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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals, minerals, and fuels 1972
Year 1972, Volume 1 (1972)

Wells, J. Robert
Talc, soapstone and pyrophyllite,   pp. 1191-1199 ff. PDF (988.5 KB)


Page 1191

Table 1.—Salient talc, soapstone, and pyrophyllite statistics (Thousand
short tons and thousand dollars) 
1968 
1969 
1970 
1971 
1972 
United States: 
Mine production                     Value                           
Sold by producers                  Value                                
Exports~                         
Value                              
Imports for consumption  Value                                
Apparent consumption  
World: Production                      
958 
6,656 
886 
22,968 
66 
3,521 
24 
973 
844 
4,796 
1,029 
7,508 
985 
26,294 
69 
3,713 
20 
749 
936 
5,162 
1,028 
7,773 
948 
25,980 
105 
5,739 
30 
1,294 
873 
5,316 
1,037 
7,634 
979 
26,936 
136 
4,844 
17 
745 
860 
5,207 
1,107 
7,835 
1,084 
33,709 
171 
5,791 
29 
1,669 
942 
5,252 
' Excludes powders—talcum (in package), face, and 
compact. 
  1191Talc, Soapstone, and Pyrophyllite 
By J. Robert Wells' 
 Total U.S. production of talc, soapstone, and pyrophyllite (known collectively
as the talc-group minerals) was greater in 1972 than in any previous year,
almost half again as much as a decade ago in regard to both tonnage and total
value. 
 American Talc Co., Inc., previously operating only in Alabama, extended
its talc mining to Montana with the acquisition in 1972 of the Willow creek
mine in Madis~n County. Johns-Manville Corp. (headquarters now in Denver,
Cob.) acquired the California properties of L. Granthain Corp. at midyear.
Grantham, operating the Warm Springs mine and grinding facilities in the
southwestern part of Death Valley, Inyo County, was for many years one of
the largest producers of high-quality talc in the United States. 
 Talcum powder, the familiar and best known form in which talc is used, was
unjustly stigmatized in the August 1972 deaths of a number of infants in
FTance. After inves~igation, it was determined that the tragedy was the result
of an excessive quantity of a bactericide that had been added to the powder.
 Some industrial talc producers and users were experiencing an increasingly
difficult situation in 1972 because of the close mmcralogical relationship
between talc and a group of other minerals, some of which 
may become carcinogenic under conditions involving long-continued inhalation.
No authoritative distinction has ever been drawn between talc and ~remo1ite,
a substantial proportion of which is known to be present in some grades of
fibrous talc. That ambiguity and a tendency to regard tremolite as a form
of asbestos, in combination with growing. emphasis on environmental and health
considerations, began to plant doubts concerning industrial talc's hitherto
unquestioned classification as an essentially harmless and. unrestrictedly
usable raw material. 
 Legislation and Government Programs.— The Defense Materials Inventories
prepared by General Services Administration (GSA) showed that Government
holdings as of December 31, 1972, included 1,180 short tons of talc (steatite,
block or lump), with a market value of $383,500, and 3,900 short tons of
talc (steatite, ground) valued at $21;400. Of the block or lump steatite,
980 short tons was listed as excess inventory, as was also the entire quantity
of ground material. During calendar 1972, 24 tons of block material, valued
at $7,800, was sold from stockpile inventory, but none of the ground talc
was disposed of. 
 1 Physical scientist, Division of Nonmetallic Minerals. 


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