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Mining for Pyrite Aka Fool's Gold and Multiple Uses for It

Education does not end when leaving school. It is an ongoing process that certainly makes life more enjoyable. I hope you enjoy this!

FeS2 also called Pyrite or Fool's Gold

FeS2 also called Pyrite or Fool's Gold

Pioneers and Panning For Gold

When pioneers were heading west in wagon trains in what would later become the United States of America, men on horseback or even afoot scouted the land as they proceeded. They required some shelter plus a water source when determining whether to settle on a particular piece of land or continue moving on to better locations.

Even when planning to go further, water was always a precious and necessary commodity to locate in order to live. When finding water, it provided life-giving hydration for people and their animals. It was a source in which to bathe, wash clothing and other items.

Panning for gold was sometimes done in the creeks and waterways along the trail. Some bits of gold may have been washed downstream from its source due to the weathering forces of erosion.

Sometimes with a good amount of luck, gold mines were located. They would carefully guard their locations of the mines. Caches of gold could be exchanged for needed staples to make a settler's life easier.

Many people panning for gold might have been wrong in thinking that they had gathered a small fortune, only to be disappointed when finding out that it was pyrite. They would soon learn that real gold is duller in appearance and is not as shiny and glittery.

"All that Glitters is Not Gold."

There are many references to this saying which means that all is not necessarily what it seems.

From a portion of The Merchant of Venice in a Shakespeare play to a poem by J. R. R. Tolkien, or even hearing a country-western song about that topic, you have probably heard this saying multiple times.

“All that glisters is not gold;

Often have you heard that told:

Many a man his life hath sold

But my outside to behold:

Gilded tombs do worms enfold.”

— William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Shakespeare's Comedy of the Merchant of Venice

Shakespeare's Comedy of the Merchant of Venice

“All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,

A light from the shadows shall spring;

Renewed shall be blade that was broken,

The crownless again shall be king.”

— J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Industrial Uses of Pyrite

Iron pyrite or pyrite, also called fools gold, has a chemical formula of FeS2. It is an iron sulfide and is in many different types of rocks and even coal. Sometimes over time, it has even replaced the minerals in bones or shells of fossils.

Pyrite has many commercial uses. Listed below are a few examples.

In reading about pyrite, I learned that the paper industry relies upon sulfur dioxide ( a product coming from pyrite) for part of the manufacturing process in papermaking.

People who use non-rechargeable batteries are benefiting from the use of this mineral.

Less expensive solar panels of the future may come from the use of pyrite.

Those who wear marcasite jewelry are wearing pyrite. There are many more uses which is why people seek it in mining.

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A marcasite silver brooch in the shape of a lizard.

A marcasite silver brooch in the shape of a lizard.

Kazakhstan Mining

I acquired a small box of minerals from a neighbor lady who was moving. A small card identified the pretty piece shown in the photo at the top of this page as pyrite. Its origin was the Sarbaiskiy mine near Rudniy in Kazakhstan.

Rudniy (also spelled Rudny) is a town that came into being when the discovery of lots of iron ore happened back in the 1950s. Primarily iron is extracted at the open pit of the nearby Sarbaiskiy Mine.

Kazakhstan is a massive country! It is the ninth-largest one in the entire world. Within Kazakhstan, there are many mineral resources. Much geological exploration has been going on there for many years, attracting much in foreign investments.

People living in Kazakhstan come from a nomadic past. The people living in that country today are some of the most literate in the entire world. They declared independence from the Soviet Union on December 16, 1991.

If you wish to learn much more about this vast and beautiful country from which my piece of pyrite originated, be sure to watch the video below.

Open pit mining in Russia

Open pit mining in Russia

Location of the mine from which my piece of pyrite was unearthed.

Fake people are like fools gold, it can be found everywhere yet it's worth nothing. Real people are like gold, they're very rare and worth a fortune.

