"And some run up hill and down dale, knapping the chucky stones
to pieces wi' hammers, like so many road makers run daft.
They say it is to see how the world was made."

Sir Walter Scott
St. Ronan's Well 1824

The NZ Micro-Mineral Club is based around the annual Labour Weekend Symposium and publication of the Club Newsletter "Micro-Scope" (published quarterly).

The last New Zealand Micromounters Symposium (20th) was held at the Matai Baptist Camp, Nelson at the top of the South Island over the weekend 25-29th Oct 2002.
 Details of the 2003 Symposium to be held in Dunedin will be posted here soon.
For further information contact Rod Martin or Jocelyn Thornton

Aquiring minerals in China
Rod Martin

Fluorite I got a lot of advice from others about where to buy Chinese minerals but the premier spot for minerals is Guilin - the  Guilin Tourist Commodity Market with 60-80+ mineral shops!! About  30Y by cab from railway station (2Y by bus).
Prices ranged from very cheap (20-25Y for small cabinet specimens of green fluorite with multiple 25-30 cm cubes) to Tuscon prices. Buyers were very rare and the two I met were from Taiwan, for my part I was assumed to be American - next time I will get a shirt made saying (in Mandarin) "I am NOT an American!". The shops appeared to be surviving on the odd sale of one or two large cabinet/Museum sized specimens per year.
Guilin mineral shop

Some shops only wanted to deal in USD but most were negotiable on price. Large specimens predominated but a few had trays of micros to thumbnails of local grass-green and yellow pyromorphite and other material at good prices. There was so much of it (pyromorphite) available that I really didn't click as to how good it actually was and didn't even realise until I'd left China that one of the dealers talked about collecting the material himself. Will try and pursue this on my next trip, must be more than just pyromorphite available there.
Posted around 18 kgs of mixed material home (at around 10x the cost of the specimens). Lots of  tektites avail @ ~50Y/kg but did manage to get this down to 33Y/kg for selected items. Saw some really nice teardrop and discoid shapes but dealer wanted 8USD each for all tektites - in retrospect should have pursued the teardrops as never saw any more. Guilin micros
Good advice for anyone would be to go one day and check the range then head off to an internet cafe and check selling prices in the US then return knowing something of the value and rarity of the specimens. Bargaining is normally tough work (although the fluorites I bought at opening price) with most of my buys at @ 10-20% of opening price.

The name of a good weekend market in Beijing for minerals is Pan Jia Yuan Curio Market.
Beijing fossil stall It is open on weekends only and runs from about 6.30 am through to about 4.00 pm. Huge range of curios- a lot of replicas and fakes- but attended by many of the locals which means that there is a reasonable standard of goods overall. Bought a couple of specimens there but nothing really outstanding available in the small sizes I was after. Lots of good large specimens though!
The Beijing Geological Museum is supposed to be first class and I think that there is some sales tables there (was closed for renovation during our visit but should have reopened by now) as well as in the Natural  History Museum. The galleries there were really good although the dinosaur section is looking a bit tired. There used to be a series of mineral and fossil sellers on the road outside the Museum but they have now gone to places unknown - this is evidently a common occurence in China and is frustrating as you spend a lot of time trying to find their new location.
Out the back of the Geological Institute of Beijing (26 Baiwanzhuang Rd Beijing) is a small shop where Institute members sell their specimens (at least thats what I think they were telling us!).  Nice range of fossils and minerals although again mainly too large for me (included 2m x 1m panels of fossil sea lilies/crinoids).

Fluorite 2 In Datong there was little in the mineral field but lots of Lycoptera and  Jianghanichthys?(fish fossils) - Didn't really want any but just kept insisting that I would only pay 10Yand finally they agreed!! but still wanted 15-20Y for the Jianghanichthys? Dont know whether it was just a local oversupply or if this is the base price. Previously thought that 20Y (Beijing market) was about the lowest for reasonable Lycoptera specimens. If buying fossils in China then you need to be very careful as there is a lot of fakes out there, also dinosaura material is prohibited from export without a permit (Death penalty for Locals caught exporting illegal material!!). If you post any  material then it must be packed in front of the PO inspector and they won't allow you to send any suspect material and printed newspaper is NOT allowed for packing. Soap powder (flakes) is a cheap and effective protective packing and is easily removed -  most tissue paper in China seems to disintegrate and get caught in the specimens. Guilin quartz

Two other good places for minerals are Wuhan and Changsha but I didn't get time to check them out. It pays to take a couple of pages of mineral photos to show to all and sundry - I carry them with me all the time and constantly show them around. There are many mines and mineral dealers in these two cities and once the word gets out  it is supposed to be very good buying. Show the pictures to hotels, cabdrivers cafe staff etc - some Mandarin is an advantage.

Contacting local geologists is a good idea as many speak English and most have some specimens that they will sell  or will know someone with good material.

After four weeks in China we travelled across to Taiwan to spend a couple of weeks with our children who are both teaching English there. Research via the Internet hadn't shown much in the way of minerals available there so was surprised to find that Taiwan must be the Rockhound capital of the World. It seemed that one in every ten shops or stalls had rocks and minerals for sale. The material is mostly imported from South and North America with a much small percentage from Asia. Mislabelling of origins is rife with American and European material commanding the best prices. I saw sacks of Kauri gum for sale marked as Romanian. (Looked like Kauri gum, smelt like it and was packed in NZ sacks!!) Much of the obviously Chinese material was also relabelled as these are seen as inferior specimens.

Prices were horrendously high for all material but buyers were still plentiful including Companies buying for foyer displays. It was also interesting to frequently pass shops with microscopes on display but prices were much higher than in Hong Kong although still less than NZ prices.  The Pan Jia Yuan Curio Market in Beijing also had a stand selling  hand lenses (20x @ 5NZD) and pocket microscopes (40x, folding @ ~50NZD and 50x with light @ ~60NZD)



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Updated 1/04/2003