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November-December 2012

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Azurite Suns from the Malbunka Copper Mine Northern Territory, Australia

Mineral specimens often surprise us with their range of forms and habits, but azurite from the Malbunka copper mine (also referred to in the past as Namatjira's copper prospect or the Areyonga copper deposit) pushes into a new zone of the unusual. The dominant shapes at the mine are discoidal plates of azurite, referred to as “suns,” composed of numerous fine multilayered flat crystals of azurite arranged in radial and concentric growths that occupy planar features such as bedding planes and joints in white to red kaolinite. These unique azurite specimens are mined underground as a mineral specimen recovery venture from an adit in the hilly central Australian desert.

Dehne McLaughlin is a mineral collector and miner with a background in geology, biology, and anthropology, and he consults with Aboriginal groups in mining economics, indigenous resource negotiations, and mine environmental management. He owns the tenement over the Malbunka copper mine for the purpose of developing it as a mineral specimen source.

Ray Grant is a retired geology professor. His main interest is Arizona minerals and localities, and he has traveled extensively in Australia for the past ten years including a visit to the Malbunka mine.

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