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LocalitiesCoronel Manuel Rodríguez mine, Mejillones peninsula, Mejillones, Antofagasta Province, Antofagasta, Chile

29th May 2019 00:15 UTCPavel Kartashov Manager

Somebody know, how and why lecontite and salammoniac grew "at a small pond approximately 2.7 km from the workings at Coronel Manuel Rodriguez Mine"? What source of ammonia is for these mineral formation? As I understood, the locality is copper mine, not salpeter or guano one. I see only one possible source of ammoniac in such quantities - NH4NO3 from explosives/ammonal.

Or these samples with doubleterminated transparent crystals of 6x3x3 cm sizes



aren't minerals at all, but simply synthetic shit similar to Polish "zincites", "chalcantites", "lopezites", "chermigites" and other "pruskites"!?

29th May 2019 00:22 UTCJolyon Ralph Founder

Good luck trying to find a "pond" within 2.7km of that site!

29th May 2019 01:19 UTCWayne Corwin

Maybe there is a chicken farm near by?

29th May 2019 01:47 UTCCecil Cosse


When I collected in the Monte Cristo Mine at Rush, Arkansas back in the days before the Park got their hands on it and closed it, I would find what I believed to be a sal ammoniac. I always assumed the ammonia came from the bat droppings, not that you have bats, but maybe you do. I don't know anything about the locality. Are there bats there in what I assume is a quite dry climate? Bats fly a long distance at night for food.

Have you been there at night to observe?

Cecil Cosse'

29th May 2019 01:51 UTCPavel Kartashov Manager

Thank you, Kevin.

I am think this locality should be divided from Coronel Manuel Rodríguez mine to distinct sublocality with photos of "the pond" from e-rocks report.

Source of such quantities of ammonia is still unclear. All chickens of Kentucky don't produce so many ammonia for a decade. :) :) :)

29th May 2019 02:00 UTCPavel Kartashov Manager


originally lecontite was discovered in bat caves of Honduras. But there is the different case.

29th May 2019 13:50 UTCKevin Conroy Manager

Hi Pavel,

I agree that the locality should be divided. I think that a pond about 2.7 km away from the mine is its own entity. To be sure I went to Google Earth to see if perhaps the pond was due to runoff from the mine. I actually couldn't find a "pond" that I could say with confidence is the one referenced in the e-Rocks article. If someone sees this and knows where the "pond" is please let us know!

Anyway, on Google Earth I measured out (the yellow line) about 2.7 km out from the mine. Using this radius I saw two possible candidates, but with the only clue being the photo from Roberto Rojas in the e-Rocks article who knows if either of these is it? In either case, given the arid climate, I'm fairly certain the pond deposit wasn't caused from mine runoff. It could have been the result from decades of minerals being leeched out of the ground during the infrequent rains, but this is just conjecture on my part...


29th May 2019 15:15 UTCUwe Kolitsch Manager

According to Chilean mineral collector Alex Ibánez (Pavel and other managers: see https://www.mindat.org/mesg-12-460816.html):

"This is toxic waste from mining company La Escondida. These wastes were formed in a mining tailings and have been commercialized by unscrupulous people. Do not buy or sell this garbage."

This would agree with the opinion of Chile specialist Gerhard Möhn who wrote me that the same anthropogenic material was also sold on e-rocks as coming from "Chuquicamata" ...

EDIT: Typo.

29th May 2019 17:58 UTCKevin Conroy Manager

Wow, this kind of information should have been shared with everyone well before now! Too bad someone didn't write a post about this sooner and share the information so all collectors could read it.

29th May 2019 19:51 UTCUwe Kolitsch Manager

Better correct an error late than never ;-)

29th May 2019 22:06 UTCKevin Conroy Manager

Uwe Kolitsch Wrote:


> Better correct an error late than never ;-)

Very true Uwe! Hopefully what we've reported is the truth, and I'm glad that it is out now.

However, I can't help but think about all of the mineral dealers and collectors who were impacted by the information being withheld until now.

I know some of the dealers who advertise on Mindat and have (or had) this material, and I believe that they are forthright people who wouldn't have sold this stuff if they knew what has been reported. Also think of the exponentially larger number of collectors who bought specimens, and imagine what they're thinking as they read this. Thankfully I wasn't one of the collectors who bought one, but if I had I would be VERY unhappy.

