The state of Montana is the most prolific producer of gem-quality sapphires in North America. Three major mining areas (Missouri River, Dry Cottonwood Creek and Rock Creek) supply the stones seen in the international marketplace today.
Gold miners first discovered sapphires in Montana in May of 1865 near the Missouri River, along with additional finds in 1889 and 1892 in other areas. The most notable deposits are Rock Creek and the Eldorado Bar. The New World Gold leases are part of the Eldorado Bar deposits. In 1895, samples were sent via an assayer to Dr. George F. Kunz at Tiffany & Co who purchased the very fine sapphires. This was the beginning of an ongoing relationship between Tiffany’s and the sapphires of Montana, which continues today. The Montana Sapphire has become world famous because of some of the blue sapphires it produces which may resemble the coveted Kashmir India Blue velvety sapphire. These sapphires from India and Burma have sold for $100,000/ carat and of course lesser quality sapphires have been $50/ carat, all contingent on quality.
The Montana sapphire can deliver a unique and highly profitable product for the gemstone business of today. This is evident by its acceptance worldwide of not only rough material but also fine faceted gemstones despite its limited inventory. Taking into consideration the market situations and future trends, the time is perfect for Montana to take its place as a major player in the world sapphire market.
Reduced and loss of mining production of sapphires from Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam resulting in shortages to all major suppliers and cutters to the world market offers great opportunity to grow current and open new distribution channels of sapphires from Montana.
In addition to the aforementioned, demand for sapphire substrates is currently booming for mobile phones, solar cells, and LED applications for phones, PCs and automobile lighting.
Montana Mining Operation
The Montana property has been mapped and tested over the last three years for gold and sapphires.
Both have been found in significant quantities to justify very good commercial operations. The property has four significant pay zones—two gold and two sapphire.
Random sampling was done to define the pay zones. Based on the results of the random sampling, a pit was dug to define the pay zones. The results obtained from the pit were sufficient enough to justify a plant being built and a settling pond put in place. Regulatory approvals were applied for and received.
Photo: Raw sapphires - less than 6 carats,finished sapphires and vials of gold.