Miner Byron Weege with one of the first fluorite plates collected from the Black Sheep Pocket, June 1999.

The Black Sheep Pocket Zone – 1999 to 2003

The Black Sheep Pocket was first opened in early June 1999. After spending the better part of a month repairing and rebuilding infrastructure at the mine, attention turned to collecting. An alcove had been dug by the former tenants Lindsay Greenbank and Mick Sutcliffe on the east side of the original tunnel about 20 meters in from the portal, and some bits of green fluorite were exposed in one corner. Water had been plumbed into the mine, which allowed washing away of some of the copious amounts ubiquitous mud, and after a bit of washing and digging out rock in the alcove, the beginnings of a fluorite-lined cavity began to emerge.

Washing mud from the face at the beginnings of the Black Sheep Pocket, June, 1999.

The first opening into the Black Sheep Pocket.

Byron collecting at the Black Sheep Pocket on the day of discovery.

The pocket exposure widens.

Byron collecting in the Black Sheep Pocket after a few days of development work.

With development, the pocket was found to be a tube-like network of cavities in a section of flats extending eastward from the Greenbank Vein from a section of tunnel originally driven by Lindsay Greenbank and Mick Sutcliffe. The pocket zone was worked through the summer of 2003 and yielded much material, though top quality specimens were rare. The rock surrounding the pocket zone was highly silicified, requiring the use of a diamond chain saw to extract many of the specimens. Eastward extensions of this pocket zone – the Birthday Pocket (2001) and the Dipper (2002-2003) were encountered while driving a new section of tunnel to the east of Lindsay and Mick’s original workings. The Birthday Pocket yielded some very large specimens, though many were somewhat delustered and showed "white centers." The Dipper (so named because the fluorite zone appeared to plung into the tunnel floor) yielded a good amount of material, but the zone was highly fractured, and few were of top quality. Another short drift, referred to as the East Crosscut was driven parallel to the Black Sheep workings in 2002, just to the north along the original tunnel, and accessed the northern margins of the pocket zone. Only small amounts of material was found in this crosscut and it was largely of wholesale quality.

Byron splitting a plate of fluorite from the face of a large block of ironstone, August, 2001.

Fluorite exposed in the Dipper area of the Black Sheep Pocket Zone, August, 2002. Rolls of bubble-wrap were used to cushion specimens dropped from the roof of the pocket.

Specimens from the Black Sheep Pocket Zone

A penetration-twinned fluorite crystal, with galena and quartz. Collected from the Black Sheep Pocket in June, 1999.

A stalactite-like matrix of silicified limestone covered with twinned fluorite crystals and minor galena, 12 cm tall. Collected in June, 1999 from the Black Sheep Pocket.

A well-formed penetration-twinned fluorite crystal, 2.6 cm on edge, surrounded by smaller fluorites on silicified limestone matrix. Collected from the Black Sheep Pocket in August, 2000.

A group of twinned fluorite crystals on ironstone, 9 cm across. Collected in 2002 from the Dipper pocket, Black Sheep Pocket Zone.

A sketch map of the underground workings at the southern portion of the Rogerley workings showing locations of major pocket finds, 1999 through 2007.

Major Rogerley Pockets The Rogerley Archieves Bibliography and References The Bonny Bits