With around 8 million metric tons mined and $1 billion in annual economic impact, kaolin is one of Georgia’s largest natural resources and industries. In fact, Georgia is the leading clay-producing state in the nation. Primary applications of kaolin include paper-coating (glossy magazine pages, for instance), paint pigments, ceramics, and pharmaceuticals, especially antacids such as Kaopectate and Mylanta.
The Kaolin Belt in Georgia runs roughly parallel to the Fall Line and is a vital economic force in at least 13 counties.
Historically, the industry had a bad reputation for its land rights and reclamation practices, but improvements in recent decades have (hopefully) lead to better stewardship. For an overview of the industry’s controversial earlier days, read Charles Seabrooke’s Red Clay, Pink Cadillacs and White Gold: The Kaolin Chalk Wars. The book was not well-received by the industry, though locals agree that much of it is solidly documented and reported. I’m not endorsing nor attacking the industry as it’s very important to the economy, but let’s hope it has improved. It’s not a liberal or conservative view to treat people right, to not steal their land, and to leave the land better than you found it.