I think that those who knew about these specimens, and didn't spread the word, need to take a deep introspective look into their souls. Their integrity, morality and sense of duty to other mineral enthusiasts is obviously damaged or absent.

29th May 2019 23:28 UTCPavel Kartashov Manager

Well, everything fell into place. This "unbelievable accumulation of nitrogen minerals" turned out product of interaction of explosives with saline ground waters. Probably with participance of local bacterial fauna, which reduced NO3 into NH4.

The problem is solved and I can go to sleep. No miracles - gechemical laws still works at the Earth planet! :-) :-) :-) Pacem in mundo...

30th May 2019 14:03 UTCKevin Conroy Manager

I've shared the news from Uwe, and revised the description on the Coronel Manuel Rodriguez Mine locality page. Would one of the managers please review the update? I wasn't sure how much of the information from this discussion should be placed there.

I've also contacted e-Rocks and the FMF to inform them about this discussion.

30th May 2019 20:55 UTCP. R. Lemkin

It is still mentioned on the lecontite page....

31st May 2019 01:56 UTCHamish Sutherland

P. R. Lemkin is right, the locality has been deleted from the lecontite page but the photographs of lecontite from the "pond" are still there.

I purchased one of these specimens, thankfully not at the price that the first samples sold for. Was there any further relevant information regarding these samples in the message from Alex Ibanez?



31st May 2019 08:23 UTCAlfredo Petrov Manager

Lots of crystallized industrial waste products, like this one: https://www.mindat.org/gallery.php?loc=16149&min=39218

and mine waste products, smelter products, etc, end up in mineral collections, and I see no problem with this as long as buyers are informed about the origin. Apparently lots of collectors (and even professional mineralogists) are interested in and study such things. We need to keep the info on the appropriate locality pages, annotated of course. The database would be poorer and less useful if such entries are simply deleted.

31st May 2019 09:16 UTCUwe Kolitsch Manager

Moved all the many photos of this anthropogenic stuff, added note to Escondida mine page;

edited refs. + info for strike-out minerals on Coronel Manuel Rodríguez mine page and the text on the page itself.

31st May 2019 09:21 UTCKeith Compton Manager

I'm with Alfredo on this

To me at least there is no real difference from this to slag dump materials from Greece and the like.

31st May 2019 10:40 UTCFrank K. Mazdab Manager

my temptation would also be to keep them, with appropriate annotations. As long as the mineral growth was incidental to some other process and not the primary purpose, I too see the analogy with the the Greek slags, with the only real difference being their ages. And from an academic viewpoint, even these newer anthropogenic materials might represent some potentially useful samples for studies on mineral stabilities, extents of solid solution, morphological studies, etc., so there could be an unexpected legitimate reason collectors or researchers might even want to seek out these "specimens".

31st May 2019 14:10 UTCPavel Kartashov Manager

Presence of such abnormally large and clear synthetic crystals photos among head photos at mineral pages bring real and tangible harm.

You should to recognise, that I am not the most clueless user of the database. But just last week I refused to buy heklaite from Iceland, after I visited the its page on mindat. Sample of the natural heklaite seemed to me overrated in comparison with these synthetic crystals. :-(((

In my opinion, samples of synthetic and suspicious minerals should not get into head photos.

31st May 2019 14:55 UTCKevin Conroy Manager

Pavel Kartashov Wrote:


> In my opinion, samples of synthetic and suspicious

> minerals should not get into head photos.

I agree. This would be like putting a lab grown chalcanthite at the head of that mineral page.

31st May 2019 15:02 UTCJolyon Ralph Founder

I get very worried when we try to divide things between natural and synthetic based on suspected human intent (ie, happy accident vs deliberate creation).

Because this really can't ever be decided properly I am of the opinion that no such distinction should ever be made. If something is made because of the intervention of man to me it makes no difference whether that was a deliberate act or not.

Also. We have crossed out sal ammoniac from the page, but what about this photo?


31st May 2019 16:25 UTCUwe Kolitsch Manager

Looks like chalcanthite with copiapite. Message sent.

