Gold with galena, laumontite and sphalerite from the White Star Mine, Zeballos, Vancouver Island.

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.

This sample is from the White Star Mine, near Zeballos on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Gold was mined at White Star from the 1930s to 1950s and is found in quartz veins with other ore minerals sphalerite and galena, as well as pyrite. Five main veins were mined there. This sample is from the Number One vein, which with the Number Two vein produced most of the mine’s gold. The individual veins are narrow, just 3-30 cm wide.

The White Star Mine is one of several mines in the Zeballos area and is known for its well-formed gold crystals, which are visible in this sample.

This sample also contains several other minerals as well as gold: silver-grey galena, an important lead ore; brown sphalerite, the most common zinc ore; and grey-white quartz. Powdery white laumontite can also be seen. Laumontite is a member of the zeolite group of minerals, which are commonly found in igneous rocks or produced artificially and used in industrial applications such as water purification.

Between 1935 and 1957, White Star produced 221 kilograms of gold, 92.5 kilograms of silver, 30 kilograms of zinc, 14.1 tonnes of lead and 1.6 tonnes of copper.


Specimen Information

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

Collection: Sutton-Thompson Collection

Accession #: S75-4351

Primary Mineral: Gold

Secondary Mineral: Galena, Laumontite, Sphalerite

Site Locality: White Star Mine

Location: Zeballos, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Special Features: n/a

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