Summary of key minerals industry activities in North Carolina in 1996

This page provide a summary of key minerals' industry activities in North Carolina in 1996 and sources of additional information. Refer also to the page on this Internet site "Answers of Frequently Asked Questions" for information from the former US Bureau of Mines -- now part of the US Geolological Survey (USGS).

According to statistics compiled by the USGS for 1995, North Carolina led the US in production of feldspar, crude mica, lithium minerals and olivine. North Carolina ranked second in production of phosphate rock, fifth in production of talc and pyrophyllite and common clay, and seventh in production of sand and gravel. Overall, North Carolina ranked seventeenth in value of nonfuel minerals. Estimated value of production was slightly over $742,000,000, an increase of 5% over 1994. This followed a gain of almost 15% from 1993 to 1994. Aggregates (crushed stone, sand and gravel) accounted for over half of production value, and phosphate and other industrial minerals comprised most of the remaining value. Preliminary data from the USGS Minerals Information Team shows that for most commodities, values for 1996 will probably equal or exceed those of 1995. There were no significant acquisitions or mergers affecting North Carolina companies.

Common clays mined from mudstones from the Triassic basins and residual soils (saprolite) developed on crystalline rocks provide the basis for the state's brick industry. According to the Brick Association of North Carolina, North Carolina ranks first in brick production. Thirteen companies produced approximately 1 billion units in 1995, approximately $126,000,000. These manufacturers supply 16% of all the brick used in the United states. Brick market share for new homes is 34% in North Carolina.

The North Carolina Geological Survey (NCGS) published open-file report 97-1 which identifies active and inactive mining operations permitted by the Land Quality Section, Division of Land Resources, as of November 1, 1996. It provides a comprehensive listing of mines by county and by commodity, and includes historical data on permitting and reclamation statistics, mineral exploration and production news, regulations, legislation, and sources of geological information and topographic maps in North Carolina. This report includes a series of maps showing the distribution of mines on a North Carolina county base, by commodity. For each commodity, the report lists the total number of permits, new acres disturbed, total acres permitted at the end of the calendar years 1989 through 1995, and shows the total number of active, inactive and released mines in the state's inventory.

According to information provided to the North Carolina Division of Land Resources, the state recorded overall increases in most phases of mining activity in 1995. These include increases in the number of mining permits issues, number of acres permitted, and number of mines on inventory. Some statistics for 1995 are as follows:

Unimin is adding two major plants to its feldspar and silica production facility near Spruce Pine. FMC Lithium continues to operate its spodumene mine near Bessemer City but has announced plans to shut down this part of the North Carolina facility. The nearby chemical plant will continue to operate but the basic feedstock of lithium carbonate will be shipped in from their new solar evaporation brine facility being constructed in Argentina, S.A.

Becker Minerals Inc., received the North Carolina Mining Commission's annual reclamation award for its reclamation project on a 1,198 acre site in Harnett County which included previously mined areas, future mineral reserves, the plant site, and waste and buffer areas. The project also received an honorable mention from the Interstate Mining Compact Commission's national annual awards program.

The Land Quality Section, in cooperation with the NC Mining Commission, recently published the "Surface Mining Manual." It is a guide for permitting, operation and reclamation. The manual assists mining permit applicants to properly complete applications so that the applications can be processed in a timely manner. It also clarifies operating and reclamation conditions of the permits to mine operators. The Division of Land Resources was successful in securing legislation to provide continuing funding for technical assistance to miner permit applicants.

The NCGS provides basic geologic information. Current studies include geologic mapping, stratigraphic framework studies, mineral resource investigations, and environmental and engineering studies. The focus of geologic mapping at the 1:24,000-scale are the Asheville and Raleigh 30 x 60 minute quadrangles. Mapping is supported, in part, with funds from the USGS through funding provided by the National Geologic Mapping Act. In cooperation with the USGS, mineral occurrence data for the North Carolina Mine Permit database are being integrated with the MRDS and MAS/MILS databases of the USGS.

