Roger Weller, geology instructor
Mining in North Carolina
North Carolina is well known for its mining. Igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks are all found in North Carolina. Minerals such as gold, emerald, granite, feldspar, mica, and pyrophyllite are found in North Carolina. North Carolina leads the nation in the production of feldspar, mica and pyrophyllite. Mining alone is a half-billion dollar industry in North Carolina.
One of the first minerals found in North Carolina was gold, the chemical element
(Au). Gold was discovered in North Carolina in 1799 by a farmer named John Reed
in Carrabus County. North Carolina had a gold rush long before California.
Gold was found in Anson, Burke, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Rutherford, and many
other counties in North Carolina. Gold is a metallic element with a yellow
color that can be used for: jewelry, dentistry, and electronics to name a few.
Dentists use gold for bridges and crowns; the use of gold in dentistry often
preserves a tooth.
Gold is also a good conductor of heat and electricity. It is used to perform critical functions in computers, communication equipment, and aircraft engines. Gold is used for plating silverware, gold trim on ceramic plates, and money/coins. When gold is used for silverware, plates, and money, it's mixed with other elements such as copper. Gold is mixed with these certain elements, because it’s too soft to be used alone, this method prevents the risk of breaking or damage.
gold trim on plates-http://www.libtiff.org/products/TA/885/14885.html
gold plate on dinning utensils-http://www.fingerhut.com
The emerald is one of the most expensive and rare of all gemstones; it was also named the official state stone of North Carolina by the General Assembly in 1973. The chemical elements of an emerald varies, the most common is Be2Al2SiO6. Emeralds are formed by rising magma and metamorphism. This gemstone is mined in North Carolina; the largest emerald crystal found in North America was from the state of North Carolina, at the Rist Mine in 1969. The crystal weighed 1,438 carats. The emerald is the birthstone for the month of May. According to Wilkipedia, “In some cultures the emerald is the traditional gift for the 55th wedding anniversary.” Many ancients believed, “The emerald was a dedication to the Goddess Venus; they also believed that it was good for the eye. The emerald brings forth faithfulness between lovers, and intelligence.”
emerald crystals-photo by R.Weller
Granite is another rock found
in North Carolina. The granite was named the official state rock in 1979.
Granite is used for monuments, and stones for buildings. “The largest
open-faced granite quarry in the world is located at Mount Airy, North
Carolina.” Granite is used for counter tops in modern homes, for a hard,
finish. The most common and frequent use of granite is in street paving.
photo by R.Weller
Other minerals such as feldspar, mica, and pyrophyllite (OH)2Al2(Si4O10) are mined in North Carolina. Feldspar components are used in television pictures along with quartz. It is also used in tiles, ceramics, and dinnerware, such as plates/china. Mica is used in household items such as: toasters, glasses, and vacuum tubes. North Carolina is the leading manufacturer of mica. Pyrophyllite is another mineral that North Carolina produces, and leads the nation in the production of. Pyrophyllite is commonly use in white, fabric marking pencils. Sometimes it is used to replace talc. This is a very soft mineral.
feldspar-photo by R.Weller
mica-photo by R.Weller
pyrophyllite-photo by R.Weller
Mines in North Carolina
North Carolina is well known for its mining. There are over 300 minerals that can be found in the mines of North Carolina. Mining is a great part of this historical state. There are many places to mine in North Carolina. Below are places a person can mine if you are ever in the Tarheel State.
The Famous Bon Ami Mine
The Big Deal Mine