Sheila Fleet Blog

Cononish Scottish Gold

Scotland’s hills are full of gold! And Sheila saw the first Scottish Gold being produced!

Cononish Mine, Scotland’s newly launched gold mine, officially opened on 3rd August 2016. Sheila was delighted to be invited to the Mine to watch the first gold being won from the rocks. The mine is situated on a hillside near Tyndrum in the West of Scotland with a view down the valley.

IMG_4484 smallView from Cononish mine

It’s exciting times – in the photo below Sheila is holding unrefined Scottish Gold from Cononish, this compact nugget is worth £10,000! Helping drive the whole project forward was mining engineer, Chris Sangster, on left with Sheila. Thumbs up to a successful future for Cononish Mine!

IMG_2529IMG_4543

Inside the mine the tunnel follows the “Cononish Vein”. This is a vein of quartz rich crystals. It cuts through the hillside and is about 2-5m thick and over 600m long. The vein formed when hot fluids rose from the core of the earth and filled a fault line in the existing rock structure. These hot fluids dissolved minerals in the granite and surrounding rock as they flowed. When the fluids cooled, about 400 million years ago, the gold and other minerals precipitated out as the quartz rock crystallised.

Most gold is too far underground to allow recovery to be feasible. It’s only when geological events, like the quartz veins, bring it nearer the surface that mining becomes economically viable. The Earth’s gold actually comes from outer space. Gold is created when stars explode. Asteroids then brought gold to our planet when the Earth was still young.

inside Cononish mine

To reach the Scottish Gold in Cononish, the mine is using traditional, environmentally-friendly methods. Firstly, the engineers blast the quartz Cononish vein. Quartz sections which contain high concentrations of gold are chosen. The photo shows the “Ghost of Cononish”, a vein rather smaller than the Cononish vein but showing how the veins have formed in the surrounding rock.  Meanwhile the photo on the right is a close up of the Cononish vein containing many minerals including silver and gold. We thank Graham Donaldson for his photos – see https://twitter.com/GrahamScotgold

Ghost of ConanishCononish vein close upCononish mine stone

The rubble from the blasts is then gathered and transported out of the mine. Next it is ground down and the gold and silver extracted with the help of a shaking table and fluid. It’s a similar technique to panning for gold. All gold and silver in the UK belongs to the Crown Estate. Hence, ScotGold Resources Ltd have an agreement to pay royalties for the gold and silver they mine in the Cononish area. Thanks also to ScotGold for the photos below – for more information see www.scotgoldresources.com.au

Cononish mine shaking tableCononish mine gold

Below Sheila is with Scott Walter, Assay Master at the Edinburgh Assay office. All gold jewellery made in the UK must be hallmarked. Sheila hopes the Edinburgh Assay office will introduce a special hallmark to show the purity and provenance of Scottish Gold. Sheila is holding a button of refined Scottish Gold. Although little bigger than her thumbnail it is worth around £500.

Sheila Fleet Cononish mine - 4

And finally, Sheila says she can’t wait to get her hands on some this gold and to create some jewellery which is:

“Designed and Made in Scotland with a Touch of Scottish Gold”

Sheila will be creating some new designs as well as considering Scottish Gold in existing designs.  The Kiss collection has a touch of gold on silver with handset diamonds. Perhaps in the future the touch of gold might be Scottish Gold – watch this space!

Kiss

Kathleen

Sheila’s son Martin grew up in and around the Orkney Workshop while cousin Kathleen remembers Sheila visiting her mother, Sheila’s older sister, with exciting new designs from a very early age. Between them Martin and Kathleen will keep you up-to-date with Sheila Fleet Jewellery news!

More articles by Kathleen
Have your say
  • Gary Smith

    Hi Sheila

    Myself and my better half had the opportunity of visiting the mine yesterday. The weather was glorious and the tour and presentation fascinating. The people who run the mine are friendly and hospitable and was well worth the 4 – 5 mile walk each way (our choice, it was a lovely day).

    We are really looking forward to seeing some special jewellery made from this very rare source of gold.

    Regards
    Gary and Roslyn

    • Kathleen at Sheila Fleet

      Hi Gary and Roslyn
      I was on the morning tour on 7th Sept with my partner Philip! It was indeed fascinating and Sheila can’t wait to start using Scottish Gold from Cononish in her designs. Keep an eye on our Facebook page and Blog for news. Thanks for your comment, I’ll show Sheila. All the best, Kathleen

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