Republic of Congo!

Ever in need of more specimens, I forwent the typical LA New Years and instead spent it in a small Congolese town near various mining sites (and I should point out, this was the Republic of Congo, not the relatively insane Democratic Republic of Congo). Despite the area being a US State Dept “Level 4: Do not travel” I was pleasantly surprised to find that things had mostly settled down, and places that I would have gotten killed trying to visit 2 years ago now even had Chinese companies popping up— of course in the typically fearless, business-first fashion of many Chinese companies, many were there even during the war.  People who 2 years ago were fighting against the government are today (mostly) just normal folks, and some even sold specimens. I’ll admit— going to the first couple villages made me a bit uneasy, especially carrying money. But, my general belief is that most people are at least neutral unless you give them a reason to shift in either direction, and those few who would do harm are more willing to cheat you than hurt you... whether it’s Pakistan, Congo or Peru, it has generally held... though I must say, Mexico is a bit more unhinged.


In the vast expanse of dioptase green hills, it is incredible how these people continue to find specimens— actually, in many cases (Mfouati, Ntola) today’s diggings are on the sites of old Soviet or abandoned Chinese worksites, and as in other parts of Africa, it is the Chinese who have the most visible presence— constructing highways, operating factories, mines and schools. In counties where I look different, I usually get strange stares from small children in rural villages who are unaccustomed to other ethnicities, but what one slightly confused little girl said was particularly telling: “Mom, he’s not Chinese!” And on a less pertinent note, there was another kid who just burst out crying when he saw my face.....


I don’t usually write personal notes, but I really enjoy this “work,” meeting people, eating random things (years of this has given me an iron stomach) and visiting places I would see in atlases as a kid, but never imagined I would have a reason to go in person. It isn’t without challenges— in central Africa I’m sure you can imagine the list. But, thanks to all of you who have supported this website over the years and given me these opportunities. And thanks especially to the people in all these countries who help me on the ground and make this possible... if anyone believes I can just fly to the place listed on a specimen label and walk out with rocks, they are giving me too much credit.  

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20RC01 Dioptase
Mindoui Area, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
8..1x 6.3x 3.0 cm
$2000

A very beautiful plate of dioptase crystals, from recent finds near Mindouli.  There is no damage, and the crystals are usually gemmy.  The piece has and overall pleasing visual balance, I like that the larger crystals are positioned near the top edges of the piece. 









20RC02M Hemimorphite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
13.5x 9.5x 4.8 cm
$1600

Among the interesting new finds from Congo are several habits of hemimorphite.  Most come from various workings in the same general area, and the appearance varies from plates that are nearly identical to the botryoidal blue material from Wenshan, China, to clusters of white radiating crystals that look similar to the Ojuela material, only more robust.

The best pieces combine both a light blue color, and actual crystals.   I was not able to get many of these-- white was considerably more common, as were the botryoidal blue examples.  But, crystalline blue examples were particularly hard to come by.  This is the best piece I could get.  







20RC03 Cerussite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
12.9x 6.7x 4.6 cm
$1900

An especially large cerussite crystal from Mfouati.  This piece hosts a single well formed, smoky colored crystal that shares its matrix with mimetite and minor smithsonite. I would argue that this is a significant piece for the locality, most of what is found is 1) smaller, 2) off matrix and 3) it just gets broken.  Cerussite is especially prone to chipping, and when you see the way that the local miners beat at the rock with pry bars and hammers, it is actually something of a miracle that anything of this size can survive intact.

This site sits atop a hill that was worked in the 70's and 80's by French and Soviet mining enterprises.  The mine has long since been abandoned, but local specimen miners continue to search for minerals.

I was not there when the piece was unearthed, but this image was captured minutes after it was extracted; a rare opportunity to see a specimen so soon after it was found.















20RC04 Dioptase
Mindoui Area, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
7.2x 4.6x 2.0 cm
$1500

A great example of dioptase form the Mindouli area, with particularly large crystals. This piece can be displayed either vertically (to accentuate the largest crystal) or horizontally.  There are scattered overgrowths of quartz.









