Gold

With Pyrite, tellurides, chalcopyrite and quartz.

Gold is a valuable, highly prized mineral used in everything from jewellery to electronics and dentistry. Gold is desirable due to its special properties, such as malleability and resistance to tarnishing. Gold is commonly microscopic or embedded within or around sulphide grains. Free visible gold occurs as disseminated grains, or rarely as crystals. Crystals of gold commonly form within or around quartz, as seen in this sample. In its natural mineral form, gold is commonly alloyed with silver. Gold is distinguishable by its characteristic golden yellow colour and extreme heaviness. 

Chalcopyrite, also seen in this sample, is a common copper-iron sulphide mineral found in many different kinds of ore deposit. It has a brassy yellow colour when fresh, but can tarnish when exposed to air. Tarnished chalcopyrite has an iridescent blue-purple colour that can cause it to be mistaken for another copper ore mineral, bornite.

This sample is typical of the type of ore found around the small hamlet of Usk, near Terrace, BC. Small amounts of gold occur in quartz veins that contain mainly pyrite (iron sulphide, or ‘fools gold’), chalcopyrite (a common copper ore mineral) and tellurides (minerals that contain a tellurium anion and varying amounts of gold and/or silver).

Usk was originally founded around 1912 as a stop along the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad. The little town was bustling with local forestry, prospecting and berry-picking industry until 1936, when a spring flood wiped out much of the town.

The area was mainly known for berries and lumber, but some prospecting and small-scale mining did take place in the surrounding mountains in the 1920s and 1930s. Local claims included the Nicholson Creek, Cordeliera and Lucky Luke claims on the Kitselas, Bonite and Kleanza mountains within a few kilometres of town. None of the prospects turned out to be profitable, however. Prospecting and exploration has continued in the area to the present day, but no significant deposits have yet been found.

Specimen Information

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

Collection: Sutton-Thompson Collection

Accession #: S74-1135

Primary Mineral: Gold

Secondary Mineral: Pyrite, telluride, chalcopyrite, quartz

Site Locality: –

Location: Usk, British Columbia

Special Features: n/a

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