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Minerals in the UK 

The UK has an amazing diversity of minerals, which means that a geological map is as fascinating as it is multi-coloured. Our rocks were formed at different times and in very different environments. In the mountainous regions of Scotland, Wales and the North of England, you do not need to dig to find it because rock is exposed at the surface. But further south, the geology is covered by clay and other soils that have been deposited by glaciers. So the hard rock limestone quarries that are characteristic of the north and west end to give way to sand and gravel quarries once you are south of a line drawn between The Wash and Portland Bill. Further popular geological information is available from British Geological Survey.

Every area of the country has a mineral story to tell. The cement industry, for example, grew up in the chalk lands beside the Thames but is today mainly focused on limestone in the north. Silica sand is said to have been discovered through rabbits digging burrows in Cheshire – and it’s still there! Cornwall is rich in china clay, while you are more likely to find ball clay in Devon and Dorset. It doesn’t matter where you look in the UK – from East Anglia to West Wales and from the South Coast to the northern tip of Scotland – every area has minerals that work for us. Even the seabed around our shores contributes to our mineral needs as an alternative source of sand and gravel. More information on marine aggregates is available from the British Marine Aggregate Producers Association.

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We use around 200 million tonnes of aggregates every year, most of it for building
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