20RC05M Plancheite in Quartz
Kinbedi Area, Pool Region, Republic of Congo
12.0x 7.2x 4.0 cm
$800

Another interesting novelty from this part of the southern Republic of Congo are examples of plancheite overgrown by quartz.  In most cases, these quartz overgrowths occur over a more massive, chalky plancheite habit. However, in this case, small plancheite orbs grew on an initial generation of quartz, and were then overgrown by a second quartz generation.  The final result is a much sparklier, sharper looking specimen, and if you look closely in a few areas, you can see the tiny plancheite orbs within the quartz crystals.  

This was the best example of this combination that I got. 











20RC06 Dioptase with Plancheite
Kinbedi Area, Pool Region, Republic of Congo
8.6x 7.8x 6.0 cm
$1500

A great combination of green dioptase with light blue plancheite.  In my opinion, the contrast between the blue and green creates one of the most aesthetically pleasing color combinations that this area produces.  This one is somewhat larger than most of the others I came across, and the dioptase was fortunately shielded from damage in a shallow vug.













20RC07M Pyromorphite on Malachite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
16.2x 13.5x 8.0 cm
$850

As an ex-pyromorphte collector, one of the more pleasant surprises encountered on this trip were examples of pyromorphite from a few different localities.  In the past, the only Congolese specimens I had seen were old examples of dull hexagonal prisms on a contrast-lacking matrix.  While not the most well crystalized, examples from this location certainly had the most vivid coloration and richness.  Also of particular note, is that the pyromorphite occurs on a malachite matrix.  I suspect this is the same location that also produces the malachite-cerussite combinations.

In some ways, these pieces really resemble the stuff from Rum Jungle, Australia.









20RC08M Cerussite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
5.0x 4.8x 3.1 cm
$400

A great example of smoky, reticulated cerussite from recent finds at Mfouati.  This location sits atop a hill that was worked for ore from the 60's to 80's by French and Soviet mining enterprises. Today the mine is long abandoned and only concrete ruins remain, but local entrepreneurs continue to work the site for specimens.  Sadly, given the delicate nature of this species and the somewhat rough extraction methods, few larger pieces (and this counts as larger) survive. 









20RC09 Cerussite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
7.3x 3.5x 4.5 cm
$465

A beautiful V-twin of cerussite, with minor alteration to mimetite on the reverse.  

This location sits atop a hill that was worked for ore from the 60's to 80's by French and Soviet mining enterprises. Today the mine is long abandoned and only concrete ruins remain, but local entrepreneurs continue to work the site for specimens.  Sadly, given the delicate nature of this species and the somewhat rough extraction methods, few larger pieces (and yes, this counts as larger) survive. 


For its size, this was one of the most aesthetic pieces I obtained.  There was a fair amount of it, but most was not even sellable, leave alone of a quality I would like to post on the website. 










20RC10M Cerussite on Malachite
Boko Songho-Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
8.0x 5.6x 2.9 cm
$395

A great example of cerussite on malachite, from recent finds int he general Boko Songho-Mfouati area.  In addition to the cerussite/ malachite combinations, there have also been some pyromorphite malachite combinations in a way they seem sort of like deconstructed versions of the classic examples from Rum Jungle, Australia.

As with most things from this country, it is really, really hard to get an example that has not been beaten to hell.  This one does have some damage, but the overall richness of the reticulated cerussite snowflakes masks it well. 

I would say these are one of the hardest things to find good examples of-- not only is the cerussite extremely brittle, but the malachite scuffs up as well.  And considering local extraction methods, getting anything that is isn't totally scuffed or shattered is something of a miracle. 









20RC11 Cerussite on Malachite
Boko Songho-Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
8.2x 4.8x 2.7 cm
$335

A great example of cerussite on malachite, from recent finds int he general Boko Songho-Mfouati area.  In addition to the cerussite/ malachite combinations, there have also been some pyromorphite malachite combinations in a way they seem sort of like deconstructed versions of the classic examples from Rum Jungle, Australia.


As with most things from this country, it is really, really hard to get an example that has not been beaten to hell.  This one does have some damage, but the overall richness of the reticulated cerussite snowflakes masks it well. 


I would say these are one of the hardest things to find good examples of-- not only is the cerussite extremely brittle, but the malachite scuffs up as well.  And considering local extraction methods, getting anything that is isn't totally scuffed or shattered is something of a miracle. 








20RC12 Hemimorphite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
11.8x8.6x 3.8 cm
$400

One of the interesting surprises I encountered were various habits of hemimorphite from the area around Mfouati.  These vividly colored, botryoidal blue examples were one of the more beautiful habits.  In many ways, they are nearly identical to the Chinese material from Wenshan, so much so that I even wondered if local Chinese enterprises were shipping the stuff back to China where it was getting mislabeled.

