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Displays of Nature: History, Minerals & Crystals of Utah's Bingham Canyon Copper Mine.

By Jerry North. Self-published (2010) by Jerry North. Softcover, 8.5 X 11 inches, 65 pages. Price $25 plus shipping; order on www.DisplaysofNature.net.

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Jerry North, a geologist and mineral collector, was employed from 1966 to 1986 at the Kennecott Copper Corporation's huge open-pit copper mine at Bingham Canyon, Salt Lake County, Utah. For some of that period, one of his jobs with the company--to his delight--was to scramble about the mine collecting suites of crystallized mineral specimens, some of which went to the official company collection, others to interested parties who had requested them through the company. But North kept enough specimens for himself to mount a competitive case at a Utah mineral show in 1994 and win a trophy for "best self-collected specimens." It was about then that he decided to write an informal, collector-oriented account of Bingham Canyon--and this attractive, extremely well illustrated, 65-page monograph is it.

An introductory chapter called "The Story of the Mine" is itself introduced by a handy one-page chart showing significant dates in the mine's evolution, from earliest gold-prospecting activities in the 1860s all the way to the "projected end" of large-scale copper and molybdenum mining in 2036. Six more pages offer a summary of the local geology and illustrated accounts of the methods used in modern mining and ore-processing; especially interesting here is a geologic map of the orebody and its neighborhood, with overlain numbers showing where notable mineral-specimen finds have been made. A checksheet of 78 minerals occurring at Bingham Canyon has asterisks marking the 28 species deemed to be of collector interest. The rest of the book is devoted to a photo gallery of specimens, with a short, clearly written patch of text for each, many of the patches including chatty collecting stories. The specimen photographs, all of which are superb, are by Jeff Scovil, and their subjects are all from the author's collection.

Understandably, North's enthusiasm for Bingham Canyon mineral specimens is very strong, and comes through everywhere in the book--but what is shown nevertheless is that this is not a specimen locality that comes at all near the first rank. Decent-to-good specimens of a few common species (aragonite, barite. galena, sphalerite) and, rarely, excellent specimens of two species (pyrite and vivianite) have emerged--but because of the highly mechanized mining methods, unfriendly to preservation of crystals, very few Bingham Canyon specimens of anything have been seen on the mineral market over the decades. Therefore the book's chief appeal for collectors is in the slightly sad pleasure its photo gallery offers in showing us nice, aka "interesting," things now gone, or at least unavailable: specimens of Bingham Canyon apophyllite, okenite, copper, enargite, chalcopyrite, tetrahedrite, and a few others, such as we almost surely have never seen. Sometimes we even encounter major surprises, e.g. a thumbnail-size rhodochrosite specimen, whose photo fills a whole page, which could pass for the product of a very good day at Silverton, Colorado in the 1970s (the author writes that he "spent a lot of time hoping to find more [such rhodochrosite] ... but it was not to be").

Readers interested in mining history and lore will enjoy the generous number of photos of goings-on at Bingham Canyon at many times from about 1910 to the present; the account of the mine's history is clear and thorough; the Bibliography contains 26 titles, about half of them websites. In short, this monograph is a workmanlike account of a major copper/molybdenum mine which also is a minor locality for crystallized minerals, not generally well known to collectors. You may order a copy via the self-publishing author's website (cited above).
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Author:Moore, Thomas P.
Publication:The Mineralogical Record
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2010
Words:606
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