Namibias colourful mineral world

24 May 2021 | Tourism

Mentioning Namibia causes the eyes of most mineral collectors to shine and blink. Our diamonds have proven to comprise of some of the highest carats while mineral deposits such as the renowned Tsumeb Mine in the Otavi Mountains are common knowledge to friends and fans of beautiful minerals and gems.

By Nicole Grünert

Namibia’s colorful world of minerals is well-known beyond the country’s borders. Much wanted copper minerals such as Azurite or Dioptase (Photo 1) in the past fetched sky-high prices amongst collectors when originating from the Tsumeb Mine. This mine has been a real treasure box for mineral crystals. Here, more than 230 different minerals have been recorded, some of which are known to only be found on this site! These days, Dioptase crystals mainly hail from Kaokoland, where these much-wanted collectors’ items are found in several small deposits.
Also world-renowned are the amethyst quartz crystals from the Goboboseb Mountains south of the Brandberg (Photo 1) as well as Prenite, which also occurs there. These amethysts sometimes partially envelop so-called fluid inclusions, which comprise of gas bubbles. The local vendors market them as “water bubbles”.
From the Erongo, black tourmaline (Schörl, Photo 2) and aquamarine (Photo 3) are worth mentioning. These are being mined under adventurous conditions from pockets in the steep outer walls of the Erongo. The well-known colored tourmaline (Photo 4) is mainly mined from pockets in pegmatite veins, which occur around the Erongo Mountains.
Further much looked-after collector items are fluorite crystals from the Okoruso Fluorite Mine (Photo 5) as well as from the Erongo.
A unique assortment of minerals – albeit a very small deposit – are the crystals that are found in the Aris Phonolite Quarry, south of Windhoek. These not only have incredible names such as Tuperssuatsiaite, but more importantly some of the minerals occur in just very few places in the whole world, besides the Aris Quarry!
The Namibian minerals are not only wanted amongst collectors, they also contribute to the daily living of numerous local families. While the men mostly conduct the physically hard work on the mining claims, the women – evidently poor – try to sell these unique stones to tourists and visitors (Photo 6).