Historical information

Malachite is a copper carbonate hydroxide mineral. It has a chemical composition of Cu2(CO3)(OH)2. It often forms within limestone where a subsurface chemical environment favourable for the formation of carbonate minerals can occur. It is a substance that can be found in many different parts of the world including: Australia, USA, Russia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Malachite has historically been used to produce copper, with mining of the mineral dating back over a period of four thousand years. Due to its beautiful green colourations, it is also commonly used for aesthetic purposes such as in the production of sculptures and jewellery.

This particular specimen was collected from the town of Burra, South Australia as part of a geological survey undertaken during the nineteenth century. The locality (located on Ngadjuri Country) has a long history of mining, particularly in copper mining, as the area is rich in copper deposits. The first significant discovery of this was made in Burra (Burra Burra Mine) in 1845 and, at the time, the mine was the largest and richest of its kind in the world, producing nearly five percent of the total world copper output.


This specimen is significant as it is considered to be a rare gemstone, as many of the original deposits for the stones are significantly depleted, leaving behind very few sources.

This specimen is part of a larger collection of geological and mineral specimens collected from around Australia (and some parts of the world) and donated to the Burke Museum between 1868-1880. A large percentage of these specimens were collected in Victoria as part of the Geological Survey of Victoria that begun in 1852 (in response to the Gold Rush) to study and map the geology of Victoria. Collecting geological specimens was an important part of mapping and understanding the scientific makeup of the earth. Many of these specimens were sent to research and collecting organisations across Australia, including the Burke Museum, to educate and encourage further study.

Physical description

A solid palm-sized copper carbonate hydroxide mineral with patterns of green colourations

Inscriptions & markings

Existing Label:
Locality: Burra /
S. Aust.

Other Label:
Confirmed /
as Malachite /
C. Willman /
15/4/1 /
+ Bill Birch