The better examples though, have a more electric color, as this one does. 

Sawn on the back-- I spent hours with an electric saw under the Congolese sun, covered in dust (which is a remarkably poor sunblock) sawing specimens down to size for shipment.  I really did like this piece though.... the shape and color made it particularly nice. 







20RC13 Dioptase
Reneville, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
6.8x 5.9x 3.1 cm
$800

A great example of dioptase from Reneville.  This location is further east than the bulk of the other dioptase producing localities, and is also one of the older ones-- the mines in this area were once operated (and later abandoned) by the French, and today are gradually coming to life again thanks to the efforts of Chinese companies and locals hunting for specimens. 

Dioptase from his locality is quite distinctive-- for one thing the crystals are very large, and they are also somewhat more tightly packed.  This piece is a sort of geode, and the slightly concave nature of the piece means that the crystals have been protected form damage. 









20RC14 Dioptase
Reneville, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
8.5x 4.8x 3.7 cm
$900

A great example of dioptase from Reneville.  This location is further east than the bulk of the other dioptase producing localities, and is also one of the older ones-- the mines in this area were once operated (and later abandoned) by the French, and today are gradually coming to life again thanks to the efforts of Chinese companies and locals hunting for specimens. 

Dioptase from his locality is quite distinctive-- for one thing the crystals are very large, and they are also somewhat more tightly packed.  This piece has some etched material not beside that could probably be removed, though. I have chosen to leave it as is.  Of particular note (and also a feature that makes it easily identifiable as being from Reneville) is a massive 3.1 cm crystal. 









20RC15 Cerussite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
9.3x 8.2x 3.9 cm
$500

A great example of smoky, reticulated cerussite from recent finds at Mfouati. This piece is special because it hosts a perfect cluster *on matrix.*. This matrix is usually a bit friable, cerussite is delicate, and the way that specimens are beaten out of the ground, almost nothing makes it out intact, leave alone on matrix. 


This location sits atop a hill that was worked for ore from the 60's to 80's by French and Soviet mining enterprises. Today the mine is long abandoned and only concrete ruins remain, but local entrepreneurs continue to work the site for specimens.  


For whatever reason, I really do like this one...


 Saw marks on the back. 










20RC16M Hemimorphite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
6.5x 4.8x 2.5 cm
$185

A very nice example of hemimorphite from recent finds int hr Mfouati area.  In many ways, these closely resemble the botryoidal blue material from Wenshan, China, but I find that the color of the good ones is much brighter.

These two pieces are actually two halves of a small pocket. I was trimming mine run material, and when I split a larger piece these two vividly colored halves were revealed. 









20RC17 Dioptase
Ntola Mine, Mindouli, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
17.3x 14.5x 6.1 cm
$695

A large cabinet specimen of dioptase with a rich sprinkling of bright green dioptase crystals.  Not entirely perfect, but quite rich an impressive.  Especially for the price.









20RC18 Dioptase
Ntola Mine, Mindouli, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
11.4x 8.2x 11.0 cm
$700

A nice cabinet sized specimen, with a rich sprinkling of dioptase crystals.  Please note: the 11.4x 8.2  cm measurements are the dimensions of the display face. 











20RC19M Silver with Malachite
Mindoui Area, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
9.3x 5.7x 2.5 cm
$250

An interesting example of native silver with some crudely crystalized malachite, from the area around Mindouli.  Saw marks on the reverse, and actually, you can see more silver veining int he matrix, on the flat back.







20RC20M Pyromorphite on Malachite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
13.4x 8.4x 2.0 cm
$480

As an ex-pyromorphte collector, one of the more pleasant surprises encountered on this trip were examples of pyromorphite from a few different localities.  In the past, the only Congolese specimens I had seen were old examples of dull hexagonal prisms on a contrast-lacking matrix.  While not the most well crystalized, examples from this location certainly had the most vivid coloration and richness.  Also of particular note, is that the pyromorphite occurs on a malachite matrix.  I suspect this is the same location that also produces the malachite-cerussite combinations.

In some ways, these pieces really resemble the stuff from Rum Jungle, Australia.







