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Shinkolobwe U Minerals

Posted by Matt Wall  
Matt Wall April 02, 2012 07:14PM
Hi there everyone,
My name's Matt and I'm looking for any Uranium Minerals from the Shinkolobwe Mine, DR Congo, (especially Vandenbrandeite) any minerals, except Torbernite and Autunite, under the £30 or $50 mark are welcome. Just send me a message, preferably with pictures and I will get back to you!
Thanks a lot,
Matt =)
Byron Thomas April 02, 2012 11:15PM
Sorry i don't have any But Shinkolobwe is one of my favorite places to read about.
Van King April 03, 2012 01:59AM
One of the few people who regularly had Shikolobwe specimens for sale was the late Gilbert Gauthier. In the last ten years of his career, he rarely had any specimens under 200 E from that area. Even then, the only reason he had them was that he was the drilling supervisor at Shinkolobwe and he knew all of the Belgian geologists who worked there and he would buy their mineral collections from their estates. Alain Carrion has been selling the residue of Gilbert's dealer stock. Gilbert's personal collection of uranium minerals was sold when his late wife, Germaine, insisted he get those minerals out of the house. That was 30 years ago.

Best Wishes, Van King
Matt Wall April 03, 2012 07:28AM
Do you or anyone know where I can get hold of any Shinkolobew U Minerals?
By the way, I have heard of Gilbert Gauthier, I have seen some beautiful looking specimens with a G. Gauthier label on them on the internet somewhere and some of them are amazing.
Thanks for your help!
Matt =)
jacques jedwab April 03, 2012 09:10AM
A symposium on RDC ore geology was held in Tervuren on Dec. 2010, including Shinko ore geology and mineralogy. Several documents (mostly in French) were released on:

If not fully satisfying, the documents will help you tracing people active in the field you are interested in. There were no contributions from mineral collectors.
Matt Wall April 03, 2012 12:23PM
Thanks you very much for that link, I will look into it!
Matt =)
Valere Berlage April 03, 2012 01:24PM
For the fun, a link that will give you pictures of Shinkolowbe in the old times, more than 50 years ago! (pictures of the mines, the facilities, the visit of the Belgian king in the 1950's...). Although the industrial exctraction begun at a large scale in the 1920's, the needs linked to the 2nd WW justified a big developement of the place!
This is also in these moments than most of the collection speciments went out...
Most of the facilities and the main mine entrance were destroyed, sealed and flooded at independance, since at these times it was very strategical!
Difficult to imagine there was a whole town there...

All the best

Matt Wall April 03, 2012 01:45PM
What an amazing link, and an amazing place. Thanks for that Valere, it was really nice to see the social and geological context of the mine. The buildings surrounding it looked so well kept and tidy. The people there genuinely seemed to take pride in "their" mine.
Thanks very much for sharing with everyone Valere.
Keep your comments coming folks!!! =)
Jim Robison April 03, 2012 08:22PM
Some years ago, I was visiting with Gilbert at Tucson, and talking about the Shinkolobwe Mine. At one point while he was there the mine office had a large display case full of classic and very high quality specimens. A new manager came in, looked at the case, and ordered that all the specimens be taken to the processing mill so that their uranium content could be recovered and sold. No amount of pleading the case for preservation of these very high value specimens changed his mind, so into the mill they went. Some modest amount of uranium was recovered, and historic beautiful classic specimens were lost. Unfortunately, that kind of history keeps on repeating itself even today.
Rock Currier April 03, 2012 09:01PM
An amazing view of a colonial culture back in the day. On my visit to the Congo, I got to the mines in Kolwezi and saw the remains of the colonial infrastructure which was being continuously degraded and tried my best to visit Shinkolobwe. It was just a few Km outside of Licasi, but we needed the permission of the mayor of the town to visit the place and to view mineral collection that was left by the mining company. Both were refused. Knowing what I know now, I should have offered a couple of hundred dollars if someone from the mayors office could accompany us to the mine and act as a tour guide. It probably would have worked. Gilbert Gauthier told me of a particular mine tunnel at Shinkolobwe from which good Torbernite specimens had been collected. He felt certain that the specimens in this tunnel were the result of post mine formation, a bit like the development of stalactites in caves.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Stephen Rose April 03, 2012 10:18PM
At the Denver show in, I think, 1976, Gilbert had his usual colorful assortment that included most of a 6 foot table of wonderful torbernite specimens. I wonder if these were from that tunnel? I bought a nice cabinet specimen with a small matrix of dark sandstone for $500. The most I had paid for a specimen at that time. Wish I still had it!


