Monday, May 8, 2017

Jade Mining

Most jade on the market is composed of nephrite; jadeite is very rare and in its emerald-green, translucent form is called Imperial Jade.
Jade is the gem name for mineral aggregates composed of either or both of two minerals, Jadeite and Nephrite. Jadeite is a sodium-rich aluminous pyroxene; nephrite is a fine-grained, calcium-rich, magnesium, iron, aluminous amphibole.

All jade is composed of fine-grained, highly intergrown, interlocking crystals of one or both of these minerals. Though neither mineral is very hard (6-7), jade is one of the toughest gem minerals known.

BC Polar Nephrite Jade Bear and Salmon fish on Nephrite Jade Rough

Jade mountains in northwestern B.C. east of Juneau, Alaska
The world jade market is estimated at 300 tonnes per year, with three quarters of this originating from British Columbia.

The price of raw jade varies from less than $10 to $100 per kilogram depending on quality and quantity. The best B.C. nephrite is bought by local artists and transformed into artwork which is in demand internationally.

Cutting jade boulders at Jade West’s Ogden Mountain mine
The 2008 Beijing Olympics reignited China’s interest in nephrite. Dubbed the “Stone of Heaven”, China used it in Olympic medals and ran a campaign to remind its residents that nephrite is the country’s traditional jade.

The subsequent surge in demand resulted in skyrocketing jade prices. Some export-oriented, jewelry-grade jade can sell for $200 a kilogram – a 10-fold increase from a decade ago.

Chinese Nephrite Jade Carving

Dragon Nephrite Jade
BC Polar Nephrite Jade Elephant figurine

Chinese nephrite jade carved pendant

Small-scale miners search for stone as dump trucks dump tailings.
Police in Myanmar said they have abandoned efforts to find the bodies of jade miners who were buried when a mine dump collapsed. The 60m (200ft) high mountain of debris enveloped 70 makeshift huts at its foot, burying miners as they slept.

Itinerant jade pickers and their families scratch a living scavenging for scraps of jade in the towering heaps of debris left behind by mining companies.