31st May 2019 16:40 UTCAlfredo Petrov Manager

I agree, Jolyon, that there is no mineralogical difference between deliberate and accidental synthetics. One either accepts them in a collection, or one doesn't, but trying to decide whether any given specimen of, say Polish zincite, was made accidentally or deliberately is a waste of investigatory effort and often indeterminable anyway.

31st May 2019 16:44 UTCPavel Kartashov Manager

Jolyon & Katya Ralph Wrote:


> I get very worried when we try to divide things

> between natural and synthetic based on suspected

> human intent (ie, happy accident vs deliberate

> creation).


> Because this really can't ever be decided properly

> I am of the opinion that no such distinction

> should ever be made. If something is made because

> of the intervention of man to me it makes no

> difference whether that was a deliberate act or

> not.

I am not agree. During Al production on walls of electrolytic baths garlands and crusts of cm-size crystals of chukhrovite-(Ca) forms in quantities of tons. And absolutely occasionally - nobody interested in their formation. And what, you don't see difference between this technical environment and natural processes in earths crust?

Or kilotons of carborundum forming as by-product in cocso-chemical batteries? No difference between it and natural carborundum?

What about sample https://www.mindat.org/photo-931195.html , it is difficult to judge by single sample without geological context. But I am have great impression, that it represented fragment of shore of bottom of the same "vitriol pond".

31st May 2019 16:51 UTCAlfredo Petrov Manager

Pavel, you misunderstood him. Jolyon did not say there is no difference between natural and synthetic, he said there is no difference between synthetics made deliberately and anthropogenic substances that formed unintentionally. Examples of the latter allegedly include zincite from Poland, heklaite from Florida, lecontite from Chile, colorful gypsums from Australia, Laurion slag minerals, coal dump fire minerals...

31st May 2019 19:46 UTCPaul Brandes Manager

I agree that there should be no distinction between something that is deliberately man-made and accidentally man-made. However, we must make definite note that it is still artificial and not natural. It's no different than comparing polar ice and refrigerator ice.

1st Jun 2019 04:53 UTCDavid Flynn

Hey guys, new user, but I've actually been researching the topic the past week, before coming upon this thread!

So I'm almost positive I found the location of the pond.

It's roughly 10-15km SOUTH of Antofagasta, 50km from Colonel Manuel Rodriguez Mine, and OVER 100km from La Escondida Mina.

I personally feel like the door should still be left open on this one.

I've attached a google maps image of the pond, as well as two reference pictures for distance from La Escondida and Colonel Manuel Rodriguez.




1st Jun 2019 05:04 UTCDavid Flynn

Another photo I had for reference.

1st Jun 2019 14:26 UTCKevin Conroy Manager


This may indeed be the site. I went to Google Earth and added terrain information (albeit rather poor info). After some scrolling around to different points of perspective I think I found a fairly close match to the photo of the location on e-Rocks:


However, I still wouldn't want anything from this location in my collection. The following is a post that I wrote on the Friends of Minerals Forum:

"To me, the distinction for the minerals found at the "pond" is that they would not have naturally formed there if not for the introduction of a solution carrying concentrations of elements/compounds much higher than what would have been at that location without human actions.

For an example let's consider chalcanthite. There are many chalcanthite specimens that formed as a result of human action. If it weren't for a mine adit, there wouldn't have been a void for the chalcanthite to crystallize in. However, the chalcanthite formed from natural solutions in the rocks, not from a hydrated copper sulfate solution introduced by the mining.

The minerals at the "pond" formed from an introduced solution with abnormally high (for that location) concentrations of ammonia. If you think of the "pond" as a giant outdoor container for a crystal-growing solution that you mixed at home, this is the point of view that I have for minerals from this locality."

1st Jun 2019 15:42 UTCDavid Flynn


What else could the highly ammonia concentrated solution be. Are we sure there is copper mining going on here?

1st Jun 2019 16:48 UTCBranko Rieck Expert

If you use Bing maps, you will find a different amount of "filling" to this "pond". The mine next to it is called "Mina El Way" with Bing and "Minera El Way" with Google.

1st Jun 2019 17:38 UTCDavid Flynn

That’s not what it was filled with. The blue you’re seeing is the substance that was left after it dried up. This photo would corrobate that as being the exact same location as the first photo was provided by the e-rocks article.


1st Jun 2019 18:40 UTCDavid Flynn

Showed my buddy over at the Tourmaline King mine in Southern California what I've concluded.