20RC21 Hemimorphite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
10.2x 6.0x 5.5 cm
$345

Among the interesting new finds from the Mfouati area, were a few different habits of hemimorphite.  This type of specimen contains clusters of rather robust (faintly bluish) white crystals on matrix.   Thinking over recent hemimorphite finds, not many localities that produce good crystals come to mind, except for Ojuela.  And those are usually a lot thinner and more delicate.  These are unusually thick and robust for crystals of the species. 









20RC22 Hemimorphite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
8.5x 6.3x 4.5 cm
$265

Among the interesting new finds from the Mfouati area, were a few different habits of hemimorphite.  This type of specimen contains clusters of rather robust (faintly bluish) white crystals on matrix.   Thinking over recent hemimorphite finds, not many localities that produce good crystals come to mind, except for Ojuela.  And those are usually a lot thinner and more delicate.  These are unusually thick and robust for crystals of the species. 











20RC23 Smithsonite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
6.5x 4.0x 1.9 cm
$175

A nice example of greenish smithsonite from a somewhat unusual locality for the species.  It actually shows Nice rice-like crystals.  I suspect the white stuff is hydrozincite. 







20RC24M Quartz with Plancheite
Kinbedi Area, Pool Region, Republic of Congo
7.5x 4.9x 3.4 cm
$185

A nice example of plancheite overgrown with quartz crystals. This is one of the interesting novelties that have been coming from area in recent months. 









20RC25M Dioptase
Ntola Mine, Mindouli, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
5.9x 2.9x 2.4 cm
$225

A very nice example dioptase from the Ntola Mine.  I think the most distinctive pieces from this location are the rounded casts; no one is quite sure how they formed, but the speculation is that these are pseudomorphs after plancheite or shattuckite.  I particularly liked this piece because there is one main cast front and center, and it has been opened to reveal a crystal cluster of larger dioptase crystals situated within.  









20RC26M Dioptase
Mindouli Area, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
5.2x 4.4x 2.7 cm
$395

A great example of dioptase from Mindouli.  This piece comes from a small lot that had distinct, more elongated crystals.  Most dioptase from the area tends to be somewhat closely clustered, but the pieces from his pocket were rather pleasantly spread out.  There is minor quartz overgrowth.









20RC27M Dioptase
Mindouli Area, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
3.7x 3.3x 2.4 cm
$435

A beautiful example of unusually elongated dioptsase crystals on matrix.  Crystals this size are not especially common from this area.









20RC28M Dioptase
Mindouli Area, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
4.0x 3.8x 1.0 cm
$375

A great example of dioptase from Mindouli.  This piece comes from a small lot that had distinct, more elongated crystals.  Most dioptase from the area tends to be somewhat closely clustered, but the pieces from his pocket were rather pleasantly spread out.  There is minor quartz overgrowth.









20RC29 Hemimorphite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
7.0x 6.5x 3.6 cm
$285

Among the interesting new finds from Congo are several habits of hemimorphite.  Most come from various workings in the same general area, and the appearance varies from plates that are nearly identical to the botryoidal blue material from Wenshan, China, to clusters of white radiating crystals that look similar to the Ojuela material, only more robust.

The best pieces combine both a light blue color, and actual crystals.   I was not able to get many of these-- white was considerably more common, as were the botryoidal blue examples.  But, crystalline blue examples were particularly hard to come by.  







20RC30M Dioptase
Mindouli Area, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
3.2x 2.5x 1.8 cm
$195

A great example of an unusually elongated and isolated dioptase crystal on matrix.  Minor damage on the side, but exactly as shown.









20RC31M Dioptase
Mindouli Area, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
2.8x 2.5x 1.6 cm
$175

A beautiful cluster of unusually (and pleasantly) eleonagetd and isolated green dioptase crystals from a small recent find near Mindouli.







20RC32 Dioptase
Reneville, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
6.5 x 5.2x 3.6 cm
$600

A great example of dioptase from Reneville.  This location is further east than the bulk of the other dioptase producing localities, and is also one of the older ones-- the mines in this area were once operated (and later abandoned) by the French, and today are gradually coming to life again thanks to the efforts of Chinese companies and locals hunting for specimens. 


Dioptase from his locality is quite distinctive-- for one thing the crystals are very large, and they are also somewhat more tightly packed. 








