How Much Moonstone is Mined Each Year?

Moonstone is a beautiful gemstone admired for its shimmery, iridescent glow. It has become a popular jewelry stone, especially for its mystical and spiritual associations. But how much of this ethereal gem actually gets mined per year?

Moonstone is composed of two minerals – orthoclase and albite. It is technically a type of feldspar, although the name moonstone is used for the gem quality, transparent material that displays adularescence (the shimmery light effect). The largest deposits of moonstone are found in Sri Lanka, but it is also mined significantly in India, Australia, Myanmar, and Madagascar. Some moonstone is also produced in Brazil, Mexico, the United States, and Tanzania.

Sri Lanka is the world’s leading producer of moonstone by far. The mining region near Meetiyagoda supplies over 90% of the world’s moonstone demand. Mining has occurred in Sri Lanka for centuries, but operations became more organized in the 1970s. In recent decades, the government has aimed to improve working standards and promote sustainable mining in the moonstone pits. Currently, around 50,000 people work in Sri Lanka’s moonstone mines.

In 2020, Sri Lanka’s gem and jewelry industry exported $542 million USD worth of goods. Moonstone makes up a significant portion of these exports. According to the Sri Lanka Export Development Board, around 65 tons of moonstone is exported each year. With moonstone valued between $3-30 per carat depending on quality, this means Sri Lanka exports around $10-15 million worth of moonstone per year.

India is another major moonstone producer. While production figures are difficult to ascertain, industry experts estimate India supplies 15-20% of the global moonstone market. The main mining region is located in Western Gujarat. India likely produces around 10-15 tons of moonstone annually.

Meanwhile, Myanmar generates around $2-3 million in exports per year from moonstone mining in the Mogok area – perhaps around 5 tons annually. Madagascar is also an emerging moonstone producer, with mines opening in the 2000s near Ilakaka. Output is likely in the range of 2-3 tons per year.

Overall, global moonstone production is estimated at 80-100 tons annually, worth around $25-40 million USD. Demand has been increasing steadily, especially in China and India. However, moonstone remains a niche gemstone, and mining is centered in select regions known for producing quality material. With heightened attention to ethical and sustainable mining practices, the moonstone industry aims for steady yet cautious growth in coming years. Consumers’ desire for the luminous and spiritual stone should continue driving interest and yield just enough new moonstone to satisfy demand.