The President of the Ammonite Factory with 30 years experience in the industry states that this new ammolite producing mine called The Red Dragon Mine is proven to be exceptionally high yielding surpassing any other ammolite mines he has seen before.
Mining takes part in the Bearpaw Formation, which used to be the Bearpaw Sea of the Western Interior Seaway. This formation extends from Alberta to Saskatchewan and into Montana. Commercial extraction occurs only in Alberta due to the superior grade of gem collected. Mining is mechanized but fairly basic: pits are dug up to 100 meters deep and the excavated material is screened for its potential gem contents. The pits are further examined by hand - in fact every centimetre of exposed shale is carefully observed due to the valuable nature of this gem. Approximately 50% of the Ammolite mined is suitable for jewelry, and only 1-10% mined is naturally AA grade (which is the top grade as per IGS).
The Ammolite deposits are found in several layers. The shallowest of these layers, the “K Zone”, lies some 15 meters below the surface and extends 30 meters down. "K Zone" will only have a very small amount of AA grade Ammolite. The Ammolite within this layer is covered by siderite concretions and is usually cracked and fractured through deposition—this is the crush or “dragonskin” material. Beginning twenty meters below the crush material is the “Blue Zone”; Ammolite from this zone, which extends 65 meters further down, is usually compressed with a thin layer of pyrite rather than siderite concretions. This is the sheet material with fewer or no fractures; due to its depth it is rarely mined and usually hand collected but holds the majority of AA Ammolite. Much of our Ammolite comes from this layer. Interestingly, "Blue Zone" Ammolite only is found in southeastern Alberta. This is why "Blue Zone" Ammolite is the most desirable and rare. Lower grade "K Zone" can be found in other areas, such as some parts of the northwestern United States and in Central Alberta near Red Deer River.