece as mined, 28 cms (11 inches) long with portions altering to malachite. These large often 3D azurite pieces are only found in roof channels in the mine, which are now only present in new roof channels exposed at the Adit Drive. Another reason to keep up exploration driving on this face.
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2016 2 Fig 8.jpg



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PostPosted: Aug 06, 2016 03:49    Post subject: Re: Malbunka Copper Mine, Home of the Azurite Suns - (23)  

.


2016 2 Fig 9.jpg
 Locality:
Malbunka copper Mine, Western Aranda, Ltalaltuma, Australia
 Description:
PHOTO 9. Adit Drive after cut C4 showing copper mineralisation exposed in vertical walls. Note the roof channels from which large azurite specimens were extracted. Tim Hughes for scale and good looks.
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2016 2 Fig 9.jpg



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PostPosted: Aug 06, 2016 03:50    Post subject: Re: Malbunka Copper Mine, Home of the Azurite Suns - (23)  

You may remember in the last newsletter we complained about the storm water entering our DDD workings. The water was supposed to go down to the Adit Drive. Not any more. We now divert the water to two sump areas in the DDD having created a new additional large sump in the DDD area to ensure both faces can be accessed despite vagaries in the desert weather.


2016 2 Fig 10.jpg
 Locality:
Malbunka copper Mine, Western Aranda, Ltalaltuma, Australia
 Description:
PHOTO 10. Outstanding Adit Drive azurite sun specimens before packing.
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2016 2 Fig 10.jpg



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PostPosted: Aug 06, 2016 03:52    Post subject: Re: Malbunka Copper Mine, Home of the Azurite Suns - (23)  

The CLC planned to bring out a group of traditional Aboriginal owners (TAOs) to the mine during T6 and has happened each year over the last 4 years, but it never came off. There was a group of 4 Aranda men related to the TAOs (good guys-Williams) who dropped by out of the blue before sundown one day who said hi, took some phone photos and then took off into the sunset. So we had a sought of an inspection.

We are confident we have minimised the risk of bad people stealing gear left at the mine and look forward to mining in 2017. We hope portaloos are not in demand by the locals.

Which brings us to the matter of mine workers and visitors for 2017. We seek some healthy mine workers for 2017 over June and July who can push rock in a wheel barrow 7 hours a day for at least two days in our 6 day mine working week. Other jobs such as shovelling, jack hammering and undercutting with some collecting are not quite as taxing. Even us seniors do that. This is paid work which if you are a collector has a blue lining to the job. Anyone who wishes to casually visit the mine would need to have their own 4WD transport and be capable of looking after their own camping and catering needs, including water and fuel. We would apply for all required Aboriginal land travel permits. We treat everyone nice but the workers (max of 2), come in with us in our two vehicles, use the accommodation tents and are catered for by us. Due to the remoteness and difficult access to the mine everyone travels in together. Short term visitors can leave the mine on their own when it suits them. Anyone interested in being involved in this unique Project please let us know by email and we can provide you with a draft field timetable which we harden up in January 2017 just before Tucson.

Cheers
Dehne and Maureen McLaughlin July 2016.



2016 2 Fig 11.jpg
 Locality:
Malbunka copper Mine, Western Aranda, Ltalaltuma, Australia
 Description:
PHOTO 11. Sometimes it gets cold at the mine and rain threatens again coming up the valley from the south west. We had a lightning storm one night we had never witnessed before at the mine. Cynthia, Maureen and Dehne by fire. Photo by Ray.
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2016 2 Fig 11.jpg



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PostPosted: Jan 12, 2017 04:56    Post subject: Re: Malbunka Copper Mine, Home of the Azurite Suns - (23)  

A new article on the Malbunka Copper Mine for your enjoyment...


