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Mining Treasures in New England mine dumps Rocks,mineral,crystals and gems

Updated on October 28, 2016

Finds from mine dumps

pink calcite from Sterling Hill Mine Ogdensburg New Jersey
pink calcite from Sterling Hill Mine Ogdensburg New Jersey
Gem beryl from a New Hampshire pegmatite mine worked for mica
Gem beryl from a New Hampshire pegmatite mine worked for mica

Treasures in a mine dump from New England and beyond

As a rock hound or mineral collector the meaning of mine dumps are very clear.Mine dumps are one of the most productive areas that a rock hound can collect in.The word dump often brings looks of disgust when talking with someone who is unfamiliar with mineral collecting.Who would want to collecting anything from a dump?The word dump brings images of garbage and refuse to mind.Mine dumps however are the waste rocks which are left after the ore is taken from the mine or quarry.These can be small hills of rocks or large mountains of debris taken from the ground and piled somewhere near the mine or quarry.If the mine is large these mine dumps can be like small mountains.

Mine dumps can produce mineral specimens and crystals that are as good as they get.There are a great variety of minerals that can be found in mine dumps.Native copper and other minerals are still found in the old mine dumps in Michigan.Gem beryl and tourmaline is found in some of the old pegmatite mines in New England.Any thing from gold to mica is found in mine dumps.In Africa old mine dumps are being worked to find diamonds.In many of the gold mines of California and the southwest the mine dumps contain the mineral scheelite.During the 1950s many of these old mine dumps were worked to recover the scheelite which is an ore of tungsten.

Collecting in mine dumps often takes a little extra effort then just finding minerals on the surface.Most dumps have been picked over and the surface area is the first to be depleted of minerals and crystals.The best minerals and crystals are often found by digging down into undisturbed areas of a dump.A good shovel or potato rake can work well for digging in the waste piles.A screen can be useful to go through any dirt that may have small gems in it.Most of the minerals will be dirty when they are dug up and should be examined closely to see if they are worth collecting.The sloping part of a dump can be the best place to dig.It is much easier to shovel out debris and let gravity do some of the work.The collecting can be good or bad depending on which part of the dump you dig in.It often takes some time to discover which area or level of the dump is productive.Once you find the good area or level this is where you should concentrate your efforts.

The mining industry has often reworked mine dumps to get valuable ores that were considered waste in the past.Many New England mine dumps were worked in the 1950s to extract the beryl and columbite found in them.Beryl which contains berylium is an ore for that metal and is used in the rocket and jet engine industries.Columbite contains the metal nobium(columbium) and is an ore of that metal.Nobium is used in electronics including the computer industries.Some other metal ores are now at present or in the near future being mined from mine dumps.With the new magnetic separation technology gold,tin,tungsten,uranium and other metals can and will be extracted from mine dumps where it will be profitable.Other new technology is being used in South Africa to extract diamonds from the mine dumps of the mines there.

Personally I have found gem aqua and golden beryl and gem tourmaline in New England mine dumps.Not to mention hundreds of mineral and rock specimens.

So as you can see mine dumps are anything but garbage.

New England

Gilsum NH:
Gilsum, New Hampshire 03448, USA

get directions

Pegmatite mining district and home of the Gilsum Rock Swap each June.A wonderful rock,gem and mineral show.

Gilsum New Hampshire

The Gilsum New Hampshire area has many old mining sites.Gilsum was the mining center in Southeast New Hampshire for mica and feldspar.With well over 40 mines and prospects operated during the past century there are many old mine dumps in this area.It is here where I became aware of mine dump treasures.


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    • glowingrocks profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New York

      Thanks for saying so Peter Lumetta.Tailings are a favorite.

    • PETER LUMETTA profile image


      7 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

      I'm an old rock-licker from way back. Some of the best times I've had were rummaging through old tailings, some very nice specimens were found. Good work.

    • glowingrocks profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New York


      Thank you for visiting.Snakes and other nasties are part of the mix,not welcomed by myself either.

    • MobyWho profile image


      7 years ago from Burlington VT

      Happy to find you! Thanks for commenting on the Barre quarries. I had a funny find a few years ago. I was toying with rock carving and noticed a great lode of pink quartz in a drainage cut along a mountain road in Vermont. I went back in the summer, parked the car and walked to the ditch. There was the perfect rock! As I lifted it, Yikes! I awoke a long, fat snake! I dropped the rock, and left the scene. Someday, I'll take a big strong man with me and get my rock.

    • glowingrocks profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from New York

      Well Chloe

      There are some in Wurzboro and Ellenville NY.There are some in Warren and Essex County also.Have you been to any off the Herkimer Diamond mines?Contact me,up right hand section,for details.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      do you know of any dump sites in new york? i live north of albany.


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