Garnet is a semiprecious gemstone that can be useful in many processes. It is widely used in jewellery for over thousands of years. The smaller grades of garnet are used in industrial processes such as water jet cutting, sand blasting and water filtration media. In India, Garnet is abundantly found in the coastal regions of Tamil Nadu, specifically on the Gulf of Mannar. It is a heavy mineral, and it is extracted through beach sand mining called heavy mineral mining.
Garnet as a heavy mineral is available mostly in beach sand. It’s available with other beach minerals like ilmenite, rutile, etc. Majority of the heavy minerals have iron content in them. The percentage of iron content varies from mineral to mineral, for example garnet contains 30% of iron content whereas Ilmenite has 50% iron content.
A rare earth drum (RED) is used in the process. It is a drum like rolling machine having static magnets covered by metallic drum. When raw material passes through this rotary drum, the magnetic force attracts the minerals. The degree of attraction varies according to the iron content. Ilmenite which has more iron content will move more close to the rolling drum and garnet having lesser iron content will be in the second level. Both the minerals will collect in two separate collecting plates.
One of the premier companies that indulge in heavy mineral mining of Garnet is V.V. Mineral. They are India’s biggest mining, manufacturers and exporters of Garnet. They have been awarded as the ‘Number One Garnet Exporters’ of our country. They also undertake Zircon mining, Rutile mining and Ilmenite mining.