Very large plate of translucent blue-green botryoidal smithsonite on gray matrix. The bottom was sawn flat to reduce bulk without damaging the smithsonite crystals. The smithsonite is lapidary-grade (carving or cabochons) and varies from 5-25 mm thick. Ex Ernie Schlichter (1929-2007). Overall Size: 28x17x5.5 cm. Locality: Mina El Refugio, Choix District, Sinaloa, Mexico. Source 

When Chester Beatty died on January 19th 1968, at the age of 92, The Times of London said that: “He was the greatest of all living figures in the mining industry, and with his passing the world has lost one of its most romantic characters

Chester Beatty was an extraordinary mining magnate and a collector of all sorts of things from an early age – minerals, Chinese snuff bottles and stamps. An adult Beatty expanded his collections by buying European and Persian manuscripts. He found another line of interest in 1914, when he and his wife Edith visited Egypt and bought some decorated copies of the Qur’an in the bazaars. The dry climate suited Beatty and he bought a house near Cairo, where he was to spend many winters.

A journey to Asia in 1917 added Japanese and Chinese paintings to his interests. He was particularly attracted to richly illustrated material, fine bindings and beautiful calligraphy, but he was also deeply committed to preserving texts for their historic value.

In 1950, Beatty decided to move to Ireland where he built a library for his art collection on Shrewsbury Road in Dublin and which opened in 1954. In 1957 Chester Beatty became Ireland’s first honorary citizen.

When I was a boy growing up in Dublin during the 1960’s there were lots of Cowboy Westerns on the little black and white Bush TV in our home in Dublin. My father and I had a favourite Western which was the Magnificent Seven (1960) starring Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen about an oppressed Mexican peasant village which entreats seven gunfighters to help defend their homes from marauding bandits. The greatest form of flattery is indeed imitation and the movie was undoubtedly recast from the Seven Samurai, a 1954 Japanese Film which takes place in 1587 during the Warring States Period of Japan. It follows the story of a village of farmers that hire seven masterless samurai to combat bandits who plan to return after the harvest to steal their crops.

In recent months as a Director of Pasinex Resources I have become immersed again in the geology and mineralogy of high-grade non-sulphide zinc deposits in Turkey. These ores were once called calamine ores or referred to as galmei ores in Poland’s Upper Silesia where I also spent some time when I was CEO of Rathdowney Resources. These calamine ores were the chief source of zinc until froth flotation was commercialised as one of the great enabling technologies of the 20th century for the recovery and upgrading of sulphide ores.

Calamine is a historic name for an ore of zinc. The name calamine came from the Belgian town of Kelmis whose French name is “La Calamine” and which was home to an old zinc mine. However in the early 19th century it was discovered that what had been thought to be one ore was actually composed of two distinct minerals:

Smithsonite is good and hemimorphite is bad if you want to roast ores in a kiln and concentrate zinc by driving off carbon dioxide. A dominantly smitsonite ore will upgrade quite readily in a kiln but a dominantly hemimorphite ore requires much higher temperatures and the substantial additional cost of the brute force necessary to smash molecular bonds and prise the zinc from the silica. In mineralogy calamine is no longer considered a valid term. It has been replaced by its constituent parts: smithsonite and hemimorphite and also to distinguish it from the pinkish mixture of zinc oxide (ZnO) and iron oxide (Fe2O3) used in calamine lotion.

So all this is in the context of my re-reading the Life and Times of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty by A.J. Wilson published in 1985 by Cadogan Publications Limited. I was intrigued to learn that in October 1922 the Japanese withdrew from Vladivostok which was the capital of the Soviet-declared independent Far Eastern Republic. Soviet troops occupied Vladivostok and the province of Primorsky where there happened to be a lead-zinc mine called Tiu-Tie-Hé or Tetiuhe in the Sikhote-Alin Mountains about 300 kilometres north of the port.

In the latter part of the nineteenth century an adventurous and enterprising Swiss man called Julius Bryner emigrated from Europe to set up a trading and shipping business in Vladivostok which was then rapidly developing as a strategic naval base and important fishing centre. He prospered and along the way acquired the mining rights at Tetiuhe. There he mined high-grade calamine ore in the shallow weathered part of the mineralised system, hauling it some 30 kilometres by horse and cart over rough roads to the coast for shipment to Europe. Later underground workings were opened up with German finance and equipment to extract the deeper pristine lead-zinc sulphides under the calamine ores. A mill and concentrator was installed and a railway built to link the mine with the little harbour of Pristan on Tetiuhe Bay.

When Julius died his three sons carried on the business. The oldest son Leonide managed the firm in Vladivostok; Henry, the youngest son was the traveller; and Boris, who had been trained as an engineer in Germany, took over the mining business.

