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Slate is a mined rock from quarries all over the world. One of the most important things about slate is it is not consistent in color or hardness even within the quarry from which it is mined. Good slate gets its characteristics of hardness, density and coloring from deep in the vein of slate. This happens by being compressed by immense pressure from the hundreds of feet of rock that lay on top of it for millions of years. When a quarry begins operation and as they expand, millions of tons of slate from the upper level of the vein must be removed. While it is still slate, it is less dense and hasn’t been hardened like the slate in the deeper parts of the quarry. This slate is sold to big box stores and discount outlets as lower quality, lower priced slate tile because the need for quantity is much greater than the desire for quality.