Lead is a heavy, soft, ductile metal with a low melting point. Its chemical symbol is Pb. Its main ore mineral is galena (PbS). The main uses for lead are in batteries, construction materials, ammunition, paint and glass.
Year of first production in Virginia: 1750
Location of first production in Virginia: Austinville, Wythe County
Year of last production in Virginia: 1981
Location of last production in Virginia: Austinville, Wythe County
Total cumulative production in Virginia: 272,000 short tons (1756-1981) (Sweet et al, 1989)
Current annual production in Virginia: none
Historically, Virginia lead deposits played important roles in both the Revolutionary and Civil wars. Important deposits mined for lead to make bullets were located near Austinville, in Wythe County, and at Faber, in Albemarle County.
Copper, lead, and zinc deposits have been found in the Cambrian Shady Dolomite in the Valley and Ridge Province. The most important deposit of the zinc-lead ores within the Shady Dolomite is the Austinville-Ivanhoe group of ore bodies in Wythe County. In the Piedmont province, lead has been found in massive sulfide lenses in the Cambrian Chopawamsic Formation, which crops out for 110 miles northeast-southwest across central Virginia, and includes Louisa and Buckingham counties. There are also lead-zinc mines, prospects and occurrences in Upper Triassic sedimentary rocks in the Culpeper basin in Orange and Prince William counties.
Selected References: Currier, L. W., 1935, Zinc and lead region of southwestern Virginia: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources, Bulletin 43, 122 p.
Foley, N. K., and Craig, J. R., 1989, Mineralogy and geochemistry of the lead-zinc ores of the Austinville-Ivanhoe District, Wythe County, Virginia: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources, Publication 88, p. 23-39.
Luttrell, G. W., 1966, Base- and precious-metal and related ore deposits of Virginia: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources, Mineral Resources Report 7, 167 p.
Sweet, P. C., Good, R. S., Lovett, J. A., Campbell, E. V. M., Wilkes, G. P., and Meyers, L. L., 1989, Copper, lead, and zinc resources in Virginia: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources Publication 93, 185 p.
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].
Weinberg, E. L., 1980, Austinville mining – 1756 to present: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources, Virginia Minerals, v. 26, n.1, p.11.