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Port Moody gem club rocks out with sulphur

The 38th annual Port Moody Rock & Gem show runs Oct. 29 and 30 at the Kyle Centre in Port Moody.
Hannah Danneffel holds a specimen featuring galena cubes. Galena is lead sulphide, the chief ore of lead, and is one of — if not — the most common sulphide mineral.

For many Tri-City residents, the large sulphur piles on the shores in front of Pacific Coast Terminals (PCT) is a commodity seen every day — either on a commute to work or from Port Moody homes and parks.

This month, the Port Moody Rock & Gem Club wants to honour that industry by making Element 16 the focus of its annual exhibition.

The 100-member group will mount Seeking Sulphur: From Resource to Precious Stone, at the Kyle Centre on Oct. 29 and 30 — a subject the club felt was long overdue given its importance in the community.

Organizer Andrew Danneffel said PCT will have presence at the show to allow company officials to talk about its exporting business as well as the need for sulphur around the world.

Sulphur is the 13th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and the raw material can be found in thousands of products: from food and medicine to paint and textiles.

But it also plays a valuable economic role when its mixed with metals, he said.

For example, when sulphide ores are combined with lead it creates galena, an important source of silver. When sulphur marries with copper, you get chalcopyrite. And when put with iron, it makes fool’s gold.

A lapidary will also know that sulphur gives lapis its dark-blue colour.

“It’s a fantastic element that everyone should know more about,” Danneffel said, adding, “Certainly, when we started to do our research for the show, we learned so much about it. Did you know that Canada is the largest exporter of sulphur in the world? And yet here we have it in our back yard.”

The club will have many sulphur examples on display from Canada (lapis), Chile (lapis), Afghanistan (lapis), Romania (stibnite), Spain (fool’s gold), the United States (sphalerite) and Bolivia (yellow crystals).

As well, it will show fluorescent rocks or sodalite from Quebec, Ontario and Afghanistan; under the light, sulphur behaves as activators.

Danneffel has also collected BC sulphide ore samples from MineralsED that will be on the table belonging to club member Erica Williams, a science teacher at Port Coquitlam’s Riverside secondary school who has found fossils around the Tri-Cities.

As well, they’ll be sulphide ore and gold samples from the Britannia Mine Museum and Bralorne Gold Mine near Lillooet.

• The 38th annual Port Moody Rock & Gem show runs Oct. 29 and 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Kyle Centre (125 Kyle St.). Admission is by donation. Refreshments will be available for purchase.


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