Home » Archive for category 'Mining'

Mining Archive

What the best dressed Fossicker is wearing…

Posted October 7, 2011 By Admin

I’m not talking about fashion but what kind of kit makes a fossicker or prospector up with the latest?

Whether you are a fossicker, prospector, rockhound, gold detectorist or mineral collector, you probably have one thing in common:  a love of the great outdoors.  One of the best things about any of those hobbies is that it gets you out in the bush to enjoy all that it has to offer.

However, it does mean you sometimes have to lug a heap of gear into quite remote locations sometimes.  So choosing equipment that is portable tends to make your expeditions a lot more enjoyable – particularly on the return trip to the car!

These photos show Patrick modelling a few of the new gadgets that are designed to make your treaure-hunting life a bit easier.

Generally speaking, a good sized backpack is a must.  The one shown here (RSW3)  is not expensive but will easily fit a set of sieves and pan along with room for a few small accessories and water/lunch.  Has a pocket each side and a separate front pocket – made of canvas so if any excess water will quickly dry off.

For general fossicking, you will usually need a long-handled shovel and a good strong bucket – Sorry, you are just going to have to carry these.

The 20L buckets shown here have a good strong handle and are the right size to fit our new Jobe Classifiers.

Digging tools – there are a range of picks, folding shovels and other assorted hand tools to help get at the gold, gems or minerals you are after.  While some of the smaller tools can fit in the backpack (crevice tool, hand guard chisels, folding shovels, etc), the larger geopicks can be carried in a good belt holder.

We have 2 styles available – the Estwing leather sheath is stylish and very secure while the swivel pick holder shown in the photo here is a bit more versatile as it can handle a variety of sizes/styles and offers more convenient access to your pick.

For the Gold Panner – up to 14″ pans will fit in the backpack comfortably.  The snuffer bottle holder shown in the first photo is a great idea as it prevents your bottle floating down the river – this way it is ready to hand whenever you need it.

For the Detectorist – the Jobe Dig-It is not the cheapest tool around but it is fantastic quality and you will soon find it an essential part of your tool kit.  Marked with graduations to help pinpoint a depth, one edge serrated to cut through roots or tough material, the other side sharp with a notch, slightly concave blade to help scoop and stored in a strong cowhide leather sheath.

If you are a bit more serious about gold, we’ve a great new folding sluice – you can see it in the 3rd photo.  Comes with a convenient shoulder strap or fits easily inside the backpack.  Folds out to a full 50″ or 1.27m length so these are very portable and convenient.

Finally, dont forget one of the most important items – your HAT.  Patrick is modelling one of the very sought after 🙂 ALF hats here – we dont mind what hat you wear as long as you wear it and plenty of sun screen.  Skin cancer is no joke so make sure you cover up and stay safe.

These are just a few of the new items available now at Aussie Sapphire.   We’ve got plenty more in stock so check out the website at aussiesapphire.com.au

Cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire

April’09 Update

Posted April 30, 2009 By Admin

Hard to imagine that a third of 2009 has already flashed by – a reminder that life is short so enjoy it.  And what better hobby than Gems !!

We would never have thought Aussie Sapphire would be where it is today when we first started the Online Shop in 1997 – we started off just selling a bit of sapphire from our mine but 12 years on, we have grown into Australia’s favourite Gem & Lapidary Online/Mail Order supplier.  Now with a free call phone number to make it even easier to contact us – just call 1800 50 21 40 toll free for prompt and friendly service.

The last 6 months have been very busy for Aussie Sapphire – here are just a few highlights:

