Klinker Precious Opal Deposit, Vernon, British Columbia, Canada
Agate, Chabazite, Opal, Zeolite
Source: Ron Zeilstra
I spent a couple of hours visiting the Klinker opal deposit (also known as the Okanogan Opal deposit) owned by Okanogan Opal Inc. during a field trip for the Industrial Minerals ‘95 Conference held in Vancouver, British Columbia. The deposit is located about 40 kilometers by road northwest of Vernon, British Columbia. Access is via 20 kilometers of forest service road and the deposit is at 4500’ elevation.
The mine is privately owned and comprises of six shallow pits. The opal is exposed by a jackhammer and hand digging and is high graded in the pit. Broken rock is then cleaned out of the pit and collected in piles. This material is sent through a device called a grizzly where larger material is screened out and the finer material is visually inspected for opal.
The precious opal and agate are found in an Eocene volcanic breccia-lahar complex composed of angular to rounded clasts of andesite and basalt in a lapalli tuff matrix. Opal and agate fill fractures and vesicles. Occasionally chabazite and other small zeolite crystals are also found.
The opal is usually white, orange or red. The precious opal can be clear or opaque and has green, orange or blue fire. The agate is white/gray or blue/gray and has gray, white and clear bands.
On the day of our visit the cloud cover made seeing the fire in the precious opal difficult. We were still able to identify precious opal in the quarry wall as well as finding seams and nodules of common and jelly opal and agates. We were allowed to collect from the tailings pile, and although our visit was short, all members of the field trip were lucky enough to collect a few small samples precious opal. We then went back to the Okanogan Opal retail shop in Vernon and were given the opportunity to view and purchase better specimens of both rough and polished material.
The site has been described in the Lapidary Journal (February 1993, June 1995) and Rock and Gem (October 1993, October 1994) magazines. The British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources also describe the deposit in their Minfile/pc database (Minfile #082LSW125).
Okanogan Opal Inc. offers fee digging in the mine tailings piles and undeveloped areas which allow the collector to keep a specified weight of material. Fees start at Cdn $30 per person per day. Fee digging runs from mid-May to mid-October on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The retail shop is open from June to October and is located at the Junction of Highway 97 and 97A, just north of Vernon.
Bob and Alana Yorke-Hardy can be contacted at:
Okanogan Opal Inc.
P.O. Box 298
Telephone: (604) 542-5173 or 542-1103
Fax: (604) 542-7115
The Rock Candy Mine near Grand Forks
Barite, Calcite, Fluorite, Kaolin, Quartz and Unspecified Fluorescent Minerals
Source: Ron Zeilstra
The Rock Candy Mine, 27 kilometers north-northwest of Grand Forks, British Columbia, Canada was mined commercially for fluorite from 1918-1929. Although there are fluorite reserves remaining, the presence of quartz in the ore makes the mine uneconomic. The claim is now held by Bob Jackson who mines it for mineral specimens including fluorite, quartz and barite crystals.
The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources MINFILE/pc database describes the deposit as follows (edited):
"The deposit consists of a network of numerous and closely spaced subparallel epithermal veins, a few centimeters to 10 meters wide, in a north trending, moderate to steep west dipping silicified fracture zone.. The zone is developed in fine to medium grained greenish to gray andesite. The main mineralization in the fracture zone extends continuously for 200 meters north of Kennedy Creek and is up to 15 meters wide. Smaller zones of fluorite mineralization continue northward along the fracture zone up to 1 kilometers from the mine.
Surface exposures reveal veins contain coarse grained pale apple to emerald green fluorite and minor pale purple fluorite cut by numerous vuggy quartz veinlets. In underground workings, numerous large vugs, up to 1 meter wide, lined with crystals of barite, quartz, calcite and fluorite or just white kaolin are developed in the veins.
The Rock Candy mine was operated periodically between 1918 and 1929 by Commence Ltd. after its discovery in 1916. A total of 51,500 tons of ore grading 68% CaF2 and 22% SiO2 was mined and shipped to the company's smelter in Trail."
Bob offers a fee dig at the site one weekend in August where you meet in the late afternoon at Grand Forks, drive to the site, collect fluorescent minerals in the evening and crystals the next day. He opens new vugs for his trips. Cost is around US$40. You can camp at the site. Massive fluorite is common, and Bob may allow collecting of this material outside of his fee trips.
