T. Lane Carter studied at Tulane University of Louisiana, New Orleans, obtaining the degree Bachelor of Engineering in 1896. After working for a while as a railway engineer in the United States, he came to the Witwatersrand that same year to work in mining. He joined the Rand Rifles during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) and was awarded the Queen's South African Medal. Immediately after the war he worked as a "surveyor" [mine evaluator] at Crown Deep, and in January 1905 became manager of the French Rand Gold Mining Company at Luipaardsvlei, Krugersdorp. He was a member of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, and an associate of the (British) Institution of Mining and Metallurgy. In 1909 he returned to Louisiana, where he wrote Out of Africa; a book of short stories (1911). Most of the stories were set in South Africa.
Carter became an associate of the Chemical and Metallurgical Society of South Africa in 1897 and a member in 1898, served on its council from 1902 (when it was renamed the Chemical, Metallurgical and Mining Society of South Africa), and was elected joint vice-president for 1907/8 and 1908/9. After his return to the United States he served as a corresponding member of council until his death in 1912. On 15 October 1898 he read his first paper before the society, on "A zinc process for precipitating gold from weak solutions". It was published in the Proceedings (Vol. 2). After the war, in September 1902, his "Notes on valuing a gold mine" (Proceedings, Vol. 3) was the first paper on mine evaluation to be read before the society, pointing out the importance of proper sampling methods and ore evaluation. In September 1904, with D.V. Burnett* as co-author, he delivered notes on the classification of mill pulp into coarse sand, sand, slimes, and concentrates. These notes were published in the society's Journal (Vol. 4, pp. 119-125). Soon thereafter he read a paper on "Copper prospects" (Journal, 1904/5, Vol. 5). In 1905 he contributed a section on metallurgy to A guide to the Transvaal (pp. 196-217), compiled by H.T.M. Bell and C.A. Lane and published by the Johannesburg branch of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science as a souvenier of the visit of the British Association that year.
Carter's interests included diamonds and diamond mining, for he contributed three articles to the Engineering and Mining Journal (New York) during 1903-1904 titled "The diamond district of the Vaal River", "Kimberley notes", and "The Premier Diamond Mine". He also published two articles on mining in Nicaragua, one in the Bulletin of the American Institute of Mining Engineers (1910) and one in the Engineering and Mining Journal (1910).
He became a member of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science, probably in 1905, and the next year read a paper on "The negro in America" at the Association's meeting in Kimberley. He was still a member in 1910, when he was living in Hammond, Louisiana. He was also a member of the Transvaal Philosophical Society for the Advancement of Science, Art and Literature, which flourished briefly and rather weakly in Johannesburg from 1898 to about 1903.