  • In November we imported the first Darkside polishing Laps into Australia and are proud to be the exclusive Dealers in Australia for both the Darksides & the Famous BATT Laps from Gearloose.  With laps in stock ready to ship everyday, we invite you to try these out for yourself.   The Darkside is one of the most exciting new products in faceting for some time and will make life easier for both beginner and expert.  Information and user recommendations can be found at ALF.
  • December saw Sales of Lapidary Gear up over 50% on the previous year – a great result given fears of recession and it is pleasing to see demand continuing well into 2009.  The economy may be gloomy but the lapidary hobby seems to be going against the trend with strong interest all round.
  • December & January saw a huge effort to get our print catalogue ready – our customers have been asking for this for quite some time now and we are pleased to be able to provide this additional service.  Lots of exciting new products are now available.  Remember, up to date prices and stock levels are always available on our website.  If you have not already received a catalogue, just call or email and we will send one out to you (free to any Aussie Sapphire registered customer).
  • February/March also saw some reprieve from the Low Aussie Dollar which had been greatly hurting the margins on new stock.  This allowed us to place some serious orders to replenish our stocks.  We now consolidate container loads of equipment/supplies from the USA, China and Thailand all by sea to try and pass on the best prices possible. We have two large shipments in transit now expected mid/end of May.
  • March saw the voluntary committment of running the Minerama Fossicking and Gem Show take up all our spare time plus some. Minerama was again a great success – thanks to the many customers that called by to say g’day and stock up.  We trade only at Minerama and at the Emmaville Gem Show in September – we dont do other gem shows as it would be impossible to give customers the prompt service you all depend on if we are busy travelling on the Gem Show circuit.

As many would have noticed our listed stock of Sapphire Rough suitable for the local facetor is very low and hasnt had new stock added for some time.  The facts are that its not feasible for us to operate the Sapphire mine under current Global economic conditions.   Simply the cost of production is way too high and the price offered for Mine Run production too low.  Given current forecasts for the length and depth of the recession we are all clearly in, this situation does not look like changing any time soon.

We have had the plant under care and maintanance now for the last 6 months with no mining carried out – during this period, we have completed all the restoration of the mine cuts returning these areas back to full farm production.  A decision will be made within the next 3 months as to whether we maintain the Mining Plant & Equipment to restart at a later date or finalise all mining on the Reddestone Creek.

We carry a vast range of quality cut Reddestone Creek Sapphire in the Bank Deposit box ranging from 1.5mm up in Blues, Yellows and a good selection of Parti – enough to last us and our wholesale outlets  for many years.  We also have a special selected stockpile of rough for our own cutting needs – this is not for sale as rough, sorry.

Customers should be aware that there is no commercial mining being done on the Reddestone Creek currently – people considering buying Sapphire Rough from other sellers that is claimed to be from the Reddestone Creek  should confirm the origin of the rough as we have been the only commercial miner on this resource for some years.

Finally, for those who have not yet joined our new lapidary forum, we invite you to check out the Aussie Lapidary Forum – affectionately known as ALF. This active and friendly community is designed for anyone interested in gems – free membership and lots of features to help you get the most out of the lapidary hobby.

That’s all for now – cheers from Andrew and Leah (www.aussiesapphire.com.au)

Trade Talk – Industry News & Views

Posted September 16, 2008 By AussieSapphire

Rough Gem Supply
What a difference 6 months makes!  There has been a significant shortage of rough gemstones in most catagories – this has been a gradual trend developing for a considerable time but has really started to bite since December 2008.

REASONS:  A combination of factors, most completely out of the control of the trade but some the direct fault of some in the industry.

  • Huge increases in the cost of production (fuel, electricity, parts and supplies, etc) at the same time as only modest increases in rough prices.
  • The closure by the Madagascan Goverment of exports of Rough Gems (mainly Sapphire but many others gems as well).  This is probably the biggest news in the industry for many years.  It appears all Gems are to be Cut and Heat Treated in Africa before they can leave (similar to current rules in Sri Lanka prohibiting export of gem rough).  

One must remember that this small island is probably the richest gemstone resource ever discovered and most importantly this is where the largest majority of that “CEYLON” branded Sapphire has come from for some time. 

I would like to hope this works for the financially struggling Africans on the ground but I fear that not much will change.  Already, signs are that the more powerful USA and Indian companies are trying, although with difficulty, to move their cutting operations to this country and carry on as before.

  • Enviromental and Farmers rights.  The global weather concerns and the desperate need for food production has really had major effects on production especially in China.  A good friend and major Sapphire miner Alex reports that the local farmers are not allowing them to mine on the productive river flats any longer (most of the easier river beds are already exhausted) so they are forced to mine deeper harder ground.  Mine production in China is still large but much less than even last calendar year.

