MINERAL OF THE MONTH: GARNET [May 31 2016]
Garnet is a group of closely related minerals that display a wide variety of colour ranging from deep red and orange to green and purple. While Garnet is popularly known as a semi-precious stone, it is mostly used as an industrial mineral. Harder species of garnets such as Almandine are used as abrasives and in water jet cutting. Garnet is also used in water filtration.
With increased awareness of the occupational health and safety risks associated with sand-blasting, industrial garnet is replacing silica sand as an abrasive in many parts of the world. Silica is not as hard or inert as garnet and silica produces hazardous dust during blasting that can cause silicosis and other serious health problems. Even while sand-blasting has been outlawed in Europe since the 1960s, it is still a technique used in textile manufacturing in some countries, to give denim jeans a pre-worn look. Investigative reporting has found that sand blasting is still in the supply chain of some popular jeans brands, while other brands have recently ruled out the practice.