Bart Cannon April 03, 2012 11:19PM
I know of a couple of dealers who still have Shinkolobwe materials for sale, but it is imprudent to discuss this matter on a popular website such as Mindat.

Was it Shinkolobwe that showed evidence of going "critical" ? A natural nuclear reactor.

Has anyone seen a specimen showing direct evidence of such ?

Stephen Rose April 03, 2012 11:40PM
Bart, it was Oklo in Gabon. Wikipedia has a pretty good summary.

Bart Cannon April 04, 2012 12:07AM
Thanks, Steve !

I would love to have a piece of Oklo, but it would be imprudent for me to receive it, and imprudent for anyone to send it to me.

Here in Seattle we have Homeland Security helicopters flying tight chopper grids 200 feet off the ground. They are equipped with sensitive radiation detection instruments.

Alfredo Petrov April 04, 2012 12:28AM
As Oklo stuff is severely depleted in U235, wouldn't it be less highly radioactive than other uranium ores? (Ignoring the usual daughter products.)
Harold Moritz (2) April 04, 2012 03:51AM
Obtaining specimens from Shinkolobwe is next to impossible as pointed out by Gilbert Gauthier, Armand François, M. Deliens, and P. Piret, in their 1989 Mineralogical Record article "Famous Mineral Localities: The Uranium Deposits of the Shaba Region, Zaire":

"It will be noted that for security reasons (the occurrence being considered a "strategic" mine), visitors have never been granted access to the Shinkolobwe mine since its opening in 1945, and the removal of radioactive samples has been strictly forbidden (with control by Geiger counter at the barrier at the mine exit). Only the Geology Department of Union Miniere has been allowed to remove samples for study to be taken to its mineralogical laboratory in Likasi, while the most beautiful or the rarest pieces were reserved for the UMHK museum there (called the Sengier-Cousin Museum). Thus there are very few private collections containing uranium-bearing minerals from Shinkolobwe"

Many specimens attributed to it likely came from other nearby Cu or Co mines that were not uranium mines but did possess U mineralization such as such as Musonoi, Kamoto, Swambo, Luiswishi, and Kambove (according to Min Record articles).
Matt Wall April 04, 2012 07:01AM
Thanks for that guys, I didn't realise how hard it would be to get would of some Shinko material. The mine manager must have been pretty mean and tight with his money to get rid of Gilbert's specimens.
Thanks for all your information, sometimes it's nice to know about the history, as well as the minerals!
Matt =)
Roger Van Dooren April 04, 2012 09:13AM
For any one eager tu purchase U specimens, there are always one or two dealers solding this type of minerals from Shinkolbwe or Musonoï the INTERMINERAL show held each year in November in Liége (BELGIUM)
I still have some very good specimens from these occurences in my collection, collected there in the time of Gauthier, but Y am not willing to sold them now....Perhaps later?

Lefteris Rantos April 04, 2012 09:19AM
Shinkolobwe material, as well as other U mineral specimens, does get available from time to time, from various web dealers. However specimens from Shinkolobwe are usually quite expensive, as they tend to be rare, often beautifully crystallized and colorful, and of great interest to rare species collectors.

Here are some examples of specimens recently for sale (admittedly not cheap at all):

However, with patience and alertness, one can find great bargains in the mineral market - and this includes even the rare U minerals! I have purchased a micromount of beautifully crystallized Masuyite on Uranophane from Shinkolobwe for something like $40-45, and a Vandendriescheite for about $30.

