The Mine

The Mining Process

Mine workers emerging from the mine.

The two and a half meter red cobra is spitting mad! While hunting in the sultry African night he has fallen into a deep open-cast mine and cannot find a way out.

The African sun has just risen in a great flaming orb over the thorn-tree savannah when several miners jump down into the pit ready to start the day’s treasure hunt.

The snake, feeling the vibrations, raises its head almost a meter off the ground, spreads his hood and angrily slithers towards the nearest man. “Nyoka!”, shouts the horrified miner and turns to run just as a spray of wet venom strikes him on the side of the neck, where his eyes had been a split second earlier. There is a frantic scramble as men pile out of the pit.

This is all part of a days work in mining what is possibly the world’s most exciting green gemstone. Technically it is a green grossularite, a species of the garnet group of minerals. Chemically, this gemstone is a calcium aluminium silicate which receives its rich green colour from vanadium and chromium. This rare green variety of grossularite is called Tsavorite, deriving its name from the Tsavo National Park in Kenya. Tsavo is also famous for its great elephant herds and the legendary man-eating lions that terrorized the railway workers during the building of “The Lunatic Line,” from Mombasa to Uganda, just before the turn of the century.