Burning slag dumps, New Jersey Zinc Company Refinery; Laboratories, Palmerton, Carbon County, Pennsylvania
Zincite is a mineral composed of zinc and oxygen, specifically the naturally occurring hexagonal form of ZnO (zinc oxide). This fine specimen fluoresces a brilliant yellow under longwave or shortwave ultraviolet rays; interestingly, it was formed on the dump of the refining and processing wastes of the New Jersey Zinc Co, which owned the Franklin and Sterling Hill mines, among others that were not in the Franklin area. The dump contained waste products from ore shipments from mines at Sterling Hill, New Jersey, and from the Friedensville area mines, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania as well as some from Belgium. These dumps were also used for discarded building products later evidenced by bricks impressed with the NJ Zinc Co logo. Likely there were other building products including timbers and other flammable material and probably some ores that were too low-grade to refine. But, somehow, along with the semi-molten slag supplying enough heat to start the dump burning, they smoldered hot enough and for long enough to volatilize the zinc in the thick piles of the burning dumps and when the zinc met enough cooling air near the surface of the dump, zinc oxide was the predominant quasi-mineral to form; in rare cases it was beautifully fluorescent. Since this occurred with the cooperation of Mother Nature and man, many purists do not consider these true mineral specimens, but this one certainly is a beautiful fluorescent specimen and has a strong tie-in to the vast lore that comprises the mythos of Frankin/Sterling Hill as well as that of fluorescent collecting in general. A superb, delicate pale green 3¼ x 2½ x 1-inch specimen, it was collected by Bob Murcer, a NJ Zinc Co chemist who kept similar pieces in his own fluorescent mineral collection. Completely natural zincite specimens are found only in minute traces outside of the Franklin area, where it comprises one of the three major ore minerals and in which it is virtually never fluorescent; two fairly small finds were made at the Sterling Hill Mine, the rarer thick-vein occurrence from the 180-foot level producing specimens that were somewhat comparable, but are extremely difficult to obtain. The other occurrence was in thin powdery seams within massive non-fluorescent zincite and the fluorescence was almost non-existent under shortwave light.
Provenance: Ex Robert Murcer, Hugh Ronemus Collections
Condition report available upon request.
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