Bob issues a brochure on his fieldtrips to Rock Candy, Spruce Claim, Hallelujah Junction, etc. You can get one by writing him at:
Geology Adventures PO Box 2652 Renton, WA 98056
or phoning him at (206) 255-6635
Sayward on Vancouver Island
Source: Ron Zeilstra
Last weekend my wife and I went to Sayward (north of Campbell River) on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada to look for quartz crystals with epidote crystals growing on them. We had seen a few specimens from the area, and got directions from a person who had been lucky enough to find a vug full of these crystals.
We camped at a forest service campsite about 60 km from Campbell River beside a lake. Even though it was a long weekend (Victoria Day), and not far from a city, it was relatively quiet with only one night of parties. The people at the campsite next to us did set off some bear bangers after midnight after being spooked of reports of a cougar and a black bear and cub in the area.
Collecting is in the pillow basalts north of Sayward. Roadcuts in these basalts are found along the highway and along the forest service roads and private forest roads in the area. The crystals are found in openings between the pillows. Many of these are empty, or have been filled with massive quartz and epidote, but occasionally vugs with crystals are found. We heard that one pocket in the area yielded over 70 lbs of crystals
We went prospecting down one of these private roads (open to the public only in the evenings or weekends and holidays). It was in great condition and we could fly down it without worrying about pot-holes, etc. Several small wayside quarries had been made to get crush rock for the road, and we searched these and the roadcuts.
Pickings were slim. We found a few quartz crystals (up to 2.5 cm) in the quarries, some even had epidote crystals (2-3 mm) on them. We did find plenty of seam quartz with points in small vugs. One area we looked in had significant massive epidote in the quartz veins. We also found a small vug of small, loose terminated epidote crystals up to 0.5 mm, and another vug filled with calcite micromounts and thumbnails up to 1.5 cm. However, most of the areas we were in had signs that others had been there before us...
The area has potential as they build more forest roads and wayside quarries. There are also many more miles of road and side-roads which we want to explore. We will go back!
Monte Lake, Okanogan, Grand Forks, Fraiser River, Burgess Shales
Agate, Amethyst Geodes, Feldspar Crystals, Fossils, Nephrite Jade, Zeolites
Source: Rocks-and-Fossils Mailing List 6/16/95
Depending on his route, he may want to try the outcrops along the highway near Monte Lake, BC for agates and zeolites (between Kamloops and Vernon).
In the Okanogan, there are places to collect amethyst geodes and feldspar crystals, although I've heard that many of the sites are on Native lands, and possibly closed.
Near Grand Forks, BC is the Rock Candy Mine (fluorite, barite, quartz), a private fee site and a few old copper mines including the Phoenix Mine (chalcopyrite, garnets...)
Of course there is nephrite jade (the mineral emblem of BC) along the Fraser River. A Crown Reserve for Jade is established along the Fraser River between Hope and Lillooet where anyone can look for jade for private use without a Free Miner's Certificate (private property and Indian Reserves must still be respected).
As far as I know, Vancouver Island does not have much accessible near Victoria, but up island there is potential.
One site I've always wanted to go to is the Burgess Shales near Field, BC. These shales contain the famous softbodied fossils. Although there is positively no collecting (a World Heritage Site), guided tours are available. Attached is the information off their www site:
1. Burgess Shale (Walcott Quarry) Fossil Hike #1 (20 km return) Elevation Gain - 880 m (2,888 ft) . This has been noted as the world's most significant fossil location. Recent interpretation of these exquisitely preserved 515 million year old fossils has changed many scientists' views about the evolution of life on earth. Royal Ontario Museum staff are conducting research at the site. Dates: July through September (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays) Cost: $25 per person. On Mondays and Saturdays meet at 8:30 am at the Takakkaw Falls parking lot. On Wednesdays meet at 8:30 am at the Yoho Brothers' Trading Post (Field and TransCanada Hwy intersection).
2. Mt. Stephen Fossil Beds - Fossil Hike #2 (6 km return) Elevation Gain - 520 m (1,700 ft). Visible from the Field townsite, these fossil beds were discovered before the Burgess Shale in 1886 when railway workers reported finding "stone bugs" in the area. This site is approximately the same age as the Burgess Shale and is known for its abundant trilobite fossils. Dates: July through September (Tuesdays and Saturdays). Cost: $25 per person. Meet at 9:00 am at the Yoho Brothers' Trading Post (Field and TransCanada Hwy intersection)
Guided hikes commence on July 1st and run through September 30, 1995. Reservations may be made by calling 1-800-343-3006 (Fax: 604-343-6426) after May 1/95. A ten dollar credit card deposit will be requested as a reservation deposit. Payment to be made to your guide prior to your hike.
If you want more details on these sites, e-mail me direct.
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