During the Great War mining was suspended at Tetiuhe. When the Red army arrived in 1922 the mine was derelict and protected by a terrified Chinese man. By 1924 the mine was so run down that the authorities had no issue with Boris taking repossession of the to restart operations provided on the proviso that mining restarted within one year. Toward the end of 1924 Boris arrived in London on a mission to raise finance for reopening the mine. Boris telephoned Chester Beatty and was delighted to be called to Selection Trust Offices at London Wall Buildings to discuss the project. Both men apparently got on like a house on fire and this led to a highly experienced three-man team consisting of a geologist, a mining engineer and a metallurgist being despatched to the far outermost reaches of eastern Russia. The project was considered a good proposition both technically and commercially and £750,000 in capital was raised through Chester Beatty’s international network of contacts . Subscribers were Cull & Co, the London merchant bankers, Hayden Stone of New York, Zinc Corporation the leading Austrailian lead-zinc producer of the time, an Armenian oil millionaire and South African mining magnate Solly Joel, nephew of Cecil Rhodes’s old rival Barney Barnato.

Boris married a Russian girl, which is something I have in common with Boris apart from calamine, and in 1920 they had a son, born on the island of Sakhalin off the Siberian coast. This boy developed a talent for acting and by the time he was thirteen he was entertaining audiences in Paris. Later he added another “n” to the spelling of his name and he became the internationally-famous film and stage star, Yul Brynner.

The present Chester Beatty library is on the grounds of Dublin Castle and opened on February 7, 2000, the 125th anniversary of Beatty’s birth and was named European Museum of the year in 2002.

The Library’s collections are displayed in two collections: “Sacred Traditions” and “Artistic Traditions”. Both displays exhibit manuscripts, miniature paintings, prints, drawings, rare books and some decorative arts from the Islamic, East Asian and Western Collections. The Library is one of the premier sources for scholarship in both the Old and New Testaments and is home to one of the most significant collections of  Islamic and Far Eastern artefacts. Certainly worth a visit if you are in town.


John P. Barry
Managing Director of Irus Consulting Ltd. and Professional Geologist

A widely travelled and highly experienced economic geologist, John Barry is a confidential counsellor to the likely investor contemplating a considerable investment in the intricate business of mining metals. Don’t take a “flyer” and trust altogether in luck and invest your money in an exploration or mining project on the strength of a printed prospectus or the advice of an interested friend without the preliminary investigation and site visit of a reliable geologist with a basic grasp of commerical reality.  Irus Consulting provides  strategic and practical management advice and guidance  to its clients.  Time is a precious commodity for my clients, and indeed myself, as it relentlessly ebbs away and so I  try as best I can to avoid the mediocre - those projects and their champions which do not engender enthusiastic belief and passion.

Irus Services Include:
- High-level strategic advice
- Practical guidance and assistance on project sourcing, acquisition and implementation
- Rapid identification of key project value-drivers and potential fatal flaws.
- Capacity building and coordination of  external consultants.
- Design and targeting of effective marketing campaigns

John Barry was part of very small teams which discovered and sourced several multi-million ounce gold deposits in Africa. He has worked as an economic geologist since 1988 and as a consultant and then responding to the entrepreneurial spirit he was a founder and manager of three public resource companies which raised a total of US$70million. These resource companies are currently successfully exploring and developing gold and base metal projects in Europe, and sub-Sahara Africa. John has seen a lot of rocks working for consultancies such as CSA in both Ireland and Australia and as Senior Associate Geologist with Chlumsky Armbrust & Meyer LLC which is based in Denver.  He is a specialist in zin-lead exploration and in 1992 joined the exploration team which discovered the Lisheen zinc-lead deposit in Ireland as the resource was being expanded in the first couple of years after discovery and in 2008 led the first non Polish exploration company to successfully enter and acquire a major resource-project in the Upper Silesian Mississippi-Valley-Type (MVT) zinc-lead district  in southern Poland – the world’s largest minerlised district of its kind. John (P.Geo and EurGeol) holds a Master’s Degree in Geology from Pennsylvania State University and a MBA from the Edinburgh School of Business, Heriot-Watt University, Scotland.

“I would like to think that I have shown the tenacity, patience and focus required to implement many of my better ideas over the years and that I have learned valuable lessons from some failures. I believe one of my strengths is in communicating quite complex technical ideas in a concrete way that can be easily understood. I am a team- builder and motivator by projecting my enthusiasm and vision for a project. I am committed to the development of young geologists through supportive delegation.” John is now moving more from managing public companies to freelance consultancy and a more advisory role so as to concentrate increasingly on assisting management in effective exploration and discovery. He is Managing Director of his own Exploration Management and Geological Consultancy: Irus Consulting Ltd. Please visit for more information and free newsletter registration. 

John is now moving more from managing public companies to freelance consultancy and a more advisory role so as to concentrate increasingly on assisting management in effective exploration and discovery. He is MD of his own Exploration Management and Geological Consultancy – Irus Consulting Ltd.

Click here to download John’s Statement of Qualifications as a PDF

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