Sterling Hill to showcase giant slab

Ogdensburg. Viewing of a giant slab of ore at museum will starting in 2020, putting Sterling Hill Mining Museum on the map.

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  • PHOTOS BY VERA OLINSKI The ore mountain shows marks where quarry samples were taken above the slab cut.

  • Another view shows where the 44,000 lb. slab was cut from the mountain.

  • The 44,000 lb. slab of ore cut from the side of the mountain left a remaining smooth area.

Sterling Hill Mining Museum CEO and President Bill Kroth said the American Museum of Natural History quarried “a giant, 44,000-pound. slab of ore,” from the museum last November.

Kroth said at the beginning of 2020, Sterling Hill will be on the map, when 5 million people a year will visit the giant slab.

Right now, Kroth said, the slab is being thinned down and will be displayed in the Hall of Minerals and Gems. The new $340 million addition, he added, has “the most grandiose mineral specimens on the planet.” He continued, he believes the slab from Sterling Hill will “blow everything else away.”

Kroth explained, they are cutting the slab thinner, so the floor can support it.=

Museum Board of Directors Member Fred Lubbers pointed to the smooth remaining portion, where the cut was made on an enormous cliff.

Lubbers said he saw how the enormous piece had been cut off from the cliff. The museum drilled holes first in the slab, he said, and pushed a cable with diamond dust through the holes. In all, he said, the process ran really fast, and someone from Italy did the cut.

The slab was about 24 inches in thickness, Lubbers said, and the cable cut a groove and pushed the slab out, which then fell on a big pile of sand for cushion in front of it.

After they first cut the slab off, Lubbers said, the remaining smooth area was “gorgeous” with UV lights on the freshly cut area, showcasing veins of Willemite going up. He added the the museum is going to clean the flat area for future fluorescing, because Manganese in the ore turns black from reacting with sunlight, Oxygen, and water.

Above the cut, Lubbers explained, marks high on the cliff are where people in the quarry previously had taken samples by drilling holes and placing expanding foam to crack the rock. In the old days before, he said, they would have dynamited the ore out instead.

Lubbers pointed out how high the samples went up the cliff and explained the previous quarry had dug the whole area out. He added, around two or three years ago, the area was 15 feet higher. The ore from the mountain, he said, was Willemite, Calcite, and Franklinite all the way up. However, he continued, the ore was lean and not very rich.

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