To see this article you have to click on this link or the image:



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PostPosted: Jul 08, 2017 19:03    Post subject: Re: Malbunka Copper Mine, Home of the Azurite Suns - (23)  

Later today, I will post the first news of Dehne and Maureen's 2017 Malbunka adventures.
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PostPosted: Jul 09, 2017 00:17    Post subject: First Newsletter June mining period 2017. The Malbunka Copper Mine Project (MCM Project),  

This newsletter is the first about mining undertaken in 2017 in the desert of Central Australia at the Malbunka Copper Mine 220 kilometres west of Alice Springs by Dehne and Maureen McLaughlin and supporters for the recovery of discoidal azurite specimens on white kaolinite matrix described as “azurite suns”. This newsletter covers the last three mining periods at the mine based on our schedule of 6 nights mine work and 4 nights in Alice Springs. Dehne took a day off during the last field break to support the Creation Ministries outreach at the Alice Springs annual show.

The objective in 2017 was to continue driving down the anticlinal cusp in the main adit based on finds of small and large azurite specimens in 2D and 3D form which exhibited attractive malachite after azurite features with fine white baryte sitting on the edge of small dark blue azurite crystal edges defining the outer edges of the specimens. See Photo 1.



1.jpg
 Mineral: Azurite
 Locality:
Malbunka copper Mine, Western Aranda, Ltalaltuma, Australia
 Description:
Photo 1: Large cabinet 3D size rose like sun with fine white baryte and minor malachite from 2016 mining in the Adit Drive.
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1.jpg



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PostPosted: Jul 09, 2017 00:23    Post subject: Re: Malbunka Copper Mine, Home of the Azurite Suns - (23)  

The mining effort was also inspired by the publication in January 2017 in Ore Geology Review (82 (2017) 170-180) titled “Primary diagenetic copper carbonate at the Malbunka copper deposit, Amadeus Basin, Northern Territory, Australia. Authors are Erik Melchiorre, Dehne McLaughlin (Old Miner), Ralph Bottrill and Jay Hight.

We propose that the azurite and most of the malachite mineralisation, is a rare example of primary formation of copper carbonates. There is field correlation between structures associated with hydraulic fracturing and rich copper carbonate mineralisation as described in previous newsletters. We propose that the copper minerals formed when deep copper rich formation fluids released upwards by overpressure induced failure of basin sediment, permitted mixing with carbonate rich fluids above. The discoidal nature of the azurite discs is considered to be a consequence of the high pressures present during their crystallisation as opposed to the common nodular form of azurite in “passive” kaolinite deposits elsewhere in the world.

As the paper proposes a new type of primary copper deposit and given the frontier nature of the mineralisation model, it makes you wonder what may be encountered as we expose new parts of the deposit in the underground drives.



2.jpg
 Locality:
Malbunka copper Mine, Western Aranda, Ltalaltuma, Australia
 Description:
Photo 2. The mine tent camp 2017. Added luxury of both a men’s and a women’s portaloo tents.
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2.jpg



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PostPosted: Jul 09, 2017 00:29    Post subject: Re: Malbunka Copper Mine, Home of the Azurite Suns - (23)  

Dr Aleksandr Stepanov (Sasha) from the University of Tasmania (UTAS) and the Mineral Society of Tasmania was our young hard worker for the first trip into the mine. Sasha teaches geology at UTAS.

We stripped the old bench and undercut the upper mineralised zone with its LO, L1, L2 and L3 layers and also burnt out three hammer drills on some of the harder rock by trip 2! They went back to Alice Springs for repairs at the end of trip 2. Only 2 hammers were repairable so we bought a new 1100 watt Makita hammer for $770 we had never seen before on the market. This “Sasha hammer only” tool now takes a half hour off the undercutting job if you do not mind sore shoulders and saves the more delicate specialised hammers for collecting work. We have 12 electric hammers with a range of specialities supporting the mining effort.



3.jpg
 Locality:
Malbunka copper Mine, Western Aranda, Ltalaltuma, Australia
 Description:
Photo 3. Sasha with our largest Makita hammer and more waste rock in the barrow. Maureen is photographing a large disk which has been partly replaced by malachite that was found at the bottom of the red horizon. Note the channels in the hanging wall. When L3 moves into these channels large 3D specimens with some malachite can be found as in Photo 1.
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3.jpg



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PostPosted: Jul 09, 2017 00:30    Post subject: Re: Malbunka Copper Mine, Home of the Azurite Suns - (23)  

Photograph 4 below is the specimen Maureen was photographing. They are intermittent sitting half way down our mining face just above the green atacamite/malachite/azurite rich sandstone layer and are unpredictable in their occurrence. Most are damaged in other parts of the mine but in the Adit drive face a rim of thin malachite can give them away.


