I would like to go into mineral excavation as a hobby. What deters me is the fact there are quite a few deadly minerals/ores out there. My question is how likely is it there are those deadly ores in landlocked countries on Balkan peninsula? I know there are some cinnabar findings near me but other deadly minerals are usually found near volcanic vents and other geological formations not characteristic to Balkan peninsula. In statistical terms, how likely is it I will come across those nasty things here?


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I assume by "mineral excavation" you mean mineral collecting.

I've collected minerals for years. In general the biggest danger is naivete not the minerals themselves. You need proper safety equipment, proper tools, and proper planning.

If you're breaking rocking with a hammer, then the hammer should be a soft steel. Hardened steel can splinter. Since the rocks will fragment long sleeve shirts, long pants, and most importantly safety glasses should be used. Boots and gloves would probably be appropriate too.

Don't rock collect alone. Tell someone where you're going and when you plan to come back just in case. Don't go into mines, or collect from under ledges. If you're going somewhere remote plan to take extra food and water - just in case.

Cinnabar and other mercury minerals need some care. Any liquid mercury which is spilt gets into cracks and crevices and is essentially impossible to remove. This is dangerous because the metallic mercury literally evaporates into the air and contaminates the air.

Another set of minerals that would make me somewhat nervous are radioactive minerals. In general even such specimens can be handled safely with a few precautions since the raw samples have low radioactivity. You just are not going to find big crystals of uranium-235 metal while mineral collecting.

If you can afford a small upfront expense micromount collecting is a neat way to go. A large collection of minerals will take up a small space. Micromounters swap and give away specimens much more generously than collectors who want cabinet size specimens. Active mines are virtually impossible to get into. However lots of old mines have tailing piles where good micromount specimens can be found. Lastly I'll also point out that there are several thousand minerals. Only a couple of hundred have good cabinet size specimens.

  • $\begingroup$ Wash your hands thoroughly, be wary of cuts that could take in small particles: other heavy metals are nasty too (although mercury is the one that is easiest to absorb). My understanding with the radioactive minerals (e.g. uranite) is that radon gas is the big issue.So keep in a well ventilated room or a sealed gas-tight container (and ONLY open that container outdoors). $\endgroup$
    – winwaed
    Sep 15, 2016 at 13:00

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