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Issue 2, Spring 2002


A Brief Look at
Chinese Roofing Slate

from John Xue

Slate has been identified and developed in some provinces in China:

1. Beijing: Men Tou Gou district, and Fang Shan district
2. Hebei Province: Man Cheng, Yi Xian, and Xu Shui areas in Bao Ding
3. Shaanxi Province: Zhen Ba and Ziyang in An Kang
4. Hubei Province: Zhu Xi and Zhu Shan area in the northwest of the Province
5. Shanxi Province: Wu Tai, Ding Xiang, Zuo Quan, Li Cheng, Ping Shun areas
6. Sichuan Province: Wan Yuan, Cheng Kou, Wu Xi, Ping Wu
7. Jiangxi Province: South part of the province
8. Zhejiang Province: An Ji, Xiao Xian

and also in Hunan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi provinces.

The color ranges from black to red, yellow, green, grey, blue, purple, etc. Most of the slate is used for decoration or "culture stone" as the local customers call them. Here are some of the general picture of the areas.

A Brief Look at Chinese Roofing Slate

Illustration above from the Slate Roof Bible, 3rd Edition


1. Beijing:

Slate from Men Tou Gou has been used for roofing for over 500 years. Most of the present production, about 80%, is exported for flooring, walls, roofing etc. The color varies: black, black grey, purple, green, jade green etc.

The green slate from Fang Shan is very popular. It is used for billiards table.

2. Shaanxi:

The slate vein runs for over 200 km eastwest with 50 km wide. The most of the slate was formed in the age from Ordovician to Cambrian periods. In this area, they have the beautiful, high quality black slate and 50% of national production capacity. People from Germany, France, Belgium, UK, Spain, as well as US have come to visit the area for sourcing, purchasing, investment etc.

3. Hubei:

Zhu Xi and Zhu Shan area is supposed to have the largest reserve of slate from Cambrian, Ordovician and Silurian periods. The color includes black, grey, bean green and green. But the overburden is large with average about 50 meters.

Although slate has been used for 500 years in China, yet as an industry it started about 20 years ago. The story goes like this: in early eighties when China initiated its open-door policy, one former Minister from Urban Construction Ministry saw the expensive "stone" being used on top of roofs when he was visiting the States. So when he came back, he assigned his associates to find the same stone to export. One of the first places identified is Ziyang in Shaanxi province.

However, it was not until the middle of nineties of last century that China started to realize that some slate was fading and some was not, and also there are other issues like water absorption and acid resistance for slate. I think that is the reason you found both good slate and poor quality slate in the same crates. With the introduction of new processing machines from Europe, as well as the quality control concept, China was able to produce good quality slate though with disappointing quantity.

A Brief Look at Chinese Roofing Slate

China slate quarry (above). Chinese green slate (below).

A Brief Look at Chinese Roofing Slate

Illustrations above from the Slate Roof Bible, 3rd Edition



Read more about Chinese Slate in the Slate Roof Bible, 3rd edition!

Source List of new roofing slate, including Chinese.

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