20RC33M Plancheite with Quartz
Kinbedi Area, Pool Region, Republic of Congo
8.0x 4.7x 5.0 cm
$235

A great example of dark blue plancheite overgrown by quartz.  The numerous small quartz crystals make for a particularly sparkly and attractive piece. 







20RC34 Cerussite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
4.2x 3.8x 3.5 cm
$350

A beautiful example o smoky  cerussite from recent finds at Mfouati.  This is a particularly sharp and well formed single crystal

This location sits atop a hill that was worked for ore from the 60's to 80's by French and Soviet mining enterprises. Today the mine is long abandoned and only concrete ruins remain, but local entrepreneurs continue to work the site for specimens.  Sadly, given the delicate nature of this species and the somewhat rough extraction methods, few pieces survive in as good condition. 










20RC35 Cerussite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
4.2x 3.6x 1.7 cm
$335

A beautiful example of cerussite from recent finds at Mfouati.  This is a particularly sharp and well formed single crystal

This location sits atop a hill that was worked for ore from the 60's to 80's by French and Soviet mining enterprises. Today the mine is long abandoned and only concrete ruins remain, but local entrepreneurs continue to work the site for specimens.  Sadly, given the delicate nature of this species and the somewhat rough extraction methods, few pieces survive in as good condition. 












20RC36 Cerussite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
3.5x 2.3x 2.3 cm
$165

A beautiful "toenail" sized example of cerussite, with a very sharp and lustrous crystal perched on a bit of matrix. 

This location sits atop a hill that was worked for ore from the 60's to 80's by French and Soviet mining enterprises. Today the mine is long abandoned and only concrete ruins remain, but local entrepreneurs continue to work the site for specimens.  Sadly, given the delicate nature of this species and the somewhat rough extraction methods, few pieces survive in as good condition. 










20RC37 Cerussite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
5,0x 2.7x 3.3 cm
$295

A little melted looking, but I really liked this piece.  It is a pair of stacked reticulated "sixling" clusters on matrix, with small bits of associated yellow mimetite. 

This location sits atop a hill that was worked for ore from the 60's to 80's by French and Soviet mining enterprises. Today the mine is long abandoned and only concrete ruins remain, but local entrepreneurs continue to work the site for specimens.  Sadly, given the delicate nature of this species and the somewhat rough extraction methods, few pieces survive in as good condition. 










20RC38 Cerussite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
4.4x 3.0x 3.3 cm
$285

As with most reticulated cerussites, this one has to be angled correctly to appreciate.  It is  reticulated "sixling" cluster on matrix, with small bits of associated yellow mimetite. 

This location sits atop a hill that was worked for ore from the 60's to 80's by French and Soviet mining enterprises. Today the mine is long abandoned and only concrete ruins remain, but local entrepreneurs continue to work the site for specimens.  Sadly, given the delicate nature of this species and the somewhat rough extraction methods, few pieces survive in as good condition. 








20RC39 Cerussite with Mimetite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
3.3x 2.7x 2.3 cm
$135

A very sharp "toenail" sized sample of smoky cerussite with associated mimetite crystals that provide nice yellow accents, from recent finds in Mfouati.

This location sits atop a hill that was worked for ore from the 60's to 80's by French and Soviet mining enterprises. Today the mine is long abandoned and only concrete ruins remain, but local entrepreneurs continue to work the site for specimens.  Sadly, given the delicate nature of this species and the somewhat rough extraction methods, few pieces survive in as good condition. 









20RC40M Dioptase with Plancheite
Kinbedi Area, Pool Region, Republic of Congo
4.6x 4.3x 1.8 cm
$225

A beautiful example of contrasting green dioptase with light blue plancheite, from recent finds near Kinbedi.. In my opinion, these blue and green combinations create one of the most beautiful color contrasts that the region has to offer. 









20RC41M Dioptase on Plancheite
Kinbedi Area, Pool Region, Republic of Congo
2.6x 1.7x 1.4 cm
$95

A beautiful thumbnail sized example of contrasting green dioptase with light blue plancheite, from recent finds near Kinbedi.. In my opinion, these blue and green combinations create one of the most beautiful color contrasts that the region has to offer. 







20RC42M Cerussite with Mimetite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
2.8x 1.7x 0.8 cm
$110

A perfect V-twinned thumbnail of cerussite from recent finds in Mfouati. Displayable from the front and back.









