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Keep our national treasure in city

Monday, 11th April, 2011

Wincen Cuy Wincen Cuy

By Mayor Wincen Cuy

City Council is working with the community to secure one of the nation's most extensive mineral collections and it is right here in our own city.

The Milton Lavers Collection is recognised internationally as one of the world's most extensive collections of minerals, in particular for its representation of the minerals from the Line of Lode.

The Mineralogical Society of Queensland describes the collection as "Mineralia stupenda!" and online tourism blogs are full of comments that this is one of the best mineral collections in the world.

From a very young age Milton and his friends would carefully avoid the watchman and sneak on to the mining leases of Block 10 and Block 14 where they would collect "rocks" that were used for ammunition in their slingshots.

The "rocks" were minerals such as Azurite and Smithsonite. Milton now tells everyone; "I wish I knew then what I know now - my collection would be even better."

As he grew older he started to appreciate the minerals for their beauty and began collecting them for the purpose of assembling a collection, and so began a life-long passion.

Milton has spent an untold amount of hours collecting and cataloguing the minerals which number about 3500 specimens.

He tells how he would persuade the guys on the other shift to "blow things up" so he could be the first on the scene at the start of the next shift to gather up the specimens that were left behind.

"What would we do without our mates underground?" Milton said.

Fellow mineralogist Ross Clarke has been pushing for years to ensure that the collection remains in Broken Hill and has confirmed that there would be very few museums in the world that possess a more comprehensive collection of Broken Hill specimens.

As a community we need to start talking seriously about how we keep this Broken Hill treasure. Collections like this won't be made again. Today's mining methods are different, making it more difficult to salvage the collectable specimens.

Council supports the acquisition of the collection but believes that it must be acquired through a combination of grants, in concert with private and trust funding so that it can remain in the city permanently.

It is already regarded as a "must-see" in tourism publications such as Australian Traveller and I believe that a community effort to retain this collection is crucial to the future development of heritage tourism in the city.

We won't have a chance to acquire a collection of this quality again.

Let's work together to make it happen.

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