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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals and minerals 1978-79
Year 1978-79, Volume 1 (1978-1979)

Meisinger, A. C.
Diatomite,   pp. 313-315 ff. PDF (281.1 KB)

Page 313

Domestic production(sales) Total valueof sales 
By A. C. Meisinger1 
 The U.S. diatomite industry achieved a record output of processed diatomite
in 1979 that totaled 717,000 tons in quantity and $90.3 million in value.
This compares with production of 651,000 tons valued at $72.4 million in
1978. Production came from four Western States. California operations accounted
for 59% of the U.S. total quantity sold and used in 1979 and 58% in 1978.
 The primary domestic use of diatomite was as a filter aid material (accounting
for 65% of U.S. consumption in 1979 and 63% 
in 1978). Other uses, in order of quantity sold and used, were for fillers,
absorbents, and insulation. 
 Continuing cost increases for fuel, transportation, labor, and packaging
materials increased the average 1979 unit price for processed diatomite by
13% over that of 
 U.S. diatomite exports totaled 170,000 
tons in 1979, compared to 153,000 tons in 
1978. Diatomite imports increased from 200 
tons in 1978 to 528 tons in 1979. 
 U.S. production of diatomite (in terms of quantity processed) increased
for the fifth straight year and totaled a record 717,000 tons in 1979, compared
with the previous record production of 664,000 tons in 1974 and with 651,000
tons in 1978. Total value of 1979 sales was $90.3 million, or nearly $18
million above the 1978 record sales value of $72.4 million. 
 U.S. output of diatomite in 1979 come from 13 mining operations in 4 Western
States: California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington; and this output was processed
in 10 plants. California diatomite operations accounted for 59% of the total
quantity sold and used, compared with 58% in 
 Principal producers in 1979 were JohnsManville Corp., with operations at
Lompoc, Calif.; Grefco, Inc. (Dicalite Div.) at Lompoc, Calif. and Mina (Basalt),
Nev.; Eagle-Picher 
Industries, Inc. (Minerals Div.) at Sparks and Lovelock, Nev.; and Witco
Chemical Corp. (Inorganic Specialties Div.) at Quincy, Wash. Production during
the year also came from operations of Airox Earth Resources, Inc., and Excel-Mineral
Co. in California; Cyprus Industrial Minerals Co. of Cyprus Mines Corp. in
Nevada; and Oil-Dri West Production Co. in Oregon.. 
 Pilot plant studies that began in 1978 to develop commercial uses for diatomite
were continued by the American Exploration and Management Company on samples
from a deposit in Rio Arriba County, N. Mex. 
 The Christmas Valley, (Lake County), Oreg., diatomite operations of the
American Fossil Co., Inc., were acquired by Oil-Dri Corp. of America in 1978,
and Cyprus Mines Corp. (a producer of diatomite in Nevada) became part of
Standard Oil Co. of Indiana in late 1979. 
Table 1.—Diatomite sold or used by producers in the United States
(Thousand short tons and thousand dollars) 
 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 
 573 631 648 651 717 
 45,812 54,981 63,870 72,429 90,323 

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