Geochemist, Dr Kirsten Rempel, from Curtin University's Department of Applied Geology first identified the microscopic, silver-coloured particle in January 2015 and has since dubbed it 'kalgoorlieite'.
The mineral was in a sample taken from the Kalgoorlie Super Pit which is operated by Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines. It had been in a museum for years and was described as 'gold ore showing tellurides' before Dr Rempel discovered the new mineral.
Source: WA Today
Dr Rempel said that the mineral is unique in that "it is rare to find a mineral with the simplicity of kalgoorlieite these days"- most newly discovered minerals are complex. The kalgoorlieite is a telluride mineral that is closely related to the silver and gold telluride, but kalgoorlieite contains only trace amounts of precious metals.
Despite being very important for gold recovery, telluride is not very studied. Dr Rempel said that because telluride is often overlooked, it is possible that other new minerals can be discovered in the sample.
Regardless of this, the sample provides an opportunity to understand the origin of high grade ores in Kalgoorlie and possibly might shed light on the widely contested origin and formation of this giant gold mine deposit.
The effects of this new discovery are yet to be seen - will trying to unearth new minerals become a part of the Super Pit's operations? Voice your thoughts on the discovery below!
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Source: Australian Mining