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Santa Fe man hopes to transform garnet market

December 15, 2013 • State News

OROGRANDE, N.M. (AP) — Driving through this stark landscape south of Alamogordo, it’s easy to miss Orogrande with its one convenience store, post office and a closed-up mining museum.

Still, there are enough relics and beaten-down structures that one can picture the boom years of the 1900s, when men flooded the area, living in tents to seek out gold and turquoise. By 1905, the year after a 6 1/2-ounce gold nugget was discovered in a dry wash, the rush had spawned a railroad, a smelter, a 16-person real estate office, a barbershop, a hotel and nine saloons. “Rich ore poured out of the mines by the trainload,” reads an Otero County history blog.

By the 1940s, the area was largely mined out, and today the Orogrande Trading Post on U.S. 54 is the center of the community for its 50 residents. But when the sun is just right, the mineral left behind by those seeking easy money reflects in the hillsides. And if Santa Fe businessman Daniel Burrell is right, then Orogrande, in New Mexico’s Jicarra Mountains, will soon be known for having the largest reserve of garnet in the United States.

Gemstone-quality garnet is rare and largely found in places such as Madagascar and South Africa. What Orogrande offers is an industrial garnet increasingly needed by manufacturers for cleaning, cutting and air blasting. One of the hardest materials, garnet is Login to read more

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