Ceramic test data for more than 200 deposits of clays and shales in Alberta resulted largely from early investigations of the Federal Department of Mines (1912-15, 1932) supplemented by more recent work of Alberta Research (1951-present). These data indicate the bulk of the province's clays and shales to be of the low-grade, low alumina variety suitable for low-value structural ware at best. Intermediate grades such as stoneware clay and fireclay are indicated in a few deposits. High-grade days such as kaolin and ball clay are unknown.
The clays and shales are found in a variety of geologic types of deposits in the Cretaceous and Tertiary bedrock strata of the Plains and in the thick Mesozoic strata of the Rocky Mountains and Foothills, and as well, in the surficial deposits covering extensive portions of the province. Generally, the better grades and best quality of clays are found in the nonmarine bedrock deposits. Low-grade "brick" clays of fair to good quality are present in some surficial deposits. The marine shales mostly have little potential for ceramic use.
Alberta's ceramics (clay products) industry, since its beginning in 1893, has had more than 150 plants operating at various times in numerous localities across the province. Few of these survived; those that did evolved into modern and efficient plants, and the industry now is consolidated in two main areas of the province, Medicine Hat-Redcliff and Edmonton. Production in 1973 was valued at $4.6 million.
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