More interesting Gem News:
Ruby Rumblings – The Ruby game has been in a mess for some time since the “Lead Filled” treatment became almost commonplace.  There has been mountains of Ruby in the market, mainly lower grade Indian product (often large and almost opaque) and lead filled African material.  Unfortunately for the retail customer, the altered Ruby looks very good to the eye but in my strong opinion it just “aint Ruby”!  (Oh I forgot the Berillium treated Ruby as well).

Burma Ruby Dead ?  President  Bush in his “wisdom” has banned the import of Ruby  and Jade from Burma (now known as Myanmar) into the USA starting in September 2008.  This in my opinion is a silly decision based on politics not common sense.  Although there has been a Ban in place since 2003, this latest move is supposed to tie up the loophole of Gems being processed in another country (mainly Thailand).  This is aimed at the Military Goverment but in my opinion will just hurt the individual and long suffering Burmese poor while the rich Generals will see little change.

Just how will it work?  In short it wont!  Any Ruby or Jade already in the USA prior to the cut off date can still be legally sold as Burmese.  Reports from the ground in Thailand show large US based companies pouring as much cash as they can spare into getting stockpiles into their country before the deadline.  I suppose the USA customs will now be able to tell the origin of a Gem just by looking at it.  A difficult job even for the most experienced Gem Labs.  Of course there will now be a lot of Burmese type Ruby coming from other countries or “New Finds”.

Richard Hughes changes jobs:
Richard Hughes, gemologist and author, has resigned as senior staff gemologist for the AGTA, (American Gem Trade Association) to join a jewellery TV company based in Singapore and Bangkok.  Richard has vast knowledge and experience in the Gem world – he seems to be willing to give these alternative methods of selling some support – hopefully he will bring some much needed credibility to the system.  The thought that springs to my mind though is that perhaps the old fashioned bricks and mortar Jewellery stores need to do some catching up or they might die?  Good luck Richard.

Lapidary Gear:
We have had several questions asking if Lapidary supplies will decrease in price because of our high dollar. The answer is simple Yes but No. Confused ?  I dont blame you but the simple fact is freight cost increases have wiped out in most cases more than the gain in currency exchange.  On top of this, all manufacturers face large increases on all the material they use with many increasing our buying prices.  Having said this the choice of where or what to purchase has never been better so shop around and enjoy the savings that come from competition.  We’re pretty confident you wont find a better deal than at Aussie Sapphire.  Just remember, when comparing prices, check if stock is ready to deliver immediately and if any additional costs apply – such as for 220 Volt (a common trap when buying from the US), credit card fees, foreign currency fees and charges, etc.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Need storage for your 6″ Faceting Laps, diamond saw blades, etc ? Inexpensive Size 1 padded envelopes are a cheap solution or try CD cases – ideal for your 4″ or 5″ diamond blades.  You can mark each type clearly and avoid contamination.  
  • Dull Diamond Blades – if your diamond blade becomes dull try redressing it before you throw it out. There are specific dressing sticks available but a old silicon carbide grinding wheel does the same job cheaper.  Just cut into the wheel a couple of times this removes tiny particles of metal that melt into the Diamond while cutting.  If this doesnt work then there is no Diamond left so your blade is only a drink coaster now.

Website Reviews:
http://www.gemologyonline.com – A great free forum for everything to do with Gems and Lapidary.  Cannot recommend this site highly enough – filled with genuine experts who are genuinely happy to help out with advice and share knowledge.

Public Company Sapphire Mining

Posted September 7, 2008 By AussieSapphire

Those of you familiar with sapphire mining in Australia will know that most is done by small individual operators.  Involvement of public companies has not always been successful with Cluff Resources and Great Northern Resources exiting the sapphire industry to pursue other more lucrative minerals.

While the above mentioned companies have repositioned their business in a purposeful and sensible way, Great Northern in particular having some years of successful mining under their belt, others have had more trouble coping with the particular challenges of the sapphire industry.  A case in point is Australis – this company is currently suspended from the ASX, has been under administration for an extended period and is a good example of what can go wrong.

