The Pilot Mountain mine is located in western Nevada, east of the small town of Mina. As with most turquoise mines, this mine opened as a copper claim. Pilot Mountain turquoise was first mined around 1930 as a tunnel mine. Then it became an open pit mine when heavy equipment was available around 1970. While Pilot Mountain is considered an active mine, it is a very small operation. The miners we worked with went in twice per year, bringing out only about 150 to 200 lbs. of rough stone each time. One of the interesting parts of mining is “not knowing what you are going to hit next.”
Pilot Mountain turquoise forms in thin seams, with some nugget formations. According to a former owner, the turquoise that formed in thin seams was high grade with deeper blue-green colors. Most Pilot Mountain turquoise is called “grass roots,” meaning the best deposits are found within ten feet of the surface.