— Unknown

Watching this next video will enable viewers to see many different types of pyrite from a collector who loves to show off the various ways in which it is formed.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 23, 2021:

Hi Devika,

Yes, pyrite or fool's gold has many useful purposes. I am pleased that you enjoyed learning more about it. Thanks for your comment.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 23, 2021:

Hi Peggy This is interesting about fools gold. At least one can use fools gold for other purposes. I knew about Fools gold but not as much as you have informed me.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 22, 2021:

Hi Jack,

Yes, I think that many people associate the word pyrite with fool's gold. It does have some fascinating uses. I also enjoyed learning about Kazakhstan. Thanks for your comment.

Jack on April 22, 2021:

Never knew or even thought about iron pyrite only that is is also known as "fool's gold". Very informative article including the introduction to Kazakhstan.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 04, 2019:

Hi Dale,

Well, now you know! Haha! Yes, there are many uses for pyrite aka Fool's Gold.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on May 03, 2019:

It never even occurred to me that there would be uses for Fool's Gold!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 06, 2018:

Hello Nyesha,

I am pleased that you found this article about pyrite to be interesting. It was fun for me when I did some research on it.

Nyesha Pagnou MPH from USA on October 05, 2018:

Thanks for sharing this interesting hub about fool's gold. I enjoyed reading it.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 26, 2018:

Hi Adrienne,

That would have been fun discovering it even if it was only fool's gold. Nice to be able to add to your rock and mineral collection that way.

Adrienne Farricelli on August 25, 2018:

I found some fool's gold once walking my dogs nearby a river in Missouri. We sort of knew it wasn't real because it wasn't as heavy as gold would be, but it was still nice looking, so we kept it and I still have it stored with my small rock and mineral collection. Thank you for this information.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 15, 2018:

Hi Patricia,

Gold seekers would indeed be disappointed to find out that what they had was pyrite or "fools gold." Glad you liked the videos. I found this information interesting.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on July 15, 2018:

How disappointed those weary travelers must have been to find their 'gold' was not gold after all. It is interesting to read the uses for pyrite today. Who would have 'thunk' it? Interesting too were the videos which gave us even more to ponder and consider. As usual I am always glad I have come to read or reread your articles Peggy. Once again many Angels are headed your way ps

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 10, 2018:

Hi Eileen,

Yes we can dream. Ha Ha! I am glad that you found this interesting.

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on June 10, 2018:

Thanks Peggy fascinating. We had some fools gold at one time. We can but dream of real thing

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 03, 2018:

Hi Kelley,

Interesting that there is a lot of the iron pyrite in the Sacramento area. Good luck if you pan for gold as well as pyrite. May you find much more of the gold!

Kelley Marks from Sacramento, California on April 03, 2018:

Yes, all that glitters is not gold. Thanks for telling me much more about iron pyrite, a lot of which can be found here in the Sacramento area. Gold is here too, and one of these days I may pan for some of it and hope to find a little of both. Later!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 21, 2018:

Greetings Adrienne Janet Farricelli,

So happy to be able to enlighten you as to what you found after a heavy rain in Missouri. Pyrite certainly is pretty!

Adrienne Farricelli on February 20, 2018:

So that's what it was!! Many years ago, I found this gold-looking rock after it rained heavily in Missouri. It looked exactly like the picture. Thank you for helping me figure out what its actual name is.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 19, 2017:

Hi Nithya,

I am glad that you found this article about pyrite to be informative. Thanks for your comment.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on December 19, 2017:

An interesting and informative article about fools gold thank you for sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 30, 2017:

Hi Sherry,

So glad to know that you enjoyed reading this article. Now you know the origin of marcasite among other things. I enjoyed learning about the country of Kazakhstan since we have a friend who was born there.

Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on November 29, 2017:

What interesting article. I never knew marcasite was made from iron pyrite.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 07, 2017:

Hi Nell,

Glad to know you enjoyed reading this a 2nd time. There is much to learn regarding the element but also geography where this pyrite originated. Thanks for your comment.