Funds were identified recently to authorize work to complete digital quarter-quad (DOQQ) coverage of the entire state. The leaf-off black and white photography was taken in 1993. Pixel resolution is about 1-3 meters. At present over 1,000 DOQQs have been received, or about 33% of the state covering the Coastal Plain and the rapid growth areas of the central Piedmont. Detailed information on the DOQQ program is available elsewhere on this Internet site.

The production of digital raster graphics (DRGs) of all the 7.5-minute topographic maps was authorized. The DRGs will be packaged in 1 degree by 1 degree blocks (64 7.5-minute maps) along with the respective 30 x 60-minute (100K) and 1:250,000-scale maps. The maps will be produced in TIFF format on CD-ROMs. Detailed information on the DRG program is available elsewhere on this Internet site.

The NCGS' $600,000 repository expansion construction and renovation, started in 1996, will be complete in May 1997. The project consists of a 4.500-square foot expansion, and repair and renovation to the existing 3,000-square foot building. The project will more than double sample storage space and provide a much needed upgrade of office, laboratory and general office work space to serve project needs, and users from industry and the university communities.

The NCGS and the Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Science (NC State University) with support from the NC Department of Transportation, US Minerals Management Service, and the NC Division of Water Resources are involved in three separate projects offshore of the North Carolina Outer Banks. The common purpose of these projects is to determine if there are sufficient suitable sand resources available to the offshore region to sustain a beach nourishment program within given segments of the Outer Banks coastline. Al three projects involve the collection and analysis of shallow, high-resolution seismic data, side-scan sonar data, and vibracore sampling to develop a three-dimensional framework.

The NCGS received the 1996 Gary Prazen "Living Legend Award" from the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum, Leadville, Colorado, for the NCGS' role in establishing the "Talking Rocks Trail" at Clemmons Educational State Forest (about 15 miles southeast of Raleigh). The 1,800-foot trail has seven stations which provide the message that "if its not grown, its mined." The program meets the Department of Public Instruction's curriculum guidelines. About 50,000 people visit Clemmons annually. The trail is geared to elementary school children, their teachers, and citizens. The program is the result of a highly successful partnership between industry and government. The "Talking Rock Trail" concept is spreading nationally and beyond.

Education outreach activities included a joint grant from the NC Mining Commission to the NC Geological Survey and the Minerals Research Laboratory (MRL) to produce and distribute up to 800 additional rock kits to the public schools. The NCGS, MRL and industry participated in the NC State Science Teacher's convention; the NCGS had a very successful booth at the State Fair. There is renewed optimism that geology will be approved as a mandatory laboratory course required for high school graduation.


For further information

Interested parties should contact this agency and request that your name be added to the DRG waiting list. You should provide your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address. Request that this information be provided to Dr. Jeffrey C. Reid, Chief Geologist, who maintains the waiting list. You will be contacted when this product is available.

You may also contact the North Carolina Geological Survey by e-mail at: jeff_reid@mail.ehnr.state.nc.us

by mail at PO Box 27687, Raleigh, NC 27611-7687, or walk-in. Our map sales office has been relocated to the basement of the Archdale Building located at 512 North Salisbury Street, Raleigh, NC 27604-1148. There is nearby metered street parking on Salisbury Street, and a public parking deck about one and one-half blocks south on Salisbury Street. There is a nominal parking deck charge. The direct telephone line for map and publication sales is (919) 715-9718.

The general North Carolina Geological Survey telephone number is (919) 733-2423; the general facsimile number is (919) 733-0900. The Asheville Regional Office is (704) 251-6208. The Coastal Plain Office and Repository is (919) 733-7353. Return to this site's home page and click here "Office Directory and Responsibilities" for other direct facsimile and electronic addresses.

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Authors: Dr. Jeffrey C. Reid, Chief Geologist and Dr. Robert H. Carpenter
Copyright © North Carolina Geological Survey. All rights reserved.
Revised: December 19, 1997.