CLAY COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – One unique industry is making a large impact in rural Clay County. Out on Highway 47, you will find the largest limestone operation in the state.
Mike Juckes is a second generation limestone miner. For more than 30 years his family has mined the Clay County land, creating the successful business, Lime Co.
“My parents were from Canada and my father was an equipment salesman for the city of Edmonton, Alberta. He was on his way to an equipment auction in Florida. He stopped here to visit a friend and saw there was a need for lime crop. There used to be one years ago and trucks were lined up to get lime. He thought, ‘well look at that, there’s an opportunity to be in the business,” Juckes said.
Lime Co. only employs about 10 people, plus other truck drivers, but it is a large operation. The company is actively mining 65 acres, land that is leased from property owners. 130 tons of lime is ready to sell in one hour.
“The limestone in this area is an outcropping and very close to the surface. We have to remove anywhere from six inches to three feet of dirt and we store that topsoil. Then we mine the limestone and as we get through it we replace that topsoil and seed it. We rip it up with big bulldozers and then we haul it, crush it and screen it to a certain spec size and then we store it in our storage buildings,” Juckes said.
14,000 tons fit in each shed, selling at a flat rate of 10 dollars a ton. Lime Co. sells over 200,000 tons a year, mostly to farmers for agriculture purposes, or industries like the Choctaw County power plant.
“The biggest use for limestone is acid neutralization, whether it’s agriculture use in the soil or industrial environmental issues. The main component of limestone is calcium carbonate. So think of it as an anti-acid,” Juckes said.
They say limestone is good for a variety of things. Some claim it keeps away snakes and fleas, others say its calcium makes hair and nails strong.
Lime Co. says its busiest seasons are spring and fall, before and after summer crops. For more information call 662-456-4226.
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