Elmar Lackner April 04, 2012 09:30AM
Hello Matt,
here in europe it's not impossible to get some specimens, but it will be hard to get them through US border controls (if that's your place of living). On belgian mineral fairs you can by regulary old material from Shinklobwe (and Musonoi, Swambo and all the others). In Liege (Lüttich) there is a regulary fair in november. There is a dealer every year, with a table (about 20meters) full of colorful U-Specimens (criticall mass not exeeded :-) ). The prize range will fit your wishes for the smaller and not to rare specimens (including Vandenbrandeite). Rarities in hand-specimens reaching 1000€.
Paul De Bondt April 04, 2012 09:35AM
Hi Matt,

Shinkolobwe specimens are difficult to find these days, even here in Belgium.
Very good samples are locked away in collections and museums and higly valued. Finding a " correct " specimen today for €100 is a miracle. Notice that this was always the case. The beauty and colour combo fixes the prices, like on every mineral specimen.

It is true that the mine have been sealed in the past but mining go on this day by illegal diggers.
Google up shinkolobwe and shinkolobwe signal and you will find a bunch of articles explaining the fenomenon.
The Belgians sealed the mine off to be sure the remaining uranium ore could not fall in the wrong hands. With this new generation of diggers, mostly soldiers who haven't been paid for descenia, they try to gain some money that way. A few died in collapsing stopes and the most are working without ANY protection. Nobody knows where the uranium ore is shipped too and will probably fall in the wrong hands. Most ore is shipped to Zambia and from there ........Rumors are going around that Iran is a very good customer but there is no proof of such and personally I doubt that this is the case.
Anyway, somebody must buy this ore otherwise it is useless to mine it.

Gorgeous specimens could be seen in the Tervuren museum but since politicians and ecologists from all kind of horizons, probably suffering from uranophobia or overprotectionism, the collection was sealed off in a especially designed bunker where nobody will see them again. Other museums through the world are doing just the same. Imagine you are hit by 1 µR, you could probably melt down right in front of the display case. And that's a mess to clean up. Ignorance has won over science.

Gilbert Gauthier worked at Shinkolobwe as said above and I knew him very well. He told me one day they stroke a massive uraninite lode who was 3 meters high. They worked it out in a few weeks. Imagine how many millions of R they had taken.

On shows here in Belgium, specimens show up sporadically but always in poor quality. Most specimens are also determined on sight and the specie is in 90% of the cases, wrongly labeled. The minerals from shinko are very difficult to determine because a lot are orange to red and some dealer have a lot of imagination to put an exotic name on them to boost the price.

BTW, autunite was never reported from Shinkolobwe nor any mines in the Copper Crescent.

I hope this helps.

Take care and best regards.

Lefteris Rantos April 04, 2012 09:44AM
Paul - indeed, I was very disappointed to see that the mineral collection (including the U minerals) were no longer on display in the Tervuren museum when I last visited it last year.

And as you pointed out, I forgot to mention that U minerals (including those from Shinkolobwe) sold by mineral dealers are VERY often misidentified....
Matt Wall April 04, 2012 12:06PM
I really appreciate the work that has gone into the feedback on the Shinko Mine, I never expected so many replies. I am already planning to go to Liege in November to see if I can track down any U Minerals from the stalls there.
Thanks to everyone, especially Paul, Valere, Elmar, Rock Currier and Harold, for all your help. I look forward to purchasing some of these specimens.
Matt =)
Paul De Bondt April 04, 2012 12:36PM
Thank you Matt,

If you wish, I can be your guide as I am attending the show every year.
Just one important thing. Lefteris is absolutely right about mislabeling.
Without pointing out persons, buy what you recognize and dont buy the name on the label.
As a systhematic Katanga collector, I used to do that in the 80's and 90's and all the sayrites, oursinites, bijvoedtites, protasites etc.... where not what was on the label. Even Gilbert Gauthier has been trapped with a parcell of Richetite who was simply black wulfenite.
And top of the bill, no refunding or exchange will be accepted. Gilbert, due to his stature, had some other specimens in exchange. I never did, even with a counter analysis by M. Deliens.
So be aware.

