Mineraltown

Minerals of slag heaps of Belgium

Minerals of slag heaps of Belgium

Author: Jean Dehaye

Content by courtesy of : JDMineraux  http://www.jdmineraux.net/
Reproduction of text and photos prohibited without permission of author.


Belgium was a famous place for coal mines between the end of the 19th century and 1970.(The last one closed in 1972) These mines followed an axis starting in the north of France and rejoining Germany, crossing the french speaking part of Belgium called "Wallonie", from Mons to Liege. It has let in our countryside a lot of little "mountains", the famous slag heaps.

Since a few years already, contaminated by some "old fighters of the micromineralogy" - God blesses them, I prospect the slag heaps of the Hainaut Province (center-south of Belgium) and of the north of France in the search of these small "stones" that the majority of people would still scorn… Recently, the guard to whom I showed the result of my research laughed at me:"And it is for that that you worked like a fool all the afternoon???" Nothing really impressing indeed… at first sight… But after sawing, cleaning and other "medical cares, that gave me 30 boxes including : "diamond" quartz, smokey quartz, biterminated smokey quartz, smokey scepter quartz, smokey scepter quartz with termination "diamond", phantom quartz, gypsum, aragonite…

Scepter quartz from a slag
Scepter quartz from a slag heap in Fontaine L'Evêque, Hainaut, Belgium. Size = 3 mm

Quartz on red siderite
Quartz on red siderite from Terril Rieu du Coeur, Quaregnon, Hainaut, Belgium. Size = 9 mm

Quartz from Terril Rieu du Coeur
Quartz from Terril Rieu du Coeur, Quaregnon, Hainaut, Belgium. Size = 5 mm

Smoky quartz on siderite
Smoky quartz on siderite, Terril St-Antoine, Boussu, Province of Hainaut, Belgium. Size = 5 mm

Smoky scepter quartz
Smoky scepter quartz from the slag heap Terril St-Antoine, Boussu, Province of Hainaut, Belgium. Size = 4 mm

Smoky scepter quartz
Smoky scepter quartz from the slag heap Terril St-Antoine, Boussu, Province of Hainaut, Belgium. Size = 4 mm

With an enlargement of 15X, the show is already extraordinary ! With the difference of minerals of big size which one can show and make admire with leisure, micro-mineralogy is certainly a more solitary pleasure - if I dare say -!But the variety of discoveries (60 species listed for the spoil heaps) and the perfection of the crystals exceed by far the possibilities offered by the "macro", at least in my country…To date, here a small inventory of my lucky finds:

OXIDES: quartz rock crystal, quartz "diamond", smoked quartz, biterminé quartz, phantom quartz, quartz sceptre, "milky" quartz, chalcedony > Spoil heaps of Boussu, Elouges, Havré, Flénu, Harchies Quaregnon, Bray, Anderlues

SULPHIDES: pyrite, marcassite > Harchies, Havré, Tertre, Trivières, Morlanwelz

CARBONATES: calcite, orange calcite, aragonite, ankérite, siderite, malachite > Tertre, Boussu, Wallers (Fr) Quaregnon, Elouges, Morlanwelz

SULPHATES: barytine, acicular gypsum, halotrichite > Havré, Boussu, Farciennes

HALOGENURES: salmiac > Gilly, Rieulay(Fr)

PHOSPHATES: vivianite, hydroxylapatite > Boussu, Wallers(Fr)

SILICATES: chamosite (variety of chlorite) > Wallers (Fr)

ELEMENTS: sulphur > Farciennes, Rieulay(Fr)

Boussu > St-Antoine;Elouges > Ferrand;Quaregnon > Rieu du Coeur and Fief de Lambrechies; Flénu > Terril 17; Havré > Bois du Luc; Farciennes > Terril du Roton; Bray > Terrils du Levant de Mons;Trivières>Terril du Quesnoy;Anderlues>Terril 6; Morlanwelz>Terril Sainte-Henriette

To look further into the subject, I return you to the excellent article of my friend Pierre Housen of the CGH (one of the "fighters" of the first line…), published in "Le Caillouteux" n° 107 (03-97);109 (05-97);111 (09-97);114 (12-97). SEE CLUBS PAGE of my web site : http://www.jdmineraux.net/

In conclusion, one can affirm that these artificial "mountains" that are our slag heaps are still privileged "hunting grounds" for micro mounters .Their surfaces are sometimes so impressive that the collectors did not succeed in yet making mineralogical deserts of them!

J.DEHAYE. Article published in Lithorama in 2000

Content by courtesy of :

JD Mineraux

  


Information | Mineral photos | VIDEOS | Articles | Fairs | Directory | Classified ads | Minerals Books | Shop | Rockhounding store