20RC43M Hemimorphite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
2.9x 2.6x 1.9 cm
$125

An excellent thumbnail, consisting of a beautiful and very sharp little wheel of hemimorphite from recent finds in Mfouati. 

Thinking over recent hemimorphite finds, not many localities that produce good crystals come to mind, except for Ojuela.  And those are usually a lot thinner and more delicate.  These are unusually thick and robust for crystals of the species. 










20RC44M Cerussite with Mimetite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
3.3x 2.3x 2.9 cm
$165

A beautiful example of reticulated smoky cerussite with minor yellow mimetite, from recent finds at Mfouati. 


This location sits atop a hill that was worked for ore from the 60's to 80's by French and Soviet mining enterprises. Today the mine is long abandoned and only concrete ruins remain, but local entrepreneurs continue to work the site for specimens.  Sadly, given the delicate nature of this species and the somewhat rough extraction methods, few pieces survive in as good condition. 








20RC45M Pyromorphite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
4.8x 4.0x 2.6 cm
$80

An interesting reference sample of pyromorphite from somewhere near Mfouati.  When I purchased it, it looked like a rock with two small holes on either end; inside you could see a small pocket full of small fuzzy looking pyromorphite crystals. I admittedly did not do the best job exposing them (and there are some ugly dremmel marks on the back) but it is still a cool reference example for the species, from some random quarry near Mfouati.... 









20RC46 Dioptase with Calcite
Ntola Mine, Mindouli, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
17.0x 7.6x 4.0 cm
$195

A large cabinet specimen of dolomite and calcite, with several very bright green dioptase crystals interspersed on the display face.  Sawn on the back.







20RC47 Dioptase with Pyromorphite
Ntola Mine, Mindouli, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
4.1x 2.7x 1.8 cm
$135

A very unusual specimen of dioptase with pyromorphite.  I have seen a fair amount of dioptase with mimetite from this area, but this is one of the only dioptase pyromorphite combinations I have seen.  A very interesting oddball. 







20RC48 Dioptase with Mimetite
Ntola Mine, Mindouli, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
3.9x 3.4x 1.3 cm
$145

A nice miniature sized specimen of beautifully contrasting green dioptase with yellow mimetite. I particularly liked this one because both minerals are pretty evenly distributed on the display face-- you usually get more of one than the other, or each species tends to be somewhat isolated from the other.







20RC49 Hemimorphite with Mimetite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
7.9x 6.6x 4.2 cm
$175

A beautifully contrasting example of (very faintly bluish) white hemimorphite with pastel yellow mimetite, from recent finds at Mfouati. Most of what was found was just white hemimorphite, combinations like this were somewhat fewer and far between.

This location sits atop a hill that was worked for ore from the 60's to 80's by French and Soviet mining enterprises. Today the mine is long abandoned and only concrete ruins remain, but local entrepreneurs continue to work the site for specimens.  Sadly, given the delicate nature of this species and the somewhat rough extraction methods, few pieces survive in as good condition. 









20RC50 Quartz on Dioptase
Mindouli Area, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
5.9x 3.8x 2.7 cm
$135

A nice example of dioptase overgrown by quartz crystals that lend the piece a nice combination of color and extra sparkle. 







20RC52 Smithsonite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
4.5x 2.2x 2.8 cm
$78

A nice sample of light green smithsonite displaying a "rice grain" habit, from recent finds in Mfouati.   I suspect the white stuff is hydrozincite.







20RC53 Hemimorphite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
5.8x 3.1x 4.3 cm
$165

Among the interesting new finds from Congo are several habits of hemimorphite.  Most come from various workings in the same general area, and the appearance varies from plates that are nearly identical to the botryoidal blue material from Wenshan, China, to clusters of white radiating crystals that look similar to the Ojuela material, only more robust (like this one).

This one has a nice ball shaped cluster of (very faintly bluish) white crystals nicely positioned on matrix.  I obtained a fair amount of this material, the ones posted here are my favorites, usually because their form or visual balance was considerably better than the average plate. 







20RC54 Cerussite with Mimetite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
5.9x 5.1 x2.2 cm
$135

An interesting specimen of cerussite on matrix. Around the edges of the cerussite there is a ring of yellow mimetite and numerous tiny, sparkly crystals of hemimorphite







20RC55 Hemimorphite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
5.4x 5.2x 3.9 cm
$95

Among the interesting new finds from Congo are several habits of hemimorphite.  Most come from various workings in the same general area, and the appearance varies from plates that are nearly identical to the botryoidal blue material from Wenshan, China, to clusters of white radiating crystals that look similar to the Ojuela material, only more robust (like this one).

