Spruce Pine Mining District
Pegmatite mining in Spruce Pine Mining District
Pegmatite mining was once a big part of commerce and industry here in eastern New York and New England.Today these mines are closed.No so for the Spruce Pine Mining District in North Carolina.With a history going back as far as 2000 years it is still going strong.
The pegmatite area covers parts of three counties and stretches for 25 miles and is known as the Spruce Pine Mining District.Early on during the Woodland Age native Americans mined this area for mica.This silvery and glittering mineral was used as a grave decoration and as wampum,wampum was like money and was used to trade for goods.
Pegmatites contain feldspar,quartz and mica.They usually form the majority of minerals in a pegmatite.This is the case in this district.All three minerals are mined for industrial use today.
Mica was first commercial mined in the 1800s in this area.The early use was as isinglass.The wood and coal burning stoves used this heat resistance and see through mineral for the windows in these stoves.In the 1870s when Thomas Edison invented an electric motor there was a boom in the mica market.The mica was used as an insulator in these early motors.Another early use was insulators in radio tubes.Today mica is still used in industry.It is added to paints and plastics,such as metallic flake auto paint.It is still used as an electric insulator.It is added as an ingredient in plaster for wall broad.And many of the woman's make-up products have mica as an ingredient.
Feldspar is a major ingredient in ceramics.China ware,earthenware,plumbing fixtures and floor tiles to name a few.The feldspar acts as a flux in ceramics.Flux here means it lowers the melting point and helps to crystallize the ceramics structure.Feldspar is used in diner ware ,pottery,plumbing fixtures like your toilet,enamel coating and porcelain.It is used as a bonding agent in making abrasive grinding wheels and discs.Uses also include soap and abrasive cleaners. The glass industry uses feldspar as a flux and for its high aluminum content.The fluxing lowers the melting point of the glass mixture and lowers production cost.The aluminum adds resistance to impact,bending and thermal shock in glass.Feldspar is also added to plastics,paper,textiles,rubber and paints.
Quartz was once a once throw in the dump pile from the mines in this district.Today it is a major commodity of the mining.With modern separation technology quartz of high purity is mined in the Spruce Pine Mining District.The quartz makes up about a quarter of the pegmatite.So at 25% of the total minerals content good thing for modern technology and earths resources.The quartz here is of high purity and is used to make semiconductors.Every computer chip contains quartz from this district.That is right ,100% of the quartz in all computer chips comes from this district.I would say quartz has come from being waste to grace.The quartz is also used in the glass industry for high temperature glass.And it is aslo used as crystals in telescopes because of the high purity.The Hale Telescope has crystal made from Spruce Pine mining District quartz.
The pegmatites in the district also contain gemstones.Emeralds,aquamarine,morganite,helidore,garnet,amozonite and smokey quartz.There are many gem mines in this area.Here is a list of some you can visit.
The Rock Mine Tours
Thermal City Gold Mine
Rio Doce Mine
Spruce Pine Gem Mine
Foggy Mountain Gem Mine
Grandfather Gem Mine
Blue Ridge gemstone Mine
Pegmatites are one amazing natural resource that provide us with some many things.From the dishes we serve our meals on to the rings on our fingers.
Spruce Pine North Carolina
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