Bunker Hill Mine Pyromorphite

The Bunker Hill mine is located in the small town of Kellogg in North Idaho's silver Valley, a historic and scenic region which has produced millions of ounces of silver along with significant zinc, lead, and other metals. While mines such as the Hercules and Little Giant in the Silver Valley were known for many years for their variety of pyromorphite crystals, the Bunker Hill mine redefined pyromorphite not only for the Silver Valley but for the world in 1981. Close to when the mine was being closed by its owner, Gulf Resources, Dan Clark, a mine geologist, started finding increasingly high-quality green to orange pyromorphite crystals on the 9 level of the mine, along the Jersey vein (Sorensen and Thompson 2008). Shortly thereafter, a series of major pockets were found, containing world-class specimens of vibrant, lustrous yellow, orange, and green pyromorphite crystals, as well as fine cerussite crystals. These specimens were marketed in Tucson the following year by dealers Harvey Gordon and Ken Roberts, and they caused an instant sensation in the collecting community. Over the following 10 years, while mining generally slowed down as depressed metal prices and environmental issues made it economically challenging, high-quality pockets of pyromorphite continued to be found occasionally.

In 1992, the Bunker Hill mine was sold to local mining man Bob Hopper Sr. While not a mineral collector, Bob had the foresight to realize that ore was ore, whether coming out "in cotton-lined boxes or ore cars", and he immediately went back to the pyromorphite zone on the 9 level of the Jersey vein and starting hitting good pockets. From 1992-1996, a series of excellent pockets were encountered through his tireless mining efforts, and once again Bunker Hill pyromorphite rivaling the early 1980's pockets appeared on the specimen market. Throughout his ownership of the Bunker Hill Mine, Bob kept some pyromorphite specimens for himself, and by the time he slowed down mining activity for specimens there around 2010, he had assembled a major collection of fine specimens from the mine, collected over an almost 20 year period. We are proud to offer some of these fine specimens here, both from Bob Hopper Sr. as well as his son Bob Hopper Jr. With the mine now closed and the major finds 20-30 years ago, high-quality pyromorphite specimens from the Bunker Hill mine are quite hard to come by on the modern specimen market, and this is a great chance to acquire a fine example for your collection if you don't already have one!

 

Left: Bob Hopper Sr. with a freshly-collected pyromorphite specimen. Right: Main adit of the Bunker Hill Mine as it looks today.