One of the most exciting and yet incredibly limited discoveries for Bolivian minerals. Bolivia is well-known for its phosphate minerals, but Hopeite (despite its fairly simple chemistry) has never been reported. This is not only a first-time find for Hopeite from Bolivia, but to the best of my knowledge, these specimens are the first ever Hopeites from South America! I acquired just a few of these specimens when I purchased the Phosphophyllites from this locality, and I honestly thought them to be a fairly common and unassuming associated species i.e., Barite. To the credit of Alfredo Petrov and Dr. Tony Kampf at the L. A. County Museum, they were able to verify that these specimens were indeed Hopeite! Hopeite is truly only known from a few world localities in fine crystallized specimens, the most famous being the Kabwe Mine (Broken Hill Mine) in Zambia. The pieces from Bolivia are reminiscent of the classic and highly sought after Zambian specimens, showing the same “tooth” like habit. As a matter of fact, when I acquired these specimens, the miner in Bolivia who found the specimens was referring to them as “dientes” (Spanish for teeth). This piece is filled with dozens of translucent, white to off-white color Hopeite crystals which vary in habit from slender “blades” to incredibly well-formed blocky orthorhombic crystals. If the immense rarity of a Bolivian Hopeite was not enough, this piece is associated with the incredibly rare, and highly desirable phosphate species, Phosphophyllite, which many collectors and dealers have dubbed the “Holy Grail” of minerals! The contrast of the satiny white Hopeite with the light blue-green Phosphophyllite sitting on the reddish-brown altered Sandstone matrix makes for an eye-catching specimen. Without question, these specimens stand as one of the greatest rarities that I have handled from Bolivia, and would make a superb addition to any rare mineral suite. This specimen was collected in late 2010, and to the best of my knowledge, no more have been found.
Locality: Huayllani mine, Infiernillos mine, Huayllani, Machacamarca District, Saavedra Province, Potosi Department, Bolivia
Specimen Size: 5.2 x 3.7 x 1.8 cm (small cabinet)
Largest Crystal: 5 mm
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Last updated 3 July 2022.
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