Here's what he had to say about the mining waste theory: "I don't see the tell tail signs of tunneling or quarrying. Almost looks like they cut in and found it. There's the possibility that it could be a spring that allowed the material to percolate out of the ore body and ended up in the bottom of the valley. That's how calcites form in pegmatites at the King mine. They gather up all the calcium in or around the peg body and recrystallize in pocket."

1st Jun 2019 19:31 UTCDavid Flynn

Chile is also home to many volcanoes.

Ammonia is a by-product of volcanic eruption which nobody has connected yet.

Subterranean fissures could have released ammonium and water via cryo-volcanic eruption.

1st Jun 2019 22:03 UTCUwe Kolitsch Manager

Coronel Manuel Rodríguez mine page updated.

To do: add pond site as new "locality" and transfer photos.

1st Jun 2019 22:39 UTCBranko Rieck Expert

As an addendum to my previous post and maybe also on the ToDo-list:

The "Mina El Way" is obviously producing limestone for building material and cement. The large open pit is at coordinates -23.839590, -70.395638 and the main production facility is at -23.847034, -70.373643.

1st Jun 2019 23:16 UTCDavid Flynn

At this point do you have any proof of the area being used for copper mining? Seems like an assumption still as opposed to fact.

2nd Jun 2019 00:04 UTCUwe Kolitsch Manager


With an interesting posting by Firmo Espinar:

"Hi everyone.

A professor from a mining school in northern Chile has told us this:

“I will tell you what I know about that.

First they were sold as Kronkite and Bloodite, but what I know is that they come from an illegal dumping of a mining area (I think it is material discarded from the solvent extraction stage), and due to the desert conditions they finally crystallized…

In fact, the leak is not close to Mejillones, which explains why there are people from Antofagasta who have some of these with insects inside which were trapped during the crystallization process.

In the local craft stalls and common minerals from Antofagasta it is possible to find many of them proposed as "Chalcantite." "

2nd Jun 2019 00:40 UTCRalph Bottrill Manager


Volcanic exhalations rich in copper and ammonia with little else would be pretty weird. But if you can show the material exhaling from fissures we may be onto something. The pond is obviously an artificial structure.

2nd Jun 2019 00:45 UTCAlfredo Petrov Manager

No need for it to be a copper mining area, just a place where waste from mining is being dumped, or chemicals are being dumped, or processing was being tried... lots of alternative explanations. I can't say which, because I haven't been there, but the one thing I can say for sure, just looking at the photos, is that the indicated "pond" is artificial, and not any natural kind of pond, swamp, or such.

Of course we don't even know 100% for sure whether the specimens in question even came from this "pond" at all, rather than from one of the other distant mines discussed above, but it does seem likely.

The "volcano theory" is highly unlikely too. First of all Chile's volcanos are very far away from this area, and they are not known to produce ammonium minerals anyway; Chile's ammonium minerals come from bird guano on the coast, not inland. Well, Nature does strange things sometimes and I'm prepared to be proven wrong, but at this point I think the burden of proof is on the "natural" camp. As Carl Sagan used to say, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, or something to that effect.

2nd Jun 2019 00:52 UTCRalph Bottrill Manager

Well put Alfredo

2nd Jun 2019 01:46 UTCDavid Flynn

I just wanted to make it clear, I'm not suggesting I'm right and anyone else is wrong. Alfredo, I've seen a few people suggest the high concentration of ammonium sulfate could be due to copper mining.

I have not made any conclusion on my findings because as of a week ago, we knew a lot less about this find than we do now. It just feels good to investigate all options and rule them out in order to find the right one.

This is totally a man-made pond from my research, I just wanted to eliminate all other options first and ask question that came up for me.

I feel like that's the right way to do it.

2nd Jun 2019 20:22 UTCPavel Kartashov Manager

Known and documented volcanic exhalations rich in ammonium are enriched also by arsenic, not copper.

And as already said Alfredo, Chilean volcans are quite far from the place.

Also, it seems to me, that we overappreciate amounts of copper in the pond. Ammoniac aquacomplex with copper is very bright. In this glass about 5 mg of copper dissolved in 10 ml of 10% solution of NH4OH.

After loosing of some water, the aquacomplex become marine green.

