Inspired by this question, if the Hallelujah Mountains float because they're full of Unobtanium then why doesn't the company mine them instead of spending so much time and effort moving/forcing the Na'vi away from Home Tree?

  • 2
    The script had something to do with the decision.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 17:19
  • The film's companion book suggests that the accepted answer is (unfortunately) incorrect. They were able to mine, the terrain wasn't an issue, they were able to extract significant amounts of unobtanium and they were able to conduct surveys of the mountains.
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 18:06
  • It also deals a hammer-blow to the other answer. The mountains were apparently rich with unobtanium.
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 18:07

3 Answers 3


Bottom-line: Inconvenience.

The Hallelujah mountains was a very difficult location to mine. Reasons:

  1. Flux Vortex: The entire area was full of magnetic interference, which would cause any electronic instrumentation to mess up. There was no way to mine accurately with no electronic instruments to find where to mine.
  2. Terrain: The Hallelujah mountains float high above the ground, thus making it impossible to load the extracted unobtanium. Even worse, they couldn't take the usual mining trucks up there to pick up the mineral at all. There was no feasible way to collect and transport that unobtanium.
  3. Extraction machines: They couldn't have put their extraction machinery anywhere in that area. You couldn't use an excavator, or any standard mining equipment.
  4. Exploration: Since electronic navigation was not an option, most of the area was unmapped and unexplored. It would be very difficult to survey the area without electronics.

Because when they tried it, it resulted in a significant loss of life.

From the Avatar: An Activist Survival Guide factbook:

The public knows nothing about this. The RDA is destroying even these Pandoran masterpieces [The Hallelujah Mountains]. A score of personnel were killed during unobtanium extraction, when a ship-sized formation above them suddenly inverted and crashed down on the workers. Removal of unobtanium had likely disrupted magnetic fields around the mountain, but some maintain it was an act of "balancing" initiated by Eywa


The mountains where not extra dense with Unobtanium, what was extra dense was the strength of the magnetic field around the mountains and that is what caused the Unobtanium in the rock to float.

This point is brought up when the instruments stop working when they first fly in to the mountains.

From the movie transcript:

          THE SAMSON is dwarfed by enormous ARCHES OF ROCK.

                    See these magnetic formations.   We're
                    getting close.

                    Yeah we are. Look at my instruments.

          On the dash, many of the displays are fritzing out.


                    Yup. We're in the flux vortex.

          AHEAD, a cloud bank parts, revealing --

          THE HALLELUJAH MOUNTAINS.   Right in front of them.

                    Oh. My. God.

          Jake leans forward between the seatbacks for a good look out
          the front canopy.

          JAKE'S POV -- enormous islands of rock are hovering a half
          mile above the ground. They are overgrown with rainforest,
          and straggly beards of vines hang down beneath them.
          Waterfalls stream down the sides and dissolve into spray at
          the bottom.

          ON JAKE, staring in amazement.   It is both awe-inspiring and

          Trudy turns, grinning at Jake.

                    You should see your face.

          WIDE AERIAL -- the Samson is tiny as it approaches the
          floating islands of rock. An archipelago among the clouds,
          they cast great shadows over the forested slopes below.

                              JAKE (V.O.)
                    Yeah, so what does hold them up? Grace
                    explained it to me -- some kind of maglev
                    effect because unobtanium is a
                    superconductor, or something. At least
                    somebody understands it. Just not me.
  • Can you provide a quote or reference to back this up?
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 13:32
  • @Richard don't have access to the movie this moment, but I found a copy of the transcript. I will update later tonight with the actual words used in the movie. Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 13:39
  • 1
    I don't see which bit confirms your statement that it's not the mountains that are special
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 13:52
  • I see nothing that confirms that the mountains are special. The only thing that is called out as special is the flux vortex (flux is a measurement of magnetism). Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 14:30
  • 2
    If it were the unobtanium causing the flux vortex, and the ground underneath home tree was the densest concentration of unobtanium, then why wouldn't there also be a 'flux vortex' effect around home tree?
    – Kapler
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 13:22

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