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Florida Geological Survey - Geology Topics

FLORIDA’S MINERALS: Making Modern Life Possible

Florida’s Mineral Commodities
Florida ranks fifth in the nation with an industrial mineral production value of $1.92 billion.  Minerals from the earth are the building blocks of our modern society.  Florida’s minerals are utilized both locally within the state and worldwide.

A Florida Limestone Quarry

Limestone - Florida ranks second nationally in production and fourth in consumption of crushed stone (limestone and dolostone).  Most of the stone that is mined in Florida is used for road construction. 

Limestone of high purity can undergo calcination (heating) and, together with other ingredients, be used to manufacture portland and masonry cement.  Florida ranks in the top five states in production and consumption of portland cement and is first in the production and consumption of masonry cement. 

Sand and Gravel - Florida ranks approximately 15th in the country in sand and gravel used or produced.  Sand and gravel is subdivided into construction and industrial sand, the bulk of which is, in Florida, construction grade.

Clay - Fuller's Earth, common clay, and kaolin are mined in few locations in Florida.  Fuller's Earth is typically used as an absorbent material, while kaolin is used in the manufacture of paper and refractories.  Common clay, mined in small quantities from various locations throughout the state, is used in the manufacture of brick, cement and lightweight aggregate.

Heavy Minerals - Two of the five companies that mine heavy minerals in the Unites States are located in Florida.   A variety of minerals are located in the Florida heavy mineral sand deposits including ilmenite, rutile, zircon, and leucoxene.  Ilmenite and rutile are primary ingredients in the manufacture of titanium dioxide pigments, used in the manufacture of paint, varnish and lacquers, plastics, and paper. 

A central Florida Phosphate Mine

A Central Florida Phosphate Mine

 Phosphate - Florida producers supplied approximately one-quarter of the world's phosphate needs and three-quarters of US domestic needs.  Nearly all of the rock that is mined in Florida, 28.6 million metric tons in 2000, was used to manufacture fertilizer which, in turn, was used for agricultural purposes.  What was not used in the manufacture of fertilizer was used in a number of products including feed supplements, vitamins, soft drinks, and toothpaste.  In 2000, $1.13 billion dollars worth of fertilizer was exported from Florida making it another one of Florida's leading export commodities.

Peat - An organic-rich accumulation of decaying plant material.  Florida ranks in the top five states nationally in the production of horticultural peat.      

Map is color coded to show the type of minerals mined in specific locations within the state

Mine Locations in Florida
Click Picture to Enlarge

Mining occurs throughout Florida.  Mines are typically situated in areas where the commodity is shallow enough to economically extract.  The local geology therefore plays a major role in mine location.  The following map illustrates the distribution of mines in Florida.  The colored dots represent different mineral commodities.  Each dot may represent more than one mine.

Florida Mining History

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The earliest mining in Florida was carried out by Native Americans, who quarried the mineral chert from limestone for use in points and tools. Alluvial clay deposits were also utilized by Native Americans for pots and other cooking utensils.

In the 1500’s, Spanish settlers and soldiers quarried coquina limestone near St. Augustine to form building blocks for their forts and homes.

Limestone has been used in Florida as a building material and source of lime and cement since Spanish times.  High-purity limestone has been quarried near Ocala, Marion County, since the turn of the century  Limestone is still an important industry in Florida, supplying raw materials for cement and roadbase.

The first commercial phosphate mining in Florida occurred at Dunellon, Marion County, in 1889, .  Hardrock phosphate deposits were dredged in and near the Withlacoochee River.

Early phosphate dredge near Dunnellon, Florida

Early phosphate dredge near Dunnellon, Florida

Pebble phosphate was discovered in the late 1880’s in central Florida near Ft. Meade, Polk County.  Its discovery eventually led to the demise of the hardrock deposit mining.  Today the region is known as the Central Florida Phosphate District.  Several companies operate mines in the district.

Fuller’s earth was discovered near Quincy, Gadsden County, in 1893.  It’s uses in processing mineral oils made it an important industrial commodity.  Mining continues in the region today.

Heavy mineral mining began in 1916 near Mineral City (now Ponte Vedra Beach) to supply ilmenite for WWI titanium tetrachloride production.  In the mid-1920s, zircon and rutile were also produced in this area.  Other beach deposits near Jacksonville, Melborne, and Vero Beach were worked through the WWII years.  Extraction of heavy minerals is today concentrated along the Trail Ridge of western Duval and Clay Counties.

Last updated: November 10, 2014

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