A new company that plans to list on the stockmarket very soon has released a prospectus with plans to operate in our own region – Glen Innes and Inverell.  The company is Australian Gemstone House – managing director is Pnina Feldman.  EDITED TO ADD:  Please note that we have been requested by Dr Pecover to remove inaccurate material from this post.  The link to the upcoming float on the ASX is no longer valid and so has been edited to point to the AGH website.  The article on the Business Spectator has been removed by that organisation – the comments below are based on reading the hard copy in the Australian Financial Review – any issues with the accuracy of that article should be taken up with the journalist concerned.

There have been some questions raised with an article in the Financial Review this week – we read the article from the paper itself but you need to be a subscriber to read it online – see this link from the Business Spectator to read more about the issues.  We should point out that the miners mentioned in this article are not us, we have had no contact with the writers of the article and are making no statement on the upcoming float – it is for others to assess the prospectus.  Obviously we are following these developments with great interest.

Finally, we should mention Van Dieman Mines which have been operating in Tasmania at a development stage for some time.  It is our understanding that this company is yet to commence commercial operation as a sapphire/tin miner with the most recent update in late August.  One interesting development is the joint venture with Columbia Gem House to brand sapphire from this operation as “Tasmin Blue” – hopefully this will succeed although we suggest that Columbia could develop this market a lot quicker by talking to those actually producing sapphire now – proven miners who can get gems to the market consistently and cost-effectively.

While the public companies may have the profile, it is often the private operators who can do the job more efficiently since we can just get in there and concentrate on production rather than stock market announcements.  Perhaps Australian Gemstone House and Van Dieman Mines will succeed where others have failed – we will all just have to wait and see.

Shopping Updates

Posted May 17, 2008 By AussieSapphire

Faceting Lap Kit 3Have just finished a tidy up of our Faceting Laps section – we hope it will now be easier for our customers to find which option best suits them.  We have a wide range of lap types and grits with some fantastic kits put together (8 kits to choose from).  Excellent quality products at already discounted prices – buy in kit form and you get even more off the price.

As we speak, we all know just how inflation is really biting and it hurts.  Our last lot of Diesel was $1.71 per litre and rising constantly, steel price rises of over 50% since Jan 08 and fertiliser and chemical costs for our farming are through the roof.  Bottom line is that everyone is affected!

Prices are on the rise everywhere.  This includes items such as Laps, Faceting Machines, Dops – almost anything that involves metal or expensive import freight will be going up in price as old stock runs out.  We try to keep prices down where we can so existing stock will remain at the old prices until we run out.  A great time to buy before prices go up.

Brand new Facetron faceting machineWe have one new stock Facetron Faceting machine at the old cost of just $3,500 AUD – the next machine will be a couple of hundred $$ more due to a factory price increase in April.  The Gemmasta at $3,900 is also good buying with the factory absorbing cost increases in metal as long as they can.  In all we have 4 complete machines in the storeroom (including one great second hand Gemmasta) so be quick to check these out. 

LAYBY:  we can, to approved customers, offer a Layby option on faceting machines (or our more valuable gems/parcels).  As a guide, purchases must total at least $1,000 AUD and be paid off in 4 equal monthly payments – if you are interested, please ask as you may be eligible (conditions apply, no interest!)

Mining continues although it becomes more challenging all the time.  Although bulk rough prices have increased about 40% since December 2007 mainly due to shortage issues, we are still faced with “mine run” prices around 10% below the levels just prior to September 11 (2001) when everything crashed around us. 

I hate to sit down and work out just how much the cost of production has risen in that 7 years – needless to say, it’s a damn lot.   Given that our costs of production are much much higher and prices received actually lower, it seems crazy that there are still a couple of us still persevering in the industry.  Mining for Sapphire in Australia remains marginal at best at current prices.

Thanks to you, our customers, Aussie Sapphire has continued to grow and prosper keeping Jobs in town so thanks for the support!

So I guess the main message is clear – old stock of machines, and accessories along with selected cut gems all represent a good buy.  Prices will rise and the value will hold well – if you’ve been considering a purchase, it might be a good time to get serious.

As always contact us if you cant find what you need online.  If you get a better quote from an Australian supplier, ask us – we will certainly try and match or better it if possible.  If you have any suggestions or comments, just mail them through.

Stay well and best wishes from Andrew and Leah Lane (www.aussiesapphire.com.au)