In 2006, there were nine active mining permits in Augusta County with six of the mines actively producing crushed stone, sand or gravel for use as aggregate. Annual production reports for 2006 indicate that a total of about 1.5 million short tons of aggregate were produced worth approximately $16.0 million, while in 2005 2.0 million short tons were produced, generating approximately $19.4 million. Employment in the mining industry totals indicate 77 workers held positions associated with the active permits, earning approximately $2.25 million in wages.
Of the six actively producing operations, three produce sand and gravel, two produce crushed limestone, and one operation produces crushed sandstone. These aggregate products are used principally as roadstone, concrete aggregate and asphalt stone. The three permitted but non-operating mines are reported as limestone, sand, and chemical-metallurgical quality limestone (high Calcium limestone).
A great deal of exploration and prospecting activity has occurred in Augusta County over the last one hundred fifty years. The Mineral Resources of Virginia (MRV) database, created and maintained by the Geology and Mineral Resources Program, has 352 records for mineral occurrences, drill holes, pits, quarries, mines, shafts and prospects. The attached geologic map shows the locations of these mineral records as well as the locations of the above-mentioned permitted mining operations.
Historically, clay (kaolinite), manganese and iron ore, bauxite, silver and various aggregates have been commercially produced in Augusta County. Clay was produced from the Cold Spring Mine from 1918 through 1951 for the paint and paper industries (Upchurch, 1998). In 1982, some of the waste product from the original clay mining operation at Cold Spring Mine was used as filler material by the James River Limestone Company at their location in Buchanan, Virginia (Sweet, 1991). Additional clay pits have been identified that sourced clay for brick and drain tile manufacturing operations. The Crimora Mine, located 2.5 miles southeast of the Town of Crimora, was the largest producer of manganese ore in the United States in the early 1900’s (Stose et al, 1919). Additional small mines were also worked for manganese along the flank of the Blue Ridge, north and south of the Crimora Mine. Small iron ore pits and excavations have been located near Buffalo Gap (Rader, 1967), along the western slope of Little North Mountain (Kozak, 1970), and near Fishersville (Watson, 1907). The Lehigh Portland Cement Company quarried carbonate rocks approximately 1.5 miles south of Craigsville for use in the manufacture of cement until 1968 (Kozak, 1970). Reports of minor aluminum ore (bauxite) and silver mined on a very small scale are also present in the literature. Two small bauxite (aluminum ore) mines were worked near the intersection of Rts. 670 and 674 in the 1940’s but there is no evidence of an extensive deposit present (Rader, 1967). Silver is reported to have been mined at the Augusta Springs Silver Mine starting in 1800 from a 75-foot long tunnel, located approximately 2.2 miles southwest of Augusta Springs on the northwest slope of Brown Ridge (Sweet, 1991).
Carbonate rocks in Augusta County have been analyzed in several studies in order to better understand the chemical composition of the limestone and dolomite that occur in Virginia (Edmundson, 1958; Giannini and Hostettler, 1994). In addition to it’s common use as an aggregate, carbonate rocks are used in various industrial processes requiring specific rock compositions. For example, high-purity limestone is used in the manufacture of glass and steel, supplement in fertilizer and animal feed, coal mine dust suppressor, acid neutralizer, and control of sulfur and nitrogen emissions from coal-fired electric power plants (Giannini and Hostettler, 1994). Previous studies have identified such high-purity limestone as well as high-Magnesium dolomites in Augusta County, which may be appropriate for industrial markets.
Augusta County Geologic Map
Augusta County Geologic Map unit descriptions
Augusta County Historical Mineral Resource Sites
Augusta County Mineral Production, 1986-present
Augusta County Active Mines, 1990-present
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Calver, James L. and Le Van, D. C., 1964, Analysis of clay, shale and related materials – west central counties: Division of Mineral Resources Mineral Resources Report 5, p. 37-80.
Sweet, Palmer C., 1982, Virginia clay material resources: Division of Mineral Resources Publication 36, p. 10-11.
Sweet, Palmer C., 1998, Mining and processing by-product resources in Virginia: Virginia Minerals vol. 44, no. 2, p. 10.
Upchurch, M.L., 1998, The Cold Spring and related clay deposits along the western slope of the central blue ridge in Virginia: Virginia Minerals vol. 44, no. 1, p. 1-8.
Gathright, T. M. II, Henika, W. S., and Sullivan, J. L., III, 1978, Geology of the Crimora Quadrangle, Virginia: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources Publication 13, text and 1:24,000 scale map.
Stose, G. W., Miser, H. D., Katz, F. J., and Hewett, D. F., 1919, Manganese deposits of the west foot of the Blue Ridge, Virginia: Virginia Geological Survey Bulletin XVII, p. 83-112.
Watson, Thomas L., 1908, Annual report on the mineral production of Virginia during the calender Year 1908: Virginia Geological Survey Bulletin no. 1-A, p. 35-38.
Kozak, Samuel J., 1970, Geology of the Elliot Knob, Deerfield, Craigsville, and Augusta Springs Quadrangles, Virginia: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources Report of Investigations 21, p. 20.
Rader, Eugene K., 1967, Geology of the Staunton, Churchville, Greenville, and Stuarts Draft Quadrangles, Virginia: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources Report of Investigations 12, p. 35.
Watson, T. L., 1907, Mineral Resources of Virginia: Lynchburg, Virginia, Jamestown Exposition Commission, 618 p.
(available as Virginia Division of Mineral Resources, 2003, Digital reprint of T. L. Watson’s 1907 Mineral resources of Virginia: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources Publication 175, [CD-ROM; 2003, September 1].
Carbonates (limestone and dolomite)
Edmundson, Raymond S., 1945, Industrial limestones and dolomites in Virginia: northern and central parts of Shenandoah Valley: Virginia Geological Survey Bulletin 65, 195 p. and maps.
Edmundson, Raymond S., 1958, Industrial limestones and dolomites in Virginia: James River district west of the Blue Ridge: Division of Mineral Resources Bulletin 73, 137 p. and maps.
Gathright, T. M., II, Hennika, W. S., and Sullivan, J. L. II, 1977, Geology of the Waynesboro East and Waynesboro West Quadrangles, Virginia: Division of Mineral Resources Publication 3, p. 28-29.
Giannini, William F., and Hostettler, Karen K., 1994, Analyses of carbonate rocks – northwestern Virginia (Elkins-Staunton 0.5 X 1 Quadrangles): Division of Mineral Resources Publication 135, 160 p.
Sweet, Palmer, C., 1991, Precious-metal mines, prospects, and occurrences in Virginia – an update: Virginia Minerals, Vol. 37, no. 1, p. 2.