4.jpg
 Locality:
Malbunka copper Mine, Western Aranda, Ltalaltuma, Australia
 Description:
Photo 4. This 6 inch disc has been lifted out of its resting place for photography. Its sits just above a marker atacamite rich sandstone layer.
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4.jpg



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PostPosted: Jul 09, 2017 00:31    Post subject: Re: Malbunka Copper Mine, Home of the Azurite Suns - (23)  

A common feature of the LO layer is a range of re-solution azurites where often the whole azurite sun specimen has been completely dissolved away… “ghosts”. The space or cast left by the azurite is partly filled by desiccated clay showing that the volume created by the original forceful growth of the azurite in the clay cannot be completely filled by whatever remains.

Photo 4 shows a partly redissolved azurite sun and second specimen where three azurites have been completely dissolved and the caste left with a malachite residue. Many LO specimens of up to 2 inches diameter, and some larger, consist of light blue azurite with partial re-solution and are rimmed by lustrous small dark blue azurite crystals. The new azurite crystals have been able to grow due to the space created by the dissolving away of the original fine grained azurite disc. This suggests that the fluids involved during this dissolving and secondary azurite crystallisation process were same fluids active during the main mineralising event that deposited the bulk of the copper carbonates in the clay profile. I apologise I have no quality photo of one of these specimens for this report but will have one in the second newsletter. Photo 5 gives a bit of an idea.



5.jpg
 Locality:
Malbunka copper Mine, Western Aranda, Ltalaltuma, Australia
 Description:
Photo 5. Azurite and malachite “ghosts” …...re-solution features.
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5.jpg



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PostPosted: Jul 09, 2017 00:34    Post subject: Re: Malbunka Copper Mine, Home of the Azurite Suns - (23)  

Cameron and Tracey Griffiths helped us out during our second and third weeks at the mine. Cameron is a professional shearer with two Diamond Shears on his awards list, is a bit of a poet, mineral enthusiast and wanted to come over from Queensland, hang up his shears and do some mining with us.

He took the burden of waste rock removal off the Old Miner and took on the supply of camp fire wood with a chain saw that had teeth like dinosaurs. Good on you mate. Tracey took on the role of the “paint lady”. We had a lot of non-specimen azurite in L1 and L2 that was not up to specimen quality and needed to be processed for the natural art market. Maureen did art azurite processing but mainly focused on specimen trimming and the large job of specimen wrapping and boxing. There are 6 ways we use for wrapping azurite specimens and all are utilised during the collecting phase.



6.jpg
 Locality:
Malbunka copper Mine, Western Aranda, Ltalaltuma, Australia
 Description:
Photo 6. Cameron and Tracey Griffiths and Maureen McLaughlin at mining face.
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6.jpg



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PostPosted: Jul 09, 2017 00:35    Post subject: Re: Malbunka Copper Mine, Home of the Azurite Suns - (23)  

The 2 metres of face advance we did together resulted in exposure of small to medium size thick discs with showy malachite after azurite features. These will be a new feature of specimens from the mine and we are hoping that this narrow zone persists. We also encountered small lustrous azurite crystals in fractures in the atacamite rich sandstone band as well as azurite impregnated into the sandstone itself. Of course we hope we run into one of the large fracture zones we described in 2016 newsletters as the new 2017 field evidence now says if there are open spaces, the blue stuff will perform.


