South Carolina Rocks and Minerals

Most of the good rock and mineral areas lie in the more mountainous northwestern part of South Carolina.

South Carolina is located on the southern Eastern Seaboard of the United States, bordering the Atlantic Ocean on its southeast side, it is a region of islands and marshes in the coastal plain. This area is made up of mostly sedimentary rocks. Behind that is the upcountry, the rolling Piedmont Plateau made up of metamorphic rocks, while the northeast corner of the state, covering only about 2% of the state’s area, rises abruptly into the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Appalachians, adjoining noted gem areas in both Georgia and North Carolina.

South Carolina’s mining activities focus on construction materials, with crushed stone (granite and limestone), clay, sand, and gravel as the principal products.

Gold has been found in South Carolina. The Carolinas was the site of the first gold rush in the U.S. and Charlotte was the site of the second U.S. Mint because that’s where the gold was. The Haile Gold Mine, first discovered in 1827, has been mined and re-mined for nearly 200 years. It is located in Kershaw, South Carolina and it is the largest gold mine on the East Coast. OceanaGold acquired the operation in late 2015 and commercial production commenced in October 2017. There have been other commercial gold mines throughout the years. The city of McCormick is built over a gold mine. The gold mining, prospecting and panning areas are in the northwest quadrant of South Carolina.

Other rocks and minerals found in the pegmatites and metamorphic rocks exposed at the surface in the northwestern part of South Carolina include beryl (aquamarine, emerald, yellow beryl), corundum (sapphire), diamond, garnet, sillimanite, topaz, tourmaline and zircon.

Amethyst was named the official state gemstone in 1969 and is also found in the northwestern region. You can dig for it, as well as milky quartz, smoky quartz, beryl, garnet and epidote, at the Pay for Dig Diamond Hill Mine in Abbeville County.

Before venturing out-do some research on where and what you can collect. Remember you must have permission to collect on private property.

See my page on Rockhounding Rules for general information on the rules of collecting rocks on various lands.