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Big Bell Gold Mine (Paton's Find; Murchison Bell), Cue, Cue Shire, Western Australia, Australia

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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 27° 20' 8'' South , 117° 39' 38'' East
Latitude & Longitude (decimal): -27.33544,117.66048
GeoHash:G#: qe5smrtxr
Locality type:Mine
Köppen climate type:BWh : Hot deserts climate

Located 24 kilometres west of Cue.

This gold deposit was discovered in 1902, and was known at the time as Paton's Find. Near surface mining was undertaken until 1936, when a larger open pit operation was developed by Big Bell Limited or Premier Gold Mining Company, and the town of Big Bell established.

Between 1904-1955 when the first stage of mining ceased, 730 000 ounces of gold was recovered. When the mine closed, the town was deserted virtually overnight, and all that remains is the substantial ruin of the Big Bell Hotel, reputed to once have held the longest bar in Australia.

The town was the terminus of the Murchison Railway, opened 06 January 1937 and closed 31 December 1955.

Renewed interest in the mine started in 1980, and has seen a procession of different owners since. The mine was re-opened in 1980, jointly by ACM Limited and Placer Pacific. In 1999 the mine was purchased by New Hampton Goldfields Limited. At the time the mine had suffered a series of seismic events leading to rockfalls or rockbursts in the underground mine, killing one worker. New Hampton was taken over by Harmony Gold in 2001, who closed the mine in 2003, after finding it uneconomic. The mine was sold to Monarch Gold Mining Company in 2008, who went into administration later the same year. The processing plant in 2007 was transferred to the Edna May Gold Mine at Westonia. The mine was sold to Fulcrum Resources in 2010, and later the same year the company was acquired by Aragon Resources, who re-named the mine Murchison Bell.

The mine is found in a narrow, steeply dipping, locally overturned greenstone belt, bounded by granite. The lowest mafic sequence shows flow basalt, with a later layer of ultramafics, graphitic sediments, and banded iron formations, with thin cross-cutting porphyry dykes.

This graduates to a felsic volcanic sequence, 1500 metres wide, structurally overturned, striking 30 degrees, and dipping 75 degrees to the east. It includes andesite, dacite, rhyodacite, and rhyolite, with minor dolerite and gabbro igneous rock. To the east of this zone is overlain by 600 metres of amphibolite. To the west is found chlorite schist of garnet, biotite, cummingtonite, and amphibole.

Lastly the upper zone is a mafic sequence of basaltic flows with lesser ultramafics and sediments.

The ore zone is 50 metres thick, 450 metres long and at least 1400 metres deep. Gold is rarely visible. The ore zone is highly altered and metamorphised quartz-muscovite and potash feldspar rich schist, with amphibole, biotite and numerous garnet-biotite bands to its north. Gold is found mainly in quartz, K-feldspars, and sulphides, mainly pyrite. Pyrite makes-up 10% of this zone, with numerous varieties of other sulphides to a lesser amount, which the reference unfortunately does not name.

Commodity List

This is a list of exploitable or exploited mineral commodities recorded at this locality.

Mineral List

35 valid minerals.

Rock Types Recorded

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Regional Geology

This geological map and associated information on rock units at or nearby to the coordinates given for this locality is based on relatively small scale geological maps provided by various national Geological Surveys. This does not necessarily represent the complete geology at this locality but it gives a background for the region in which it is found.

Click on geological units on the map for more information. Click here to view full-screen map on Macrostrat.org

Neoarchean - Mesoarchean
2500 - 3200 Ma

ID: 3187503
Archean intrusive rocks

Age: Archean (2500 - 3200 Ma)

Comments: Yilgarn Craton

Lithology: Intrusive igneous rocks

Reference: Chorlton, L.B. Generalized geology of the world: bedrock domains and major faults in GIS format: a small-scale world geology map with an extended geological attribute database. doi: 10.4095/223767. Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 5529. [154]

2500 - 4000 Ma

ID: 770053
hi-Ca granite 74296

Age: Archean (2500 - 4000 Ma)

Description: Monzogranite, granodiorite, tonalite, quartz monzonite; in places recrystallised and foliated; some mixed granite and country rock assemblages; high-Ca granite

Comments: igneous felsic intrusive; igneous intermediate intrusive; synthesis of multiple published descriptions

Lithology: Igneous felsic intrusive; igneous intermediate intrusive

Reference: Raymond, O.L., Liu, S., Gallagher, R., Zhang, W., Highet, L.M. Surface Geology of Australia 1:1 million scale dataset 2012 edition. Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia). [5]

Data and map coding provided by Macrostrat.org, used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License

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Turner, M.H., Player, J.R.(2000): Seismicity at Big Bell Mine, Proceedings Massmin, Australiasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy(2000): 791-797

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