7.jpg
 Locality:
Malbunka copper Mine, Western Aranda, Ltalaltuma, Australia
 Description:
Photo 7. Another shade of blue from the mine we did not exhibit in Tucson in 2016 or anywhere else where the theme was “Shades of Blue”. We are always encountering different shades. This specimen is more about colour then perfection in azurite clusters. A decorator piece. See our facebook site for the exhibit photo. (Dehne McLaughlin….there is no other dehne mclaughlin in the e universe). That can be nice but also a worry.
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7.jpg



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PostPosted: Jul 09, 2017 00:36    Post subject: Re: Malbunka Copper Mine, Home of the Azurite Suns - (23)  

We have drilled using the 1 metre auger drill, into the floor of the Adit Drive as we have advanced the face in 2017 and after penetrating 0.5 metre of injectite material consisting of quartzite and kaolinite, the hole still ends up in clay. That result tells us we are still in a strongly defined lens of clay and injectite dominated sediment that is an ideal host for azurite.

We have new workers arriving tomorrow by plane. If you wonder about the logistics of people coming its all about preplanning. There is a wonderful guy David Scott we would have like here this year but it was all too booked up. We appreciate your interest in the project and hope you can join us one day while we are strong enough to mine blue stuff~…or at least supervise the mining. We are so remote it is quite a challenge to find good people to share the wonders of the mine and the beautiful scenery.

Cheers
Dehne and Maureen McLaughlin
8th July 2017.



8.jpg
 Locality:
Malbunka copper Mine, Western Aranda, Ltalaltuma, Australia
 Description:
Photo 8. Old Miner and Cameron dropping a L3 layer onto cushions in the Adit Drive. Note the bench on the left hand side. We excavated the right hand side of the tunnel until we met a predicted half metre down throw fault face 0.8 metres from the bench. The fault face is now our right hand support. Photo Tracey Griffiths.
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PostPosted: Jul 09, 2017 05:24    Post subject: Re: Malbunka Copper Mine, Home of the Azurite Suns - (23)  

Hi Steve, thank you for the detailed account of this project. I enjoyed it very much.
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PostPosted: Aug 25, 2018 06:38    Post subject: Re: Malbunka Copper Mine, Home of the Azurite Suns - (23)  

2018 Report from Dehne and Maureen...

Newsletter May to June mining period 2018. The Malbunka Copper Mine Project (MCM Project), ML 29494, Central Australia.

This newsletter covers mining undertaken in 2018 in the desert of Central Australia at the Malbunka Copper Mine 220 kilometres west of Alice Springs by Dehne and Maureen McLaughlin and support workers for the recovery of discoidal azurite specimens on white kaolinite matrix described as “azurite suns”. The 2 month field season program involved 5 mine expeditions on a 6 nights bush and 4 nights recovery and replenishment in Alice Springs. Advanced planning times were important to the project as mine workers flew in from the USA, Hobart (Adam and Tim) and the East Coast. We also had several weeks assistance from our local Alice Springs based paint salesman manager and weight lifter Logan Williams.

The objective in 2018 was to continue driving down the anticlinal cusp in the main adit based on finds of small and large azurite specimens in 2D and 3D form reported in our 2017 newsletter. See Photo 1.



2018 1.jpg
 Locality:
Malbunka copper Mine, Western Aranda, Ltalaltuma, Australia
 Description:
Photo 1: Large cabinet 3D size rose like sun with fine white baryte and minor malachite exposed in L3 layer below sandstone hanging wall in May 2018. Specimen cleaning will reveal if some of the malachite is psuedomorphing the azurite.
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2018 1.jpg



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PostPosted: Aug 25, 2018 06:40    Post subject: Re: Malbunka Copper Mine, Home of the Azurite Suns - (23)  

In 2017 and in 2018 we tunnelled 5 metres each year down the anticline cusp across a 4 metre wide face. In 2018 there was a change over the first metre where the former specimen productive L0 layer (L0 is the lowest layer followed by L1, L2 and L3) demonstrated 95% re-solution of the original azurite sun. See Photo 2 below.


