Dravite Tourmaline – Yinnietharra Station

Yinnietharra, Upper Gascoyne Shire, Western Australia.

Tourmaline is the name given to a large group of boron silicate minerals that share a common prismatic crystal structure and similar physical properties. This crystalline boron silicate mineral can be found compounded with elements such as aluminium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and lithium.  Dravite tourmaline has a composition of sodium magnesium aluminium boron silicate and the crystals are hexagonal or trigonal with rhombohedral terminations.

Because tourmalines vary so greatly in chemical composition, we see the widest range of colours and colour combinations than in any other mineral group. Colours range from yellow, orange and pink to green, blue, brown and black.

Dravite tourmaline is a more common form of tourmaline and is known as brown tourmaline. At the Yinnietharra Station location they are found in brown and black forms. Found in several locations around the world, the largest and highest quality crystals come from the Yinnietharra Station locality.

Black Dravite Tourmaline from Yinnietharra Station. Photo by Tom Kapitany.

Dravite tourmaline is a semi-precious gemstone that is rarely used in jewellery. The brown Dravite tourmaline typically has a dull lustre whereas the black Dravite tourmaline has a vitreous lustre. The large well-formed crystals, and rare transparent forms from the Yinnietharra Station locality are highly sought after by collectors.

Hardness 7 – 7.5

Fracture is conchoidal to uneven.

The locality where Dravite was first described is and where it gets its name from is Dobrova, Dravograd, Slovenia. As a healing stone, Dravite is said to be “a very strong grounding stone that raises one’s stamina, life force and protective energies”

Black Dravite Tourmaline from Yinnietharra Station. Photo by Tom Kapitany
Black Dravite Tourmaline from Yinnietharra Station. Photo by Tom Kapitany

The Yinnietharra Dravite Mine is actually two open cut mine pits approx. 1km apart. 

First discovered in 1918 these sites where later mined by A. Soklich in 1968 – 1971

Tom Kapitany then took up the lease in 2010 and remained it Tomkap Tourmaline Mine.

Yinnietharra Dravite Mine (South Open Cut. Photo sourced from Minedat.org

The South Open Cut Dark mine produces brown, large, well-formed crystals.

The main South deposit (pictured above) is about 5 metres wide and is a couple of hundred metres long. Most of the brown Dravite crystals on the market where mined by Soklich between 1968 & 1971. Approx. 12 tonne of specimens where removed during this time. Since 2010, larger and higher quality specimens have been mined at deeper levels. Crystals up to 7kg have been found.

Brown Dravite Tourmaline. Photo sourced from Minedat.org

Yinnietharra Dravite Mine (North Open Cut) 

Photo sourced from Minedat.org

The North Open Cut mine (pictured above) produces the higher quality Black Dravite crystals. 

The crystals from this smaller pit are found in a black schist containing the typically large euhedral rhombohedra, many with double terminations. The largest crystal found is recorded as being 60mm in diameter and 23cm long.

Black Dravite Tourmaline. Photo sourced from Minedat.org

Fun Fact – A resident large goanna was said to “guarded” the south pit for many years.

As a healing stone, Dravite is said to be “a very strong grounding stone that raises one’s stamina, life force and protective energies”.

Information sourced from Minedat.org