How Is Topaz Mined?

topaz-mined Credit: Ralf Peter Reimann/CC-BY-SA 2.0

Topaz is typically mined through a process called "surface mining." There are five different types of surface mining: strip mining, open pit mining, dredging, highwall mining and mountaintop removal mining. Topaz can be collected through underground mines as well.

In most forms of surface mining, heavy equipment and large machines are used to extract the mineral. When a seam of the topaz is mined, the process used is strip mining. It involves removing a strip of overlying rock and soil first. Open pit mining, as the name implies, involves extracting minerals from the earth through an open pit.

Dredging is used to collect underwater minerals by clearing or enlarging the waterways of boats. Highwall mining involves penetrating a cold seam through the continuous use of a miner that is propelled by a hydraulic push beam mechanism.

Explosives are used to blow the tops off mountains in a process called mountaintop removal mining. This type of mining is used primarily in the Appalachian coal fields of West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee.

Topaz is mined in Australia, Namibia, Nigeria, Russia, Pakistan and Brazil in addition to the United States. Once the mineral is mined, it is polished with tin laps and tin lead laps that are charged with diamond or aluminum oxide.