History of Graphite Mining in Alabama
The Alabama mines contributed to about half the total domestic output in the early 1900″s. Graphite mining reached its peak in Clay and Coosa counties during World War I.
Forty-three major mines and 30 processing plants were in operation during this period. In the 1950s, graphite mining began a decline as technological advances led to the development and production of artificial graphite and as imports of less expensive foreign graphite increased.
The graphite was found in lenses of graphitic schist, which occur in a broad belt stretching southwestward across Clay, Coosa, and Chilton counties. Where mined the schist contains an average of about 3 or 4 per cent of graphitic carbon. The deposits are typically weathered to depths of 50 to 65 feet, and the mining was confined to the weathered material. Weathering has lessened the coherence between the graphite and other minerals, and consequently the material is more easily mined and milled than unweathered material.
(Henry G. Ferguson of the U. S. Geological Survey and Ecyclopediaof Alabama)