So salammoniac of such colour contains only quite negligible copper contents. Of course, there is no question of the presence of a chalcantite in the pond. Total resources of coper in the pond may be 100, may be 150 kg.

3rd Jun 2019 00:54 UTCTom Tucker

isn't the most logical source of significant quantities of an ammonium "ion", the large quantities of ammonium nitrate used in large scale mining these days ?

3rd Jun 2019 01:19 UTCPavel Kartashov Manager

Hi Tom,

read more attentively my posts in this thread. Begin from the first one.;-)

3rd Jun 2019 01:24 UTCTom Tucker

Agreed Paval. I just wondered why we were wandering around bat caves and volcanic vents.

3rd Jun 2019 04:44 UTCHamish Sutherland

Could the lecontite page be updated as the header photographs have La Escondida Mine as the locality, but this locality does not appear in the locality list. Does there need to be a separate locality entry for the tailings dam, provided that these specimens are actually from there?

If the ammonium ions are derived from the use of ammonium nitrate based explosives or the use of ammonia solutions in copper leaching, should there be a distinction between anthropogenic minerals found here compared with other sites such as abandoned mines. Some of the chemical constituents of the minerals from the La Escondida Mine tailings dam are not found naturally within the geological setting, whereas with abandoned mines the chemical constituents are derived from the geological setting and human activity has provided a suitable environment for the minerals to form.

I own one of these salammoniac and lecontite specimens and it must be the most aesthetic “toxic mine waste” that I have seen.

3rd Jun 2019 06:18 UTCKevin Conroy Manager

Hi Hamish,

Parallel thoughts from a parallel universe: https://www.mindat.org/forum.php?read,106,437964,464429#msg-464429

3rd Jun 2019 13:46 UTCPavel Kartashov Manager

More then two decades ago, when quantity of alkaly uranyl carbonates was low, I wrote report on U mineralization Oktyabrskaya mine. Whole bunch of Na-, Na-Ca, K- and K-Na-uranyl-carbonates was found by me on massive pitchblende samples. I even had try to divide two branches of oxidized associations - sodic superficial and potassic, connected with waters of more deep origin.

But very soon it become clear, that these ore samples were brought from mine in two sorts of polyethilene bags, taken at back yard of refinement plant. One of them were after NaOH and another after KOH. Secondary carbonate mineralization was formed very fast right into these bags at contact of wet ore samples with residues of reactives.

These phases formed very nice lemon yellow crusts with strong UV fluorescention. Exactly they were the most aesthetic “toxic mine waste” that I have seen.

3rd Jun 2019 16:29 UTCDavid Flynn

Something that hasn’t been mentioned. Any chance the salammoniac could be ammineite? My friends did XRD and believe that’s what it is.

3rd Jun 2019 18:23 UTCKevin Conroy Manager

Since there haven't been any opinions on Hamish's suggestion here (or Pavel's suggestion on the "Salammoniac" thread) about making the "pond" a locality/sublocality, here is my opinion. I think that the "pond" should not be a sublocality, rather a locality of it's own. To me the owner of the site is irrelevant. Yes, it is a property of the company that owns La Escondida Mine, but there are numerous mining companies that own many properties around the world, each being it's own entity. Since this is over 145 km away from the mine, to me it doesn't qualify as a sublocality. Not matter what is decided, I would suggest that we have a note on the La Escondida Mine and Coronel Manuel Rodríguez Mine pages directing users to the locality/sublocality page for the "pond".

Wikimapia has the "pond" labeled as "Relave Minera Escondida". Unless we can find a different name, perhaps this is what we should use.

3rd Jun 2019 23:06 UTCDavid Flynn

Kevin, I’m with you. New locality for sure. A lot has been uncovered this week.

4th Jun 2019 11:04 UTCUwe Kolitsch Manager

> Wikimapia has the "pond" labeled as "Relave Minera Escondida". Unless we can find a different name, perhaps this is what we should use.

Sounds good.

Relave - https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relave

would translate to

tailings - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tailings

It does't quite fit this place, but "Tailings pond" might be ok.

4th Jun 2019 12:04 UTCJolyon Ralph Founder

Agree needs to be a completely separate locality

5th Jun 2019 12:52 UTCPavel Kartashov Manager

And meanwhile, a new offer from Poland:
NEW! Looks Like Aquamarine - TOP Luster Sky Blue ARCANITE on MATRIX from POLAND



And please don't tell me, that this material has any mineralogical value.

