Jade is found in masses with different types of Jade to include Jadeite and Nephrite. Nephrite is tougher and harder to break than Jadeite crystal. The Polar Pride boulder was called the find of the millennium by trade experts and was discovered in Canada. The 18-ton boulder was split in half to be used for carving. British Columbia, Canada is the largest producer and exporter of nephrite jade in the world. All of the known Jade deposits in BC are of the nephrite variety,
Nephrite mining in the province of British Columbia is very challenging. Winters are typically long and extremely cold, and deposits of Nephrite are remote, so mining can only happen during the shorter summer season, which is only about 60 days a year.
Nephrite deposits range in size from 12 inches to 12 feet wide. The wider deposits of jade are very challenging to a quarry. Nephrite boulders on the surface can sometimes reach weights of about 200 tons and are rarely under 100 pounds, but Jade West tries to limit the overall weight of its jade Nephrite boulders to five tons, which is a good size for them to mine, handle, and then transport on trucks to the nearest town, which is about 100 miles away. The average weight of Nephrite is two tons, a size that satisfies most of the carving factories in China.
Jade was first identified in Canada by the Chinese settlers in 1886 in British Columbia, Canada. At this time Jade was considered to be worthless as they were searching for Gold. Jade was not a commercialized stone in Canada until the 1970s. Commercial mining of Canadian jade began in 1972, by two Californians who started the mining business Loex James Ltd. There are over fifty known Nephrite occurrences found in British Columbia. These occurrences are located in Southern British Columbia, the Cassiar, Cry and Dease Lake, and Mount Ogden areas.