A new mineral has been discovered at Kalgoorlie’s Super Pit, dubbed ‘kalgoorlieite’.
The mineral was discovered by geochemist Dr Kirsten Rempel, from Curtin University’s Department of Applied Geology. She first identified the microscopic, silver coloured particle in January after examining ore samples at Curtin’s Kalgoorlie campus museum.
“I’ve decided to name it kalgoorlieite, after the type of locality – it’s about time Kalgoorlie had its own mineral,” she said.
Although the sample is small, it is the largest amount of the mineral discovered so far, providing an opportunity to understand the origin of high grade ores in the area.
“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 (KCGM). For years it stayed in the museum, simply described as ‘gold ore showing tellurides’.
Rempel told Australian Mining it took approximately three months to have the mineral approved by the International Mineralogical Association (IMA), with all 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 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 studied, it is easily overlooked. But there are already quite a number of telluride found.”
She added that telluride is really important for gold recovery, with 20 per cent of gold from the mine coming from gold telluride.
“It’s very exciting; It’s not something that never happens but I don’t know of many people who have found something new for the first time. I am happy to be a part of it,” she said.
The sample will be displayed in the Western Australia Museum.