Reclaiming Healthy Ground

We thoroughly enjoy doing what we do as a brick supply company and building materials manufacturer.  After all, we’ve been at it for 87 years now and we’re grateful our building products continue to be a popular choice among homeowners and professionals.  But General Shale is about more than just bricks and mortar.  Our products have a genuine capacity to provide a healthy environment for the lives of our customers (which you can learn about on page 4 of our Brick Brochure). But there’s one process that perhaps you don’t know much about that deals with that very thing:  “Reclamation.”

The primary raw material that helps create the warmth and stability of brick is shale. The shale is obtained from shallow surface mines using scraper pans, bulldozers and excavators, which remove first the topsoil (stored on site for later use) and then several layers of rock.

Reclamation, simply put, is our process for returning the land or mine site to a healthy condition suitable for wildlife habitat. After a mine has been exhausted of ceramic quality shale, we essentially use the same equipment used to mine the shale to reduce any steep slopes, “put back” the topsoil, add key nutrients and re-establish vegetation.  So, how does this work?

First, the site is graded and covered with topsoil. The reclaimed area will then be seeded with a mixture of grasses, clover and lespedeza. Finally, the site is stabilized with mulch or erosion mats and provided with an appropriate amount of fertilizer (based on soil analysis). Trees are often planted once the reclamation process has progressed to some degree.


Before   After


While the above is an albeit brief look at our reclamation process, there is a considerable amount of detail and careful planning that goes into ensuring we meet our primary goal of establishing the long-term stability of any reclaimed site.  So, the next time you pass by one of our mining sites, it’s expected that in the future you wouldn’t recognize it as it provides food for livestock, recreation for the community and habitat for wildlife!

Did you know?

In July 2015, General Shale was awarded the top reclamation honor for its Yuma location; this honor is given jointly by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy’s Division of Mineral Mining and the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance. This reclamation project was also nominated for the national award through the Interstate Mining Compact Commission.