What You Should Know About the Company Mining in Yogo Again

SourcingJan 03, 2023

What You Should Know About the Company Mining in Yogo Again

Yogo Mine in Montana, which produces the popular Yogo sapphires, was dormant for nearly four decades.

Yogold USA is producing in the previously dormant Yogo Mine in Montana. Here is a shot of some of the company’s Yogo sapphire production, mostly rough and one faceted gem.
Yogo Gulch, Montana—The Yogo Mine in Montana is producing again, thanks to Yogold USA.

The mine, which produces the popular Yogo sapphires, was dormant for nearly four decades.

A few years ago, Yogold USA entered the arena. The mining company first entered into an exploration agreement, which ended December 31, 2022, and then it transitioned into a lease with an option to purchase.

Its lease and option consist of 1,563 acres of deeded ground, where the company is simultaneously engaged in commercial production and underground development as well as surface exploration, President Jerod Edington confirmed to National Jeweler. 

There are two historic workings in the mine. 

A British group conducted surface mining on top and eventually sunk a shaft to 250 feet underground. 

A group of Americans, meanwhile, went straight into the side of the mountain and back about 700 feet, essentially hand mining the whole way.

The Kunisaki Group then purchased the mine in the 1970s and drove a haulage way parallel to the American mine; the haulage way is approximately 3,000 feet long and is referred to as the “Kunisaki Tunnel,” Edington said.

The first two seasons Yogold operated the Yogo Mine—in 2020 and 2021—the company was doing only surface mining with the intent of eventually moving underground.

This season, Yogold opened the Kunisaki Tunnel and portions of the American mine, which run parallel to each other. The company is about 700 feet back in the Kunisaki Tunnel now.

The team is using low profile underground excavators and hauling underground trucks, so right now they are producing about 75-100 tons of underground ore per day and will increase production as demand for its Yogo sapphires dictates.

This year, they installed buildings at the site so they can mine and process all winter.

A sample of rough sapphires from the Yogo Mine

Yogold splits cutting up by size—the company has financed its own cutting facility in Colombo, Sri Lanka for the smaller stones (generally under 0.5 carats), and there are three master cutters in the U.S. that focus on the larger stones. 

The company is also working with some lapidaries on fantasy cutting—GIA defines this as concave cuts made on the back of gemstones—for some of the thinner stones that wouldn’t necessarily make sense to facet traditionally and could see a higher yield with an alternate cut.

One thing Yogold would like to be more involved in next year is jewelry production, Edington said. They have custom-made a few pieces to test ideas and develop samples. 

For right now, though, its focus is on the wholesale side. 

And so far, Yogold has been able to sell everything it produced. 

“The demand is substantial,” Edington said. “We can’t even come close to filling all the orders that we have right now. That’s a great position to be in.”

 Related stories will be right here … 
Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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