This one has a nice ball shaped cluster of (very faintly bluish) white crystals nicely positioned on matrix.  I obtained a fair amount of this material, the ones posted here are my favorites, usually because their form or visual balance was considerably better than the average plate. 







20RC56 Hemimorphite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
5.7x 4.4x 2.7 cm
$100

Among the interesting new finds from Congo are several habits of hemimorphite.  Most come from various workings in the same general area, and the appearance varies from plates that are nearly identical to the botryoidal blue material from Wenshan, China, to clusters of white radiating crystals that look similar to the Ojuela material, only more robust (like this one).

This one has a nice ball shaped cluster of (very faintly bluish) white crystals nicely positioned on matrix.  I obtained a fair amount of this material, the ones posted here are my favorites, usually because their form or visual balance was considerably better than the average plate. 







20RC57M Pyromorphite with Malachite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
7.2x 3.1x 2.9 cm
$145

As an ex-pyromorphte collector, one of the more pleasant surprises encountered on this trip were examples of pyromorphite from a few different localities.  In the past, the only Congolese specimens I had seen were old examples of dull hexagonal prisms on a contrast-lacking matrix.  While not the most well crystalized, examples from this location certainly had the most vivid coloration and richness.  Also of particular note, is that the pyromorphite occurs with malachite.  I suspect this is the same location that also produces the malachite-cerussite combinations.

In some ways, these pieces resemble the stuff from Rum Jungle, Australia.







20RC58M Dioptase
Mindouli Area, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
5.7x 3.9x 2.5 cm
$385

A beautiful example of dioptase from recent finds in the Mindouli area.  This piece has a particularly elongated  crystal on the right side of the piece, in addition to minor plancheite and quartz.









20RC59 Dioptase on Plancheite
Kinbedi Area, Pool Region, Republic of Congo
6.5x 4.2x 4.1 cm
$220

A beautiful example of contrasting green dioptase with light blue plancheite, from recent finds near Kinbedi.. In my opinion, these blue and green combinations create one of the most beautiful color contrasts that the region has to offer. 









20RC60M Dioptase on Plancheite
Kinbedi Area, Pool Region, Republic of Congo
3.5x 2.9x 1.6 cm
$220

A beautiful example of crisp green dioptase crystals, from recent finds in the Pool Region of Congo.  This one features one particularly large crystal.









20RC61M Dioptase
Mindouli Area, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
3.6x 2.8x 2.5 cm
$185

A beautiful example of crisp green dioptase crystals, from recent finds in the Pool Region of Congo.  It's a bit hard to see int he pictures, but the dioptase is actually situated on a bit of light blue plancheite.







20RC62M Dioptase
Mindouli Area, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
4.3x 3.0x 2.3 cm
$170

A beautiful example of crisp green dioptase crystals, from recent finds in the Pool Region of Congo.







20RC63M Dioptase with Plancheite
Mindouli Area, Pool Dept., Republic of Congo
7.7x 4.5x 3.0 cm
$430

A very nice example of elongated dioptase crystals on a plancheite coated matrix.  Unfortunately, while the piece looks quite nice in person it is difficult to photograph-- the dark dioptase and light colored plancheite create a level of contrast that is difficult for the camera to capture.







20RC64M Cerussite on Malachite
Mfouati Area, Bouenza Dept., Republic of Congo
4.5x 3.7x 2.4 cm
$135

A great example of cerussite on malachite, from recent finds int he general Boko Songho-Mfouati area.  In addition to the cerussite/ malachite combinations, there have also been some pyromorphite malachite combinations in a way they seem sort of like deconstructed versions of the classic examples from Rum Jungle, Australia.


As with most things from this country, it is really, really hard to get an example that has not been beaten to hell.  This one does have some damage, but the overall richness of the reticulated cerussite snowflakes masks it well. 


I would say these are one of the hardest things to find good examples of-- not only is the cerussite extremely brittle, but the malachite scuffs up as well.  And considering local extraction methods, getting anything that is isn't totally scuffed or shattered is something of a miracle. 









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Click her to see the previous update (Dioptase from Ntola)