Mining for Jade
Jade West is one of world's largest producer and exporter of nephrite Jade, operating four mines located in Northern British Columbia, 100 miles east of the Alaskan Border. During a short summer mining season, when the area is free from snow, Jade West annually mines 120 tonnes of jade for export to China. Jade West is also the the supplier of POLAR JADE, described by FRED WARD in the Lapidary Journal, November 1998, as, "the newest, brightest, most translucent, greenest, hardest nephrite yet discovered." .
(Picture of Andrew Matheson in front of our famous Polar Pride Boulder, an 18-ton gem quality boulder, now carved into the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace, photo taken by Kirk Makepeace)
In order to bring you the finest Nephrite Jade available, we mine the Jade ourselves. The process involved in bringing the Jade out to you is quite rigorous and demanding. Yearly, we extract approximately 120 tonnes of Jade, incredibly this Jade has to be found and processed at the Mine Site within a very short mining season.
In order to understand the incredible effort involved, you need to be aware of two things; the Location of the Mine, and the Process of Jade Mining.
- We are currently operating four Jade Mines the famous Polar Jade Mine, Kutcho Mine, the newest mine King Mountain and our Ogden Jade Mine. Our Jade Mines are located in the rugged Mountains of Northern British Columbia, 110 Miles east of Juneau Alaska, with the exception of the Ogden Mine which is located outside Fort St James. Due to the rugged terrain, and the extreme winter weather conditions at the Mine Sites, we are only able to operate for a short 60 day Mining Season. Transporting Equipment into the Jade Mine:
Jade Mining Process
- There are 4 distinct steps to our Mining Operation; Exploration, Breaking Out, Cutting, and Shipping.
- This process involves drilling into the mountain side with Water cooled diamond tipped core drills. The cores are than extracted and examined to determine if the Jade will meet the gem grade requirements suitable for our finished products and gem stones. Since the Mining season is so short, and the Jade so difficult to remove from the mountainside, our miners have to be very selective about which Jade Deposits they will focus their energy on. Drilling Out Core Samples:
- After the Jade Cores have been examined, and quality has been determined, the miners will analyze the face looking for cleavage points. These natural joints can be exploited to remove the Jade. More core holes will be drilled, and heavy hydraulic spreaders will be inserted into these cracks to push the Jade apart.. Breaking out is an incredibly difficult process in Jade Mining, because of the composition of Nephrite Jade. Nephrite Jade is the toughest rock on the planet, instead of having a crystalline structure like granite, it is composed of tightly interlocked fibers. These tightly meshed fibers make splitting efforts far more difficult than any other gemstone.
After the heavy hydraulic splitters have forced the Jade apart, Heavy Machinery is used to pull the Jade out.
- After the jade boulders have been broken out, they are then taken to huge diamond saws to be reduced to managable sizes.The sawyer will also cut windows into the boulder to better expose the beautiful Jade within. Triming Jade Boulders:
- After the boulders are selected and cut, they are then loaded into huge trucks, to be transported to the village of Dease Lake, the nearest settlement a full day drive away. Once in Dease Lake the Jade is unloaded to wait for the end of the season, when all of the Jade is then trucked down to our Vancouver Warehouse. Transporting Jade Boulders out of the Mine: