Wartime Mica Prospecting in Moidart

by Ken Bowker

Mica was a critical insulating material during the Second World War, particularly for military radio and radar manufacturing. Everyone's electric iron needed it as well.

Most of Britain's mica came from India by sea, and the threat to supplies from the German navy was ever-present, so the British Geological Survey was tasked with identifying and developing "economically valuable deposits" within Britain.

The Highland and Easter Ross were known areas of deposition and an expedition set out to identify them; Moidart has two mines, both near Dalilea, and one very promising vein, but that was 2000 feet above Loch Eilt and in those days (as now) fairly inaccessible except by pack-horse.

Wartime Pamphlet 34, Commercial Mica in Scotland, was published in May 1943 by the British Geological Survey, and is nowadays widely-available.

A comprehensive overview of the whole process, with photogrpahs, is available on the British Geological Suevey website at http://earthwise.bgs.ac.uk/index.php/Mica_quarrying_and_processing_in_Scotland_during_the_Second_World_War .

Click here for a .pdf version of the Wartime Pamphlet 34, which will open in a new window.