Pick Mining for Peridot on the San Carlos Apache Reservation
PERIDOT — Several roads lead to the world’s largest deposit of peridot but less than half of them actually lead to the mine itself. They do, however, lead to roads that might lead to the mine. But once there, there’s no actual mine because mining peridot is not a high-tech extraction process. Instead, the site is a gorge in the flatlands of the San Carlos Apache Reservation, and the miners are Apaches equipped with hammers, crowbars and coffee cans.
Peridot is a green, transparent, semiprecious stone that was once popular among Egyptian royalty. It still commands respect as one of the two August birthstones, and the only other places it’s found are in Egypt, Hawaii and New Mexico. The mining process here is basic hardscrabble — a bulldozer opens up the land and the miners dig by hand to find the green treasures, used primarily in jewelry. On a good day, they may fill their coffee cans to the halfway mark and make up to $100.
Those seeking that kind of wealth should be aware, however, that the mining area is off-limits to non-residents, who can face heavy fines if they’re caught claim jumping. The small village of Peridot is 17 miles east of Globe on US Highway 70.