Southeastern Section - 64th Annual Meeting (19–20 March 2015)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 9:50 AM


DRAKE, Robert, Specialty Vermiculite Corporation, 26383 Highway 221 N, Enoree, SC 29335,

Vermiculite has been mined in the Upstate region of South Carolina for over 60 years. Most of the vermiculite ore bodies in the Upstate are small, covering less than 10 acres in area and rarely extending deeper than 60 feet. The ore bodies typically occur in the Laurens Thrust Stack, which covers most of Laurens County, the southern end of Spartanburg County and the northeastern tips of Greenwood and Abbeville Counties. The vermiculite mining district historically has been centered within a radius of 30 miles of Enoree, SC. Mining in the area has comprised family-owned operations, regional companies and multinational organizations. Traditional uses for vermiculite include horticultural soil amendments, construction product additives, insulation, roofing material and masonry fill. During the mining history of the Enoree area, many of the ore bodies containing vermiculite best suited for use in traditional materials have been mined out. As a result of depletion, mineable ore bodies containing vermiculite satisfactory for traditional uses now lie on the fringe of the mining region, far from the processing facilities; in smaller, short-lived, nearby deposits; or in deposits that present unique, costly challenges to mining. However, with the development of new products, the reformulation of traditional products and the exploration of new markets, vermiculite deposits that were once overlooked, or determined to be unsuitable for conventional use, have been given new life. Deposits considered to be mined-out a decade ago have been reevaluated and exploited for additional material. A mining district once considered to be nearing the end of its life is now looking forward to many more decades of robust existence.