In 1999 I was given a unique opportunity to visit the Elizabeth Mine site in Karratha, Western Australia.
It was a small operation run jointly by East Coast Mining and Legend Mining. With only about 12 full time staff, access was easy. Larger mining operations have no interest in mineral specimen collecting, as they do not consider it profitable. This mine ran on a shoe string budget, so that any extra income from mineral specimens would be welcome. The Elizabeth Hill mine was unique in that it contained very high grade Silver ore. Lumps of pure silver could be collected on the ore dumps. Fortunately, they were able to manually separate these specimens after primary crushing. This did damage some of the larger specimens , up to 100 kg masses were found. The largest undamaged specimen I managed to obtain was 11 kgs. On the dumps I managed to find Vanadanite, Chalcanthite, Galena, Native Silver and Silver halides yet to be identified.
Going underground was quite an experience, there was was only one main shaft or adit, which people went down and ore came up! I stood on top of the ore basket and clipped to a safety cable, was lowered down to a stope about 40 ft below ground level. The stope was small being cut out manually right into the host rock containing the ore body. It did not take long to see the native silver, it lined the wall in many places, small wires of silver, like coiled threads of hair were clinging to the recently blasted rock face and rich veins of silver ran across the surface. At the end of the adit were fracture zones containing small crystals of vanadanite. I managed to collect a few of these ( I donated them all to the Museum of Vic ).
After a series of discussions with the mining company we finally came to a financial agreement to acquire specimens from them. In all, I managed to get only a handful of specimens with wires, the best shown below. I have a few hundred specimens which I am in the process of cleaning, these will be available over time.