Nell Rose from England on November 07, 2017:

Forgot that I had read this as it was totally interesting again! lol! I know that a lot of alchemists used it to cheat people into thinking they had made gold out of various elements, read that recently!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 01, 2017:

Hi Mary,

Enjoy the jewelry given to you by your aunt no matter how she described it. Black gold sounds like a good description.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 30, 2017:

Thanks for this info. I was given by an aunt a piece of jewelry and she called in black gold but I think it is pyrite as you have described it.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 04, 2017:

Hi Bill,

As to your being a are successfully doing that with words. Your writing is superb! You should stick to that! :)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 04, 2017:

It's just as well I'm not a miner. I'd fall for the fool's gold every time. :) Great information...thank you for the education.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 26, 2017:

Hi Jackie,

I hope your dream of panning for gold comes true someday and that you get a huge gold nugget. That would be nice!

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on July 26, 2017:

Pan for gold is on my bucket list! I hope I one day will. Maybe that pure gold nugget is waiting on me.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 20, 2017:

I agree with what you wrote. Diversification is key!

Robert Sacchi on July 19, 2017:

Yes, in some countries money can become little more than paper. Even in those countries people can buy more stable currencies. Diversification is a good idea. Metals shouldn't be thought of as a financial cure all.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 19, 2017:

Hi Robert,

I know that there is fluctuation in the price of metals as well as paper money. In some countries with wild runaway inflation investing in metals might be a better option rather than their paper currency. Obviously there is risk just like everything else. Diversifying investments at least spreads the risk if one type of investment outpaces another or takes a downturn. From your comments I know that you are well aware of this.

Robert Sacchi on July 18, 2017:

The truth is metals gain and lose value just like anything else. One thing to consider with metals is they are sold above spot price and and are usually bought back below spot price. If it's 3% each way, good numbers, it has to gain 6% just to break even.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 18, 2017:

Hi Robert,

I guess some people still prefer investing in metals rather than paper money. At least most of the time it holds its value.

Robert Sacchi on July 17, 2017:

In the early 80s buying metals seemed to make sense. Buying them was easy enough there are many places that sell metals.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 17, 2017:

Hi Robert,

It would be interesting to know how and why you acquired those ingots. Is there a story behind it? If so you might wish to make it into an article for this site.

Robert Sacchi on July 13, 2017:

That's fine, I just didn't want to claim credit for something that isn't mine. I had a platinum ingot a long time ago as well as a couple of palladium ingots.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 13, 2017:

Hi Robert,

You certainly seem to be interested in not only gold but platinum. You wrote this in another comment: " The name is derived from the Spanish 'platina', meaning little silver. " Not sure we are supposed to put links in the comments so I deleted that one of yours. If I am wrong at least your quote is in this one. Hope you understand. Thanks!

Robert Sacchi on July 12, 2017:

Yes, I think it was from the time of the Conquistadors the natives had gold and this other metal they didn't know anything about, platinum, so they considered it worthless.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 11, 2017:

Hi again Robert,

So platinum was considered worthless at one time? Interesting!

Robert Sacchi on July 11, 2017:

Interesting, I remember reading platinum got it's name because it was considered worthless.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 10, 2017:

Hi Robert,

I just gave a small sampling of the uses for pyrite. Yes it is definitely of value in many ways.

Robert Sacchi on July 10, 2017:

Thank you. I never knew of the uses for "fools gold". I guess a saying could be made just because it's not gold that doesn't mean it's worthless.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 09, 2017:

Hi Nell,

What I found particularly interesting was the information regarding Kazakhstan. So glad you liked this!

Nell Rose from England on July 08, 2017:

Hi Peggy, that was fascinating! I learned a lot. and yes I do remember that old saying, all that glitters is not gold, great hub!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 02, 2017:

Hi Thelma,

Glad you enjoyed learning something about Pyrite by reading this post. I appreciate your comment.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on July 01, 2017:

I have not heard of Pyrite though I have heard the saying of "not all that glitters are gold.". I use this saying sometimes, too. Thanks for sharing this information. Yes, I have learned a lot from reading your hub.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 30, 2017:

Hi Chitrangada Sharan,

I agree that most often experts are needed to tell one type of mineral from another. The same goes for gemstones. Glad you liked this article.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on June 30, 2017:

Very interesting information! I had not heard about Pyrite though I understand that all that glitters is not gold. And you need experts to identify them.

