Asbestos was first mined in Vermont in 1899 on Belvidere Mountain. Chrysotile deposits of ultramafic rock were quarried in the Mt. Belvidere mines located in Eden and Lowell, Vermont.
How asbestos is mined :
Asbestos is mined by the open pit method in most countries where the top layers of the sediment are removed and the minerals taken out. Layer after layer of rock will be blasted away until the asbestos is exposed and then harvested with machinery. Asbestos comes in different forms and is a waxy almost greasy mineral that is relatively soft. It is very brittle and easily fractures into many pieces that are stringy.
At the heart of the current controversy is the Mine Jeffrey, the world’s largest asbestos mine and the last of several exhausted asbestos pits clustered in Quebec’s Eastern Township area. From this region, for more than a century, has come almost 90 percent of the world’s commercial asbestos.
According to the United States Geological Survey statistics, asbestos production is led by Russia, which in the year 2000 alone mined 752,000 tons of asbestos. China was next with a little under half that total with Canada at 320,000 tons. Brazil came in fourth in terms of asbestos tonnage with 209,000 and Kazakhstan fifth at 179,000 tons. After Zimbabwe’s 152,000 tons asbestos production drops off significantly with countries, such as Greece, India, South Africa, and the United States mining less than 32,000 tons.
Most asbestos mines have been closed down. But wherever asbestos was extracted from the earth or processed in nearby plants, the fibers remain in dust, in the soil, blown by the wind, posing a hazard to local residents. All those sites need to be cleaned up and the asbestos safely disposed of.