5th Jun 2019 13:11 UTCErik Vercammen Expert

At least, these are nice crystals.

5th Jun 2019 13:18 UTCPavel Kartashov Manager

Because apart from these crystals in the box, there are a pile of not nice crystals at the backyard of the lab. ;-)

Note that "matrix" for this "arcanite" is plagogranite chunk. Here is deep geochemical and mineralogical sence in this.

5th Jun 2019 14:38 UTCJeff Weissman Expert

But, I wanted green colored artificial arcanite crystals.

Pavel, have you seen the large artificial fluorite crystals displayed at the Mineralogical Museum in Novosibirsk?

5th Jun 2019 14:42 UTCJeff Weissman Expert

I recently came across some more of these "Salammoniac and Lecontite" crystals, this time from "Unspecified Pit, La Negra, Antofagasta, Antofagasta Region, Chile" Not sure how this new "locality" is situated compared to the above discussion.

5th Jun 2019 16:38 UTCUwe Kolitsch Manager

> "... came across"

On E-bay? or How?

5th Jun 2019 20:48 UTCDavid Flynn


They're just mislabeled. They're 100% from the relave we located.

5th Jun 2019 22:30 UTCKevin Conroy Manager

La Negra seems to be the nearest named place, so it's OK. As David stated, the "Unspecified Pit" is the same locale for the specimens, they're (as are we) just trying to put a valid location on it.

18th Jun 2019 20:26 UTCKevin Conroy Manager

It's been a while since this topic has been discussed, so I wanted to be sure that there aren't any unresolved issues before making a locality page for the "pond".

If "no", then here's a proposal for the name (and hierarchy): Relave Minera Escondida, Estación La Negra, Antofagasta Province, Antofagasta, Chile

There's already a page for Estación La Negra: https://www.mindat.org/loc-281328.html

Also, should all/some of the location description from the Coronel Manuel Rodriguez Mine page be included? It is the following:

"NOTE on the mineral list:

Recently, "kröhnkite" and "blödite" were reported to have been collected at a small pond approximately 2.7 km from the workings at Coronel Manuel Rodriguez Mine. They turned out to be salammoniac (coloured by inclusions of copper minerals) and lecontite, respectively (https://e-rocks.com/blogs/1/chilean-blues-update-find-coronel-manuel-rodriguez-mine).

However, subsequently (see https://www.mindat.org/mesg-105-464001.html, May 2019) the following information was provided by the Chilean mineral collector Alex Ibánez:

"This is toxic waste from mining company La Escondida. These wastes were formed in a mining tailings and have been commercialized by unscrupulous people. Do not buy or sell this garbage."

This would agree with the opinion of Chile specialist Gerhard Möhn who wrote that the same anthropogenic material was being sold as coming from "Chuquicamata" (pers. comm. to Uwe Kolitsch).

Still later (see https://www.mindat.org/forum.php?read,106,437964,437964#msg-437964), the pond was clearly located on Google Maps; it is about 50 km from the Coronel Manuel Rodríguez mine. It strongly appears that the pond was used for ammonia leaching of copper ores."


23rd Jun 2019 01:25 UTCKevin Conroy Manager

I created a page for the "pond": https://www.mindat.org/loc-311511.html

I was wondering if a manger could add the valid minerals for this location (even though they are anthropogenic), as well as the erroneously reported minerals, to ensure that proper references are recorded.

23rd Jun 2019 01:40 UTCJolyon Ralph Founder

Great, just one thing Kevin - the name "Relave Minera Escondida" should be translated into English in the same way that mines are not Mina Ojuela, but Ojuela mine.

The "Relave Minera Escondida" name should be assigned to the spanish language name version in the languages section.

23rd Jun 2019 02:11 UTCKevin Conroy Manager

Thank you for adding the minerals Jolyon! I changed the name to "Minera Escondida tailings pond", and added "Relave Minera Escondida" as the Spanish language name.

23rd Jun 2019 09:42 UTCJolyon Ralph Founder

Perfect, thanks Kevin!

11th Jul 2019 18:24 UTCUwe Kolitsch Manager

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