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Powhatan County, Virginia

In Powhatan County, the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) regulates one active mineral mine permit named the Powhatan Plant and owned by the Luck Stone Corporation.  The total land acreage under permit is about 330 acres.  The mine site, located eight miles west of Midlothian on Route 60 produces crushed stone for construction aggregate from a mylonitic gneiss.  Annual production reports indicate a total of about 1.2 million short tons of crushed stone were produced in 2016, with an estimated value of about $18.7M (Table 2).  The value of minerals increased by about 16 percent compared to the estimated value in 2015 (Table 2).  There were a total of 22 workers directly employed by the mining companies in 2016; wage data is withheld to protect the confidentiality of permit holders (Table 3).  Independent contractors employed by the mines are not included in the employment and wage information.

Powhatan County is located in the eastern portion of the Piedmont Physiographic Province where older rocks of mixed age and affinity to the west meet with younger sedimentary rocks to the east in the Richmond basin. This position provides Powhatan County with a wide variety of mineral and energy resources that have been utilized in the past and present, and are potentially available for development in the future (Figure 1).  Powhatan County is largely underlain by older, meta-igneous rocks of the Piedmont in the west and center while the far eastern portion of the county is within the Richmond basin, a Triassic-age half-graben filled with up to 4,000 feet of sandstone, siltstone, shale and with several historically economic coal seams.

Coal has been mined from Triassic strata in the northeastern part of the county near the James River.  The mines occur in what is referred to as the Hugnenot Springs/Manakin coal mining district in the Richmond Triassic basin.  There were five main coal mines in this district in Powhatan County:  Bladon, Norwood, Powhatan, Chesterfield, and Old Dominion.  The Bladon (Scott, Woodward, or Kennen) pits were originally constructed by a Mr. Bladon on the Scott Estate.  This mine was sloped under the James River and was worked for only a few years.  The Norwood mine was opened about 1878 and was operating in 1885.  This was a slope mine 300 feet long, with an average inclination of 23 degrees to the west.  The mine was reclaimed in 1987.  The Powhatan (Finney’s) pits of the Old Dominion Coal Company were originally worked by Captain Finney in the early 1800s.  Two shafts, one 105 feet deep and another180 feet deep, were operated at the mine with a 680 foot slope driven from the bottom of the shafts.  The Chesterfield Coal Company was chartered in 1932 by R. H. Marshall, G. H. Cox, and J. B. and S. F. Dickenson.  One slope was dug 225 feet with an angle of almost 45 degrees.  Extensive roof support was needed because of the geologically unstable nature of the overlying sandstone.  The Old Dominion pits were worked in the early 1800s by the Old Dominion Coal Company. A 125-foot shaft encountered three coals, 2 feet, 3 feet, and 4 feet thick.

Clay materials have been produced near Clayville for use in the manufacture of common, ornamental, and fire brick and near Jefferson for use in clay smoking pipes.  Samples of clay materials at other selected localities in the county have been tested and found potentially suitable for use in the manufacture of brick.  Gravel has been produced at sites in eastern Powhatan County, and monazite, a phosphate of the rare earths, is found in saprolite derived from granitic rocks south of Tobaccoville and just west of Macon.  Graphite occurs near Jefferson. Amphibole asbestos has been reported at unnamed locations (Dietrich, 1990). 

DMME has an active Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) program to help locate and characterize the hazards associated with abandoned coal mines in the Richmond Regional Planning District (Planning District 15).  Maps have been compiled and are available on-line at the DMME web site.

In recent years, DGMR has conducted geologic mapping investigations in the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes most of Powhatan County.  A description of the mapping program is given on the DGMR web site.

Following is a list of references and resources for Powhatan County mineral resources, which includes both references cited above as well as additional sources of information.  Most references can be obtained by contacting DGMR at 434-951-6361 or by visiting our website.

Powhatan County Geologic Map
Powhatan County Historical Mineral Resource Sites
Powhatan County Mineral Production, 2016
Powhatan County Active Mines, 2016
Powhatan County Mineral Resource Industry Data, 2016

Virginia Mineral Production, 1986-present
Virginia Active Mines, 1990-present

Access DGMR's Collections including our Interactive Geologic Map, VGIC (publications, rock samples, geologic maps, coal quality, and orphaned mines) as well as our Webstore where publications can be purchased or downloaded for free.

Access DGMR Collections


Dietrich, R.V., 1990 Minerals of Virginia, 1990:  Division of Mineral Resources, Charlottesville, 474 p.

Watson, T. L., 1907, Mineral resources in Virginia:  Lynchburg, Virginia, J. P. Bell Company, p. 286.

Wilkes, G. P., 1988, Mining history of the Richmond Coalfield of Virginia: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources Publication 85, p. 34-35. 

Sweet, P. C., 1973, Analyses of clay, shale, and related materials-southern counties:  Virginia Division of Mineral Resources Mineral Resources Report 12, p. 160-167.

Brown, W. R., 1962, Mica and feldspar deposits of Virginia: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources Mineral Resources Report 3, p. 94-101.

Sweet, P.C., 1993, Directory of the mineral industry in Virginia-1993:  Virginia Division of Mineral Resources publication 129, 29 p.

Sweet, P.C. and Nolde, J.E., 1999, Coal, oil and gas, and industrial and metallic minerals industries in Virginia, 1998: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources Publication 153, 25 p.

Watson, T. L., 1907, Mineral Resources of Virginia:  Lynchburg, Virginia, J. P. Bell Company, p. 189.

Giannini W. F., and Penick, D. A., Jr., 1983, Large gem topaz crystal discovery:  Virginia Division of Mineral Resources Virginia Minerals, v. 29, n. 1, p. 1-3.

Thorium and Uranium
Krason, et. al., 1988 Geochemistry and Radioactivity in the Powhatan Area, Virginia. Virginia Division of Mineral Resources Publication 78, 60 p.