Official Symbols and Emblems of Alabama
Hematite, an oxide of iron (Fe2O3), is also known as "red iron ore" and in 1967 was designated as the State Mineral by the Alabama Legislature. Hematite was mined for many years in the Valley and Ridge area of central and northeastern Alabama. The mining of hematite was once the state's most developed nonfuel mineral industry, and the occurrence of hematite with nearby deposits of coal (a fossil fuel) and limestone (used as flux) led to the development of Birmingham as an industrial center. Iron ore mining in the state ceased in 1975 primarily owing to the availability of inexpensive higher grade imported ores. Red iron ore (from the Red Mountain Formation) has been mined in Bibb, Blount, De Kalb, Cherokee, Etowah, Jefferson, St. Clair, and Tuscaloosa Counties. Hematite occurs along the entire length of Red Mountain which passes through these counties. From about l840 to 1975, approximately 375 million tons of iron ore were mined in Alabama, principally from the Birmingham red-ore district. In 1904 Birmingham iron ore was used in casting the statue of Vulcan, which stands atop Red Mountain as the largest cast-iron structure ever made.
In 1967 the state legislature approved Act no. 503 adopting red iron ore, with the scientific name of hematite as the state mineral.
Act 67-503, Acts of Alabama, September 7, 1967.
Geological Survey of Alabama. The Geological Survey of Alabama has many maps and publications describing mineral resources in Alabama. Contact the publication office at 420 Hackberry Lane, P.O. Box 869999, Tuscaloosa, AL 35486-9780.
Updated: January 14, 2010