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Lukusuzi area

In a small area between the South Luangwa National Park and the Lukusuzi National Park and between the Lukusuzi and the Lukusi river lies an area of extraordinary richness in gem deposits.

Chilume: Half a dozen of mines are scattered across the gentle hills within a light forest of mostly quite thin trees within an area of less than a square km at Chilume. Countless untouched pegmatites are evident through float quartz, feldspar and occasionally even aquamarine on the forest floor. The Chilume mines produce aquamarine, morganite and green and pink tourmaline.

Lukuzi: About 10km of Chilume, a little South of the Lukuzi river are the Lukuzi mines which produced high quality aquamarine and heliodor for years. Another rich mine with very fine aquamarine was discovered early in 2015 only 1.5km away on the other side of the river. Within the six months before our first visit at the mine the pegmatite was mined in a pit extending over more than 100m several meters deep. Aquamarine of deep blue to greenish blue colour was found. The crystals are mined from pockets in the pegmatite.

Epidote mine: Only about 3-4 km away from Chilume lies the Epidote mine. The mine was named Epidote because the miners believed that the long and slender dark brownish-green crystals they produced from a pocket were epidote. The tourmaline occurs together with a bluish feldspar forming attractive specimens.

 

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Chilume; October 2013

Chilume: Early morning in Mwanya village. To the East of Mwanya there is nothing but untouched bush for the next almost 100km.Chilume: Early morning in Mwanya village. To the East of Mwanya there is nothing but untouched bush for the next almost 100km.

 

Chilume: Driving on bush 'roads' to the mines for several hours. To the untrained eye these roads are very hard to follow, because they are quite often not much more than a barely visible foot path.Chilume: Driving on bush 'roads' to the mines for several hours. To the untrained eye these roads are very hard to follow, because they are quite often not much more than a barely visible foot path.

 

Chilume: The morganite workings; morganite may still be found in the dumps, since the light pink stones were first not recognised as something valuable.Chilume: The morganite workings; morganite may still be found in the dumps, since the light pink stones were first not recognised as something valuable.

 

Chilume: View towards the 'tourmaline hill' from just up the hill at the morganite mine.Chilume: View towards the 'tourmaline hill' from just up the hill at the morganite mine.

 

Chilume: Typical Lukusuzi area landscape along the way to the 'tourmaline hill'Chilume: Typical Lukusuzi area landscape along the way to the 'tourmaline hill'.

 

Chilume: Searching for gems in the soil on 'tourmaline hill'. Unfortunately, illegal mining activities have left a battle field.Chilume: Searching for gems in the soil on 'tourmaline hill'. Unfortunately, illegal mining activities have left a battle field.

 

Chilume: Old amethyst pits just a few hundred meters further just underneath an old aquamarine mine.
Chilume: Old amethyst pits just a few hundred meters further just underneath an old aquamarine mine.

 

Chilume: The old aquamarine mine has been inactive for quite some time.Chilume: The old aquamarine mine has been inactive for quite some time.

 

Chilume: View towards the East; the border of the Lukusuzi National Park is only a few km away.Chilume: View towards the East; the border of the Lukusuzi National Park is only a few km away.

 

Chilume: Back on 'tourmaline hill' an aquamarine sample on the forest floor indicates that there might be more underneath.Chilume: Back on 'tourmaline hill' an aquamarine sample on the forest floor indicates that there might be more underneath.

 

Chilume: Dinner in the bush.Chilume: Dinner in the bush.

 

Chilume: The camp fire keeps lions, leopards and hyaenas away - as mentioned before: the National Park is not far.Chilume: The camp fire keeps lions, leopards and hyaenas away - as mentioned before: the National Park is not far.

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Lukuzi; Oktober 2015

Lukuzi: The mines at the Lukuzi river are surrounded by untouched primary forest. The trees remain small and thin because of the poor soil in the area.

 


Lukuzi: The Lukuzi river runs completely dry towards the end of the dry season.

 


Lukuzi: The Lukuzi mines lie close to the river within gentle hills.

 


Lukuzi: The old Lukuzi mines


Lukuzi: The hard pegmatite in the remarkably tidy pit

 

Lukuzi: The camp of the old mines

 

Lukuzi: The camp of the old mines

 


Lukuzi: Only a gemstone's throw away of the old mines a new occurrence was discovered early in 2015.

 


Lukuzi: Only hand tools are being used

 


Lukuzi: In October 2015 the pit was more than 100m long

 


Lukuzi: Mining the pegmatite with heavy tools

 


Lukuzi: When a pocket is hit, the miners change to finer tools.

 


Lukuzi: Some parts stained black testify for the fire setting to break the hard pegmatite.

 


Lukuzi: Several teams of four to five men work the mine

 


Lukuzi: One or two miners break the rock, the others shovel the wast material out of the pit.

 


Lukuzi: Knocking-off in the mine

 


Lukuzi: The pegmatite lies very steep - almost vertical

 

Lukuzi: Feldspar crystals in the pegmatite

 


Lukuzi: Working the pegmatite

 

Lukuzi: Precision work on a pocket

 

Lukuzi: Pocket in a pegmatit (filled with brown clay)

 

Lukuzi: Pocket in a pegmatit (filled with brown clay)

 


Lukuzi: Sorting the findings

 


Lukuzi: Aquamarine

 


Lukuzi: Aquamarine

 

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Epidote mine; October 2013

Epidote mine: Not far from Chilume; source of beautiful dark green tourmaline specimens on blue feldspar.

Epidote mine: Not far from Chilume; source of beautiful dark green tourmaline specimens on blue feldspar.

 

Epidote mine: It got its name from the miner's confusion of the dark green tourmaline crystals with epidote.

Epidote mine: It got its name from the miner's confusion of the dark green tourmaline crystals with epidote.

 

Epidote mine: Dark green tourmaline with cat's eye effect (50mm long).

Epidote mine: Dark green tourmaline with cat's eye effect (50mm long).

 

Epidote mine: Blue Feldspar sample (image width: 30mm).

Epidote mine: Blue Feldspar sample (image width: 30mm).

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