New Lead Minerals Update 30 March 2021

29 March 2021

Lead is a silver metallic element with atomic number 82 and in nature is found rarely as a native metal and much more commonly as an ore where it combines with the likes of sulphur, oxygen or carbon. The most common lead ore is the sulphide Galena, a mineral we all quickly become familiar with when beginning our interest in mineralogy. So rather than put together a geographically based selection today, we have opted for specimens containing lead which form an aesthetic and fascinating range of minerals.

It is appropriate to begin with Native Lead, the element in its free natural state. Although lead is a relatively common element in the Earth’s crust, occurrences in its native state are extremely rare because of its strong tendency to form compounds with other elements. The miniature specimen we offer is from the famous Harstigen mine in Värmland, Sweden, with crystals of Native Lead measuring to 0.5 cm abundantly covering a granular Quartz matrix.

Mimetite is a lead arsenate chloride and our specimens include two lovely examples from the Guatomo mine, an abandoned lead-tin mine in Thailand, and a gorgeous acidic lemon-yellow miniature with a delightful satin lustre and bubbly-botryoidal habit from the San Pedro Corralitos mine in Chihuahua, Mexico.

One of the rarer lead minerals is Phosgenite, a lead chlorocarbonate and this specimen is from its type locality at Bage mine in Derbyshire, England. Bage mine is adjacent to the village of Cromford and when first discovered was known for several years as Cromfordite. Phosgenite from Derbyshire is held in high esteem by collectors and these fine crystals sit on a matrix of Galena and Baryte.

The lead vanadate chloride Vanadinite and lead molybdate Wulfenite always add wonderful colour and crystal form to any display. Do take a look at the Moroccan Vanadinites from Taouz and Mibladen and colourful Wulfenites from Ouladtayart in Morocco and the Erupción mine in Mexico.

A big feature of today’s lead-bearing collection are magnificent Pyromorphites representing many classic localities around the world. The most famous of these are the Broken Hill mining district in Australia and what was also once known as Broken Hill, the wonderful Kabwe mine in Zambia. Lesser well known Pyromorphite localities include the Kangiara mine in New South Wales and Ivanhoe mine in the remote mining district of Tenant Creek in Australia’s Northern Territory. And from Stríbro in the Czech Republic there is an unusually coloured and rare habit of Pyromorphite which will surely appeal to the dedicated collector of this species. Creamy-buff Pyromorphite forms a drusy botryoidal coating intermixed with stubby terminated Quartz crystals over a Galena matrix. The botryoidal druses are dusted with pale apricot orange Pyromorphite which highlights the texture and surface morphology.

Although metals constitute almost 75% of the periodic table, all are coloured silver save for copper and gold, lead being one of the many. Yet nature is remarkable and once lead is combined with other elements, a whole diversity of colourful minerals result.

We hope you enjoy today’s selection and this may lead you to investigate lead minerals further, for all together there are 440 valid species. We hope you see a specimen to add to your collection or, for those new to mineral collecting, perhaps add your first lead containing species, but be warned – it’s awfully addictive!

Here is what you have to look forward to in next week's update after our break for Easter:

Friday 9th April - Weardale Fluorite


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Author: JH
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