by Eric Greene
To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the demise of the Rogerley have turned out to be greatly exaggerated.
The Rogerley Mine has been commercially mined for Fluorite specimens since the 1990's, producing exceptional green Fluorite cubes on matrix. The Rogerley Mine is located near the northern England village of Frosterley in Weardale, County Durham. It is famous for its magnificent green fluorite, and intense fluorescence, as well as its daylight fluorescence.
Operation of the mine was taken over by Cal Graeber and Jesse Fisher of UK Mining Ventures in 1999. During the early 1970's, the mine was re-discovered by collectors Lindsay Greenbank and Mike Sutcliffe in an abandoned 19th century limestone quarry. The principal workings are an adit extending northward along the Greenbank vein at the High Flats horizon of the Great Limestone. Specimens of green fluorite, often associated with galena have been recovered from discontinuous mineralized flats on both the east and west sides of the vein.
A view of the western portion of the Rogerley Quarry looking south-east (taken August, 2002).
The mineralized veins can be seen as promontories, which were avoided by the original quarrymen.
After 17 years of successful operation, the Rogerley Mine was closed in August at the end of the 2016 mining season. At the time, the main hurdles faced were twofold: First, UK Mining Adventures' head miner quit at the end of the 2015 season, leaving the owners without someone to run the day-to-day operations. The second major obstacle was that new UK regulations enacted in late 2015 for the storage of explosives left them without a place to store their dynamite. They had previously used the powder magazine at the nearby Heights Mine for this purpose, but the Heights Mine had decided to close their magazine and hire freelancers to do contract blasting. So, after operating the mine in 2016 despite these and other obstacles, the owners decided to call it quits.
Collecting fluorite specimens from the right hand side (southern) flats of the Sutcliffe vein at the
Diana Maria mine in November of 2017.
Then, in Spring of 2017, there were some surprising changes, which led to the re-opening of the mine. For one, the man who was the head miner in previous years suddenly became available. The story I was told is that he was going to be down-sized from his school-year job as a custodian, and was looking for full time, year-round employment. For another, I was told that the Heights Quarry re-opened their powder magazine, to accommodate greatly expanded mining operations to provide road fill for nearby, new highway construction. This combination of opportunities proved irresistible to Ian Bruce, owner of Crystal Classics, who purchased UK Mining Ventures and took over specimen mining at the Rogerley Mine in Spring of 2017.
Diana Maria open cast mine located in western extension of the Rogerley quarry. November of 2017.
In addition to running the Rogerley locality, Bruce opened a western extension on a set of mineralized cross-veins, trending roughly east-west. This extension is located a few hundred meters northwest of the Rogerley Mine portal, where fluorite cropped out high in the old quarry face. This vein system was named the Sutcliffe Vein in honor of Mick Sutcliffe, one of the original discoverers of the Rogerley Mine, who worked the area in the early 1970s. Bruce named this locality the Diana Maria Mine, in honor of his wife, Diana Maria Bruce. The new mine has produced fluorite similar to the Rogerley Mine material, but with a slightly darker color as well as some purple examples.
Freshly exposed near-horizontal metasomatic flat filled with clay and fluorite crystals at the Diana
Maria mine in November of 2017.
The mineralization was within 6-8 meters of the surface, so it was decided to strip back the overburden and explore the potential of the vein. Within two weeks, a collapsed flat was unearthed, containing multiple pockets of specimen-grade fluorite. In June of 2017, the miners hit the first pocket discovered at the Diana Maria Mine: the Graeber Jones Pocket. Named for Cal Graeber and for British collector/dealer Ian Jones, the pocket produced green fluorite penetrating twins, often with distinct color zoning, growing on stubby quartz crystals. Next, a second pocket was opened, which was named the Snowstorm Pocket. It contained fluorite crystals overcoated with snow-white aragonite. The fluorite was mainly green gemmy twins, but rarely, a purplish green. Then came Pavel's Pocket, which produced deep purplish-green fluorite, often with white centers, directionally coated with white aragonite. Soon thereafter in 2017 came the Emerald Peaks Pocket and the Green Hill Pocket, each with its own distinctive colors and formations. Specimens from these pockets as well as from the Rogerley Mine were offered at the 2017 Denver and Munich Shows, and at the 2018 Tucson Show.
Freshly exposed pocket with fluorite crystals, in March of 2018.
With two mines in operation, with a year-round miner working them, with an officially-sanctioned spot to store explosives, and with fresh blood at the helm, the potential for future production of fluorite specimens appears to be on solid footings. But you best stay tuned for future developments, as specimen mining is arguably one of most uncertain, most precarious, most problematic, and most difficult undertakings in the mineral world.
7.5" Sharp Gemmy Blue Green FLUORITE Crystals with GALENA Rogerley Mine UK for sale $1,050 See the listing
6.1" Blue Green Gem FLUORITE Crystals Daylight Fluoresce Rogerley M UK for sale $900 See the listing
6.1" BLUE-GREEN FLUORITE Glassy Gem Cubic Crystals to 1" Rogerley M UK for sale $750 See the listing
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