2018 2.jpg
 Locality:
Malbunka copper Mine, Western Aranda, Ltalaltuma, Australia
 Description:
Photo 2. Profiles of L0 casts (ghosts) of azurite suns sitting below the L1 azurite layer.
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2018 2.jpg



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PostPosted: Aug 25, 2018 06:41    Post subject: Re: Malbunka Copper Mine, Home of the Azurite Suns - (23)  

Re-solution is encountered in the L0 azurite layer in all areas of the mine where L0 is encountered but in the Adit drive in 2018 re-solution or ghosting was extreme. There was a detailed description in the 2017 newsletter of this phenomena. By June we were 4 metres further into the face, and re-solution of the “reliable” L1 layer also became evident. Most of L2 became obscure. However, where L3 intersected small faults with 10cms throw in the hanging wall several large up to 8 inch plates of azurite were still found at each half metres advance of the face (Photo 1). L3 also produced some nice multiple assortments of 4 inch suns but quality soon deteriorated. Malachite in the form of thin circular plates became common in parts of the face in the L1 layer and above but specimen quality material was rare. The notorious “paper azurite” also became common. Attractive, but so thin, quality specimens were restricted to less than 10 pieces. The economics of continuing at the Adit face became questionable.

In discussion with mineral collector Steve Scott of Las Vegas during trip 3, on Trip 4 we took a 7 metre step back from the east facing Adit drive and cut a half metre deep, 3 metre wide face into the north wall of the drive. Ghosting became prevalent over a short distance and L3 specimen quality material deteriorated. Specimens need to be cleaned from this new face to pass final judgment on future potential but given what is known about mineralisation in the north limb of the anticline, not much hope is held for reserves in this area.

On the last trip into the mine, we did one more half metre cut into the Adit face and called it quits and put some of the effort we had expended there down to necessary exploration for reserve estimation. Equipment was transferred down the decline to the Down Dip Drive (DDD) which we knew was a good specimen producer. It always pays to have at least 2 operating faces. When one depletes, the fall back can be quickly brought on line and work planned to develop another backup face.



2018 3.jpg
 Locality:
Malbunka copper Mine, Western Aranda, Ltalaltuma, Australia
 Description:
Photo 3. The USA family team in harmony preparing a half metre deep undercut using 900 watt Makita hammer drills with wide blade cutting tools sharpened by the local butcher in Alice Springs and kept in running order by the Pope family in Hobart. Left to right is Steve Scott, Daniel Scott and Bob Callum. Adit face photo.
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2018 3.jpg



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PostPosted: Aug 25, 2018 06:43    Post subject: Re: Malbunka Copper Mine, Home of the Azurite Suns - (23)  

Lighting sources and power lines were already in place and soon we had the mining face and approach tunnels lite up like “fairyland”, according to Peter Whitehead who had accompanied his wife Denise on a mine visit during T5. We produced bi-coloured azurite suns from the L0 layer, paint and some specimens from L1 and L2 and royal blue suns up to 5 inches across L3. Most pleasing were clusters of 1 to 1.5 inch suns on cabinet and large cabinet kaolin matrix which have been in short supply.

Further mining would focus on the DDD as it may have a 3 year life at 5 metres advance a year across a ~5 metre face. This would deplete the current estimated resource. The DDD is in the south limb of the anticline and runs parallel to the main drive but is downthrown by at least 2 faults. However, a lot can happen in 15 metres of driving in this azurite deposit. In addition, the south limb of the anticline steepens quickly from 8 degrees to over 20 degrees and past mining following down the limb shows deterioration in specimen quality.



2018 4.jpg
 Locality:
Malbunka copper Mine, Western Aranda, Ltalaltuma, Australia
 Description:
Photo 4. View of 2018 mine tent camp showing new waste rock disposal area to left of camp over extensive area of old mine footprint.
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2018 4.jpg



2018 5.jpg
 Locality:
Malbunka copper Mine, Western Aranda, Ltalaltuma, Australia
 Description:
Photo 5. Adam Abersteiner and Logan Williams deepening the Adit face floor with a brand new Chinese Dragon electric hammer designed to break 20 cms of concrete. The floor is a half metre thick of tough silicified sedimentary injectite and given Logans size and posture we had to buy a special tool to drop the floor for the taller workers.
 Viewed:  4026 Time(s)

2018 5.jpg



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Regards

Steve
Mineral Collector and Artist
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