Wulfenite

Collection Highlights | Updated 3 years ago

An unusual, bright yellow mineral
Wulfenite
Photo from WA Museum

The Whim Creek (or Whim Well) copper mine has proven to be one of the Western Australia’s most significant mineralogical sites.

Discovered around 1887 by the prospector Phillip Saunders, the first mining commenced in 1889, and the mine has operated sporadically for over a century, right up to the present day.

At Whim Creek, the gradual weathering of an ancient sea-floor copper-lead-zinc sulfide orebody has produced a diverse assemblage of secondary mineral species, including the eye-catching wulfenite (lead molybdate).

In 1985, a substantial number of specimens were collected from the large working known as the ‘Ball Room’ and other areas of the mine, and these are now widely distributed among museums and collectors.

Some wulfenite crystals are up to 9 mm across, but more commonly they are 1–2 mm in size, scattered on dark brown to black goethite (iron oxide).

Wulfenite crystals range in colour from pale yellow to orange, and are rarely colourless. Both tabular and bipyramidal (like two pyramids joined at the base) crystals of wulfenite occur in the Whim Creek mine.

Mineral Collection