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Mining history

What has been mined?  |  x  |  x  |  x  |  x  |  x  |  x

The National Association of Mining History Organisations (NAMHO) was formed in 1979 to act as the national body for mining history in the UK and Ireland in order to promote education and research in Mining History.  This page has been prepared to provide a brief introduction for NAMHO members and non-members alike into the history of mining in the UK.  It is based on the research framework document produced for Historic England so largely covers mining in England but the history of mining in Wales, Scotland and Ireland follows very similar paths.

What has been mined?

A wide range of materials have been worked in the mines and quarries of England and these can be broadly categorised as follows:

Energy minerals

  • coal
  • oil shale


  • iron – Mesozoic ironstones, coal measure ironstones, and other iron ores
  • non-ferrous metals – lead, copper, tin, etc.
  • associated gangue minerals – barytes , fluorspar, etc.
  • pigments – ochre etc., and including graphite and carbon black
  • minor metals/minerals – antimony, gold, arsenic, manganese, cobalt, etc.

Bulk minerals

  • stone – building and roofing materials, aggregates, industrial use, e.g. lime
  • sand and gravel – aggregates and industrial use, e.g. glass, moulding sands

Other industrial minerals

  • evaporites – gypsum, salt, potash, celestite, etc.
  • clays – ‘common ’ clay, ball clay, china clay, fireclay, potter’s clays, etc.

Although the terms ‘mining’ and ‘quarrying’ conventionally refer respectively to underground and surface-based operations, legally, industrially, regionally, and in the vernacular, usage varies and so the terms cannot be universally applied.  For example opencast coal workings are often referred to as mines, yet the underground extraction of slate in North Wales is known as quarrying.


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