Galena

Specimen from the Beaverdell Mine, with acanthite and quartz.

Galena is the main ore mineral for lead. Because of its relatively low melting temperature it can be easily smelted and has been used as a source of lead since ancient times. Galena has a cubic crystal system and can often be found as cubes or octahedra. Its shiny grey metallic lustre and heavy, dense nature make it easy to recognize. Galena often contains small amounts of silver, which add to its economic value.

This specimen also contains quartz, a common gangue (waste) mineral, and acanthite, a dark grey metallic silver sulphide mineral.

This sample is from the Beaverdell mining area (also called a mining camp because of the numerous mineral deposits there) about 25 km east of Penticton. The area is known for its rich silver veins, which alongside silver also contain galena, seen here, and sphalerite, an important zinc ore mineral. Important mines in the area are the Beaverdell, Wellington and Sally mines. The Beaverdell mine is actually two mines close together, the Lass and Bell mines.

In the Beaverdell mining camp, the whole mineral system is very long: 3 km or so, but only about 800 m wide. The thickest silver veins are about 15 cm wide and contain quartz and other minerals. The ground is very broken up by faults, so individual veins only run for short distances before ending. This makes mining very difficult, but the richness of the veins made miners persevere!

The whole area produced large amounts of silver. Of all the mines there, the Beaverdell mine was the longest-running mine, producing ore from 1913 to 1991. During that time, 1,198,829 tonnes of ore were mined, from which 1,076,005,759 grams silver, 520,197 grams gold, 11,598,238 kilograms lead, 13,900,078 kilograms zinc and 58,171 kilograms cadmium were recovered.

Specimen Information

Store: Pacific Museum of the Earth, University of British Columbia

Collection: Sutton-Thompson Collection

Accession #: S74-1068

Primary Mineral: Galena

Secondary Mineral: Quartz and Acanthite

Site Locality: Beaverdell Mine

Location: Beaverdell, British Columbia

Special Features: n/a

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