Loved your pictures and the video. Thanks for sharing this well researched and well written article!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 27, 2017:

Hi Audrey,

I watched 5 or 6 videos regarding Kazakhstan before I selected this one to show. I'm so glad you took the time to watch it. It is amazing all the things that I learned about that country...and yes, it is huge! It is also so beautiful!

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on June 26, 2017:

A very interesting hub on gold. I enjoyed this. I had no idea that Kazakhstan is the 9th largest country in the world. The videos are just wonderful. Thanks Peggy!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 24, 2017:

Hi manatita44,

I just finished reading another Louis L'Amour book this afternoon. They are all good from what I have read thus far and it certainly gives one an idea of what the settlement of the west in America was like back in those days.

I have heard of Tanzanite but do not know particulars about it. Will have to look that up.

Will head on over now to read your poem.

manatita44 from london on June 24, 2017:

Interesting bit of crystal (mineral) including the cubes and spheres. Tanzania has something called Tanzanite, very important to them.

I use to read Louis L Amour's books. Must have passed, right? Seems a long, long time ago. I believe they made some movies from his books and showed the aspects of greed driving men during the gold rush. Short but informative.

Note: I wrote a poem for you. You have not been over, I don't think. Peace and higher blessings this weekend.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 23, 2017:

Hi Shyron,

Like you, I think that most of us have heard of Fools Gold. The gift from my neighbor who gave me a box of identified minerals sparked this article. It is always fun learning new things and I am pleased that you liked it.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on June 23, 2017:

Peggy, I had not heard of Pyrite, but heard of Fools Gold many times.

This is a very interesting read.

Thank you for all the information.

Blessings always

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 22, 2017:

Hi Martie,

I will admit that "Fool's Gold" is easier to remember than pyrite. Happy to hear that reading this instigated your search for more information about the subject. This world of ours holds many wonders! Thanks for your informative comment.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on June 22, 2017:

Peggy, I hang my head in shame - I've never heard of pyrite. Searching for more information - specifically about the mining of pyrite in my country - I stumbled upon the fact that it is actually one of eleven most dangerous minerals. "Oxidation of pyrite releases toxic metals and metalloids such as Arsenic, which is poisonous for humans. Arsenic-containing pyrite in coals still poses a severe health problem for millions of people in the Guizhou province in China."

I've also learned that the flotation of pyrite is of great importance to the gold mining industry in South Africa and Australia.

Thanks to you, I have learned something new. I think, however, I will forget the name 'Pyrite', but definitely not the name 'Fool's Gold'. To think anybody could have fooled me!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 21, 2017:

Hi Linda,

Happy to hear you liked learning these facts. As to the lizard brooch made using marcosite, it is a beauty for sure.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 21, 2017:

Hi Bill,

So happy to hear that you enjoyed learning more tidbits of information. As an author I am sure that you truly appreciate this. Thanks for your comment.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 21, 2017:

You've shared some very interesting facts, Peggy. I love the lizard brooch!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 21, 2017:

I like learning stuff like this; never grow tired of filling my brain with little tidbits. :) So thank you for the education.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 21, 2017:

Hi Patricia,

I am so happy to know that you enjoyed learning a bit about pyrite and some of how it is used.

If you get a chance take the time to watch that video about Kazakhstan. It is an amazingly beautiful country with rich traditions. They are very forward thinking with regard to helping the rest of the world. We have a good friend here in Houston who was born in that country so it was of particular interest to me.

Thinking of you and your dear family. Will be contacting you soon.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on June 21, 2017:

You have so many interesting hubs, Peggy, I usually read them more than once. This is so interesting...and yes, I really did learn a lot reading this much I did not know.

Thank you for filling in the gaps in my knowledge.

Angels are on the way this morning, once again ps

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 20, 2017:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

I agree with you that the piece of pyrite left to me is beautiful. My former neighbor also left some other mineral pieces as well. Learning about uses for pyrite I also found very interesting. Thanks for the first comment on this piece.

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 20, 2017:

Peggy, this was very interesting. Although I knew about its use in paper manufacturing the rest was new to me. Your neighbor left you a real beauty of a collector's piece.

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