Sporting the longest coastline in the contiguous United States, the white sand beaches of Florida are internationally famous among tourists. However, the beautiful beach sand is too well-sorted and finely grained to be of use in commercial applications so on the beach it must remain.
Historically, Florida has had a tremendous rate of development. Florida’s resident population has soared to more than 20 million people. Additionally, over 97 million visitors flock to Florida each year. The infrastructure demands these larger populations require has created a very active aggregate industry. In order to meet the demands for construction sand to build roads, bridges and buildings, a source of construction grade sand was necessary.
Along a relatively narrow, north-south zone along the center of Florida’s peninsula lies deposits of pure silica sand with the variety of grain sizes, including coarse size fractions, that are so rare in the rest of the state. This geological location was to become Central Florida’s Sand Mining District.
Small sand mines began operation in the 1940’s, but large-scale sand mining did not take place until the 1960’s when I-4 was constructed. With the completed highway, a new corridor was created for the transportation of materials from the mine as well as encourage the development along its length. The demand for significant amounts of high-quality construction sand drove the industry to develop more large-scale sand mines. Additionally, the construction of Walt Disney World and related projects in the 1960’s continued to fuel the demand for construction sand. The demand for construction projects and infrastructure development continues to increase as the population, both resident and visitor, increases.