Important Agate Mines In The World
by RITIKA CHANGRANI
Agate is a hard semi-precious mineral commonly used as an ornament and a gemstone and this is found almost all over the world including places like USA, India, Asia, Brazil, Africa, Germany, Italy, Mexico and Nepal.
Nature has given the Agate gemstone the most creative of stripes and colors. It is the chalcedony quartz in concentric layers that give it its variety and a range of colors.
Agates get formed when a cavity or a niche in the host rock is filled. Due to this, it is found as a round nodule with rings or concentric bands. These bands sometimes look like scallops or eyes or even form a picture of trees in a landscape. Blue and green are rare colors in agate but for most part, you will find it in a variety of colors.
Sometimes there are tiny quartz crystals that form inside the stone which greatly enhances the magnificence and distinctiveness of individual stones. Known as drusy, these tiny crystals are used by Lapidaries where just the drusy is cut from an agate. The jewelers then use these drusy cabochons as the accent or main stone in their design. Some varieties of agate of this type are moss agate, plume agate and eye agate.
Mining Of Agate
Agate mines are found almost everywhere in the world. But some of the more important mines are found in USA, Russia, Europe and Canada. Let’s start with the mines of South Dakota USA. Agate is part of the gemstone and mineral industry which has grown from strength to strength in recent times. Agate is one of the most well known of all stones in this area. The official stone of South Dakota is the really beautiful Fairbanks agate found in the Black Hills. This stone is characterized by sharp bands that run perfectly parallel to each other. The next place in the USA for agate is Arizona. Here too gemstone production is well developed and while it is peridot and turquoise that lead the way, agate, jasper and some others are of equal importance. Agate deposits are found scattered across Idaho also.
In Mexico, agates are found primarily in the states of San Luis Potosi and Aguascalientes. They are known for their fire agate and the multicolored fire agates are found in Calville in Aguascalientes. Another very beautiful agate is called the Apache Agate which is characterized by its floating red colors that can be seen in the clear agate. Southeast of the area of Apache agate are the cousins called the Laguna and Coyamito are part of the banded agate groups but the Apache Agate still stands apart from them. Here the bands are not as sharp as other agates found in Mexico.
The two main deposits of agate can be found on the Mexican ranch of Agua Nueva which is located about 20 miles northeast of the Laguna agate deposits in Chihuahua in Northern Mexico. It is situated in front of the far mountain around the corner to the left and through the ravine. One specializes in the vein agate and the other is a nodular agate. The vein agate which is known for its tube formation was mined in 1997 and 1998.
In a remote corner of Chihuahua Mexico one finds the Apache Agate deposits nestled on a ranch about 35 miles southeast of Nuevo Casas Grandes. Winding dirt roads going north through the tiny towns of Malpais and EL Apache, the agate deposits can be seen on a narrow ridge between an arroyo that drains the mountains to the wets and a bigger drain that comes in form the northwest. Till the early 1070s the ridge point was mined by hand and then came the dozer in 1970.
Central European Russia boasts of mines which are along the left bank of the Oka River near Stupino, about 100 km south of Moscow. These are the Prioksky quarry or Golutvin. Here agates in limestone and agates are found.
Germany mined agate in the Nahe River valley which was documented as early as 1497. This brought about the rise of the cutting centre called Idar-Oberstein. Brazil has rich deposits of agate and this was discovered when in the 19th century, the Idar-Oberstein’s cutters exhausted the agate deposits at Nahe and they went on to mine the deposits in Brazil. It lead to a major explore and discover program which brought to light rich deposits of agate, tourmaline, amethyst, citrine, topaz and other gemstones.
In Canada, the Thunder Bay is one of the three places where Agate is found in veins and it is the only agate mine in Canada. But in California, not far form the Palo Verde, tucked away, deep in the Mule Mountains lies the Opal Hill Mine. This mine is famous for its very rare and magnificent fire agate, quartz crystals and opal eggs.
The mine is made up of rock outcrops and holes where the agate has been mined which is quite unlike the mental picture one has of a mine being deep with tunnels and shafts. This mine is privately owned but for a small fee, the public can have a look around. Some effort and some hard work ensured that you come away satisfied with the fiery agate you get to take back with you. Opal hill mine is one of the active mines in the world which is producing the fire agate.