I hope this helps.

Take care and best regards.

Matt Wall April 04, 2012 01:42PM
Thank you for offering to be my guide, as Valere has already offered I will have to decide who to go with when I go; maybe I could see both of you! =)
Also, thanks for the advice on miss-labelling, I will have to watch out for that!
Thanks very much, Matt =)
Lefteris Rantos April 04, 2012 01:55PM

Could you be a little more precise about these Sayrites and Oursinites?

I have a micromount of "Oursinite", which looks just like the ones in the mindat gallery for the species
It is on Uraninite matrix, I don't remember any associations (I will look at it again this evening). Are there any hints to identify true Oursinite?

Also, I recently obtained a "Sayrite" - orange massive "blobs" in massive Uraninite, with some more crystalline Becquerelite. Could it be true Sayrite? It doesn't look any different from a low-quality Curite to me. I have also been offered another "Sayrite" in the past, which was obviously just a brightly colored Soddyite.

Paul De Bondt April 16, 2012 02:55PM

No problemo, I'm always in the vincinity of Valère's booth as he has always good specimens at fair prices. So we can probably meet there.


Oursinite is a real tough one. As I dont have one either, I dont have any idea what they look like. But according to the article in the MR by Gauthier and Deliens, the mineral is found in association with heterogenite stained secondaries. Drop me a mail if you need more specifications.

Massive orange-red blobs are easily labeled sayrite, protasite etc.... as it will give more profit to the fraudulent dealer.

A trick I use now with dealers, is, that I let him promise that he will refund if the minerals is not what labeled. Dont do this alone as it will be you word against his. Try to have some withnesses of the agreement, preferably people who are well known in the mineral world as references.

I hope this helps and hope to see you in Liège.

Take care and best regards.

Rudy Bolona April 16, 2012 05:34PM
A dealer friend of mine has a 3cm solid chunk of uraninite with a little bit of gold on it from Shinkolobwe. I believe the price on it is $1000. Everytime I see specimens from this locality they are ridiculously expensive, even the unimpressive ones.
Paul De Bondt April 16, 2012 06:01PM

Yes, I know. I used to sell these for 50 $.
It's the same with Tsumeb minerals. Try to find something cheap from there. Even the stupidiest smithsonite is going thru the roof.
Collectors and dealer know there is nothing coming out of these mine anymore and that boosted the prices.
Lately, I saw a Les Farges Pyro for sale, more expensive than a pyrargyrite from Peru for the same size.
What defines the value of minerals these days. I dont know anymore.

Take care and best regards.

Valere Berlage April 16, 2012 06:17PM
Paul and Matt,

I am not sure yet to make a booth this year, I will make one only if I have enough new stuff or duplicates that I can offer at Belgian prices, but whatever, I never miss Liège show which is my favorite in the country! Early wake up needed to get both good stuff at the best price. Belgian collectors are very requiring, liking both quality and reasonnable prices! I no booth, then I would give my hands to help for the set up for the club.

For sure, we'll end up meeting all 3 there, booth or not! Too early to fix agenda, but sharing dinner friday evening in the center of town would be great! There is an hotel at 50 meters from the showplace, along the river! A place ideal for a drink after with local dealers also! That's part of the fun! Paul sure knows better Shinko mineralogy than I does, and I went to Congo last year, so a lot to share!


The mix gold+uraninite is a big classic of Shinko. I am not a U collector, I sent the speciment with gold and a uraninite cube I had as a gift to a friend in Boston, a couple of years ago!

These combo's are so cool, I could not resist when I saw a miniature of uraninite, crudely but crystallized, with gold plates and even little wires in it, in another Belgian show this year, for available for 200 euros! That's Belgian prices...

Best regards

Łukasz Kruszewski April 16, 2012 07:21PM
Hi! You can ask Jarek Skupniewski at - he got some such minerals once :-)


Matt Wall June 02, 2012 01:05PM
Just a message to let everyone know that this offer of buying Uranium minerals still stands, so if anyone has any to sell just send me a PM or message on:
Thanks a lot,
Matt. =)
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