History of Mining in the Carolina Slate Belt

Until the recent successes at the Haile Gold Mine, the Carolina Slate Belt has been largely untouched since the early 1990’s when most active mining and exploration work ceased due to low metal prices.  Despite gold tripling in price over the last decade, further exploration of the area has been limited.  Recent notable gold resource expansion at Haile has provided reason for renewed interest in the historic gold camp.

Historically, the Slate Belt has been known for mainly low grade deposits of high-sulphidation epithermal or ‘hot-spring’ gold.  The recent drill results at Haile have shown that these low grades can be expanded upon by the discovery of high grade feeder gold zones.  Importantly, advances in metallurgical processing have also improved  yields for sulphide-rich ore relative to what was achievable in the early 90’s, thus potentially improving economic certainties.  Additionally, current modern geophysical techniques can focus exploration and drilling more effectively than fifteen years ago; thus testing these stratabound epithermal bulk tonnage gold targets with more precision than previously possible.

NC Map

Local History & Gold Production

In the early 1800’s, the first significant documented gold find in the United States occurred in North Carolina, spurring a rush of prospectors and making it the original “Golden State.”  The area went on to produce the greatest amount of gold in the country until 1848 when gold was discovered in California.  The Carolina Slate Belt, perhaps the most prolific mineral belt in the Eastern United States,  runs southwest from Virginia through the Carolinas and into Georgia.  It is the host of RomarcoMinerals’ Haile Gold Mine (approx. 4.2 Moz gold) and Kennecott Minerals’ Ridgeway Gold Mine (1.5 Moz gold), among others noted below. Interestingly, the moniker ‘Carolina Slate Belt’ is something of a misnomer in that the tectonic zone includes not only sedimentary rock units but also extensive volumes of volcanic and intrusive rocks. 

Carolina Slate Belt Major Historical Gold Producers:

  • Ridgeway (1.5 Moz)
  • Barite Hill (1.88 Moz)
  • Brewer (0.25 Moz)

Both placer and hardrock mining has been a major part of the history of North Carolina, in fact during the mid-1800’s the Charlotte Mint, using locally derived gold, created much of the US gold coin currency.  The state is covered with many hundreds of locations of old historic pits and underground workings which are generally limited to shallow weather surface rocks (saprolite), at less than 50 meters deep.