Mineral Resources

The mineral resources are by far the most important group in Fayette County and they have largely determined the development of the County. The chief mineral industry is the mining of coal. Other mineral resources include the manufacture of brick and other clay products, crushed stone, sand and gravel, and natural gas.

Information Source

Abstracted from the Geology of Pennsylvania, 1999. Pittsburgh Geological Society, et al.

  1. Coal
  2. Gas Fields
  3. Clay
  4. Construction Aggregates
  5. Carbonate Rock

The main bituminous coal fields occupy much of the Appalachian Plateau Province. Ten economically significant coal beds have been exploited in this area.

Brookville Clarion Coal Complex

Brookville Clarion Coal Complex, they are strip-mined in some areas and mined underground in a few areas. They tend to be high in sulfur and ash and are difficult to clean. Reserves of mineable thickness in Fayette County may be found along Chestnut Ridge, north of Ohiopyle and on the west slope of Laurel Hill.

Lower Kittanning Coal Complex

Lower Kittanning Coal Complex, normally strip-mined throughout its extensive outcrop area and is also mined underground in many places. This complex ranks third in terms of remaining resources. Reserves of mineable thickness in Fayette County may be found along Chestnut Ridge, Indian Creek, and Laurel Hill.

Upper Freeport Coal

Upper Freeport Coal is mined extensively, both on the surface and underground. The general good quality of this seam makes the UFC the second most important bed in terms of mining and reserves. Reserves in Fayette County may be found along the Monongahela River, the slopes of Chestnut Ridge, and the entire area east of Chestnut Ridge.

Pittsburgh Coal

Pittsburgh Coal is the most important unit in Pennsylvania. In spite of extensive mining, it still represents 1/3 of the recoverable reserves over 36 inches thick and almost all of the reserves over 60 inches thick. Most of the reserves are in Washington and Greene Counties. This coal is essentially gone in Fayette County.

Pittsburgh Coal

Sewickley Coal, well developed only in southern Greene and Fayette Counties where it is up to 60 feet thick. Considered an important commercial coal in the southwest quarter of the County including the municipalities of German, Nicholson, Springhill, Georges, South Union, and North Union Townships.

Redstone Coal

Redstone Coal irregularly present in Fayette County, but rarely thick enough to mine underground and only intermittently suitable for strip-mining. Reserves may be found in: 

  • Jefferson
  • Nicholson
  • Perry
  • Southern German
  • Springfield Townships
  • Washington
  • Western Franklin

Waynesburg Coal

Waynesburg Coal, difficult to mine underground, but it is commonly mined in surface operations. It has been mined extensively in Redstone, Luzerne, Menallen, and German Townships.

Other Economically Viable Beds

Other economically viable beds in the area are the Middle Kittanning Coal, the Upper Kittanning Coal, and the Lower Freeport Coal Complex. None seem to be economically significant in Fayette County.

Coal Markets

Pennsylvania bituminous coal is mined for four markets: electric power generation, metallurgical coke, industrial use, and foreign export. In 1986, the percentages were 72, 11, 7, and 10 respectively. The amount of coal used for electric power has increased steadily for many years, while the production for coke and export has declined. 

The remaining recoverable identified bituminous coal resources in Fayette County as of January 1984 are 2.1 billion tons over 28 inches; and 1.1 billion tons over 36 inches; and 75 million tons of strippable material (based on 120 feet of maximum cover less 20% mining loss).