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.

Sheila Fleet at Cononish Mine Cononish hills

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!

Sheila Fleet with unrefined Scottish gold Sheila with Chris Sangster

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.

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.

Graham Donaldson images Graham Donaldson images Graham Donaldson images

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.

Scotgold images Scotgold images

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 with Scott Walter

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!

Sheila Fleet kiss collection