Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals and minerals 1978-79
Year 1978-79, Volume 1 (1978-1979)
Lynd, Langtry E.
Zirconium and hafnium, pp. 1021-1031 ff. PDF (1.3 MB)
1022 MINERALS YEARBOOK, 1978-79 regulations regarding the storage of lowlevel-radiation sludge at the TWCA plant and provides for a study by an independent research organization to determine if there is any danger from this material at its present location. The results of the study are to be reported to the 1981 session of the legislature. In the meantime, the company has modified its chlorination process to produce a more concentrated radioactive residue that could be shipped to the Hanford, Wash., disposal site. DOMESTIC PRODUCTION E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Humphreys Mining Co., and Titanium Enterprises, Inc., were the only producers of zircon mineral concentrate in the United States in 1978-79. Zircon was recovered as a coproduct of titanium mineral concentrates from mineral sands at the dredging and milling facilities owned and operated by Du Pont at Starke and Highland, Fla.; operated by Humphreys Mining Co. for Du Pont, at Boulougne, Fla., and Folkston, Ga.; and owned and operated by Titanium Enterprises at Green Cove Springs, Fla. Production data were withheld from publication to avoid disclosing company proprietary data. The combined zircon capacity ot these three plants was estimated to be 135,000 tons per year. The Humphreys Mining Co. operation at Boulougne, Fla., was shut down in November 1979 because of depleted reserves. Dredging and wet milling at the Titanium Enterprises facility were suspended in June 1978; the dry mill, however, continued in operation to produce zircon and monazite from stockpile tailings. In April 1980, Associated Minerals Consolidated Ltd. (AMC) announced it had exercised its option to purchase the Titanium Enterprises property at a price of $11.7 million. AMC is a subsidiary of Consolidated Gold Fields Australia Ltd. (CGFA), and expects to produce at Green Cove Springs, over the next 16 years, 25,000 tons per year of zircon, 25,000 tons per year of rutile, and 50,000 tons per year of ilmenite, as well as smaller quantities of leucoxene, staurolite, and monazite.~ Statistical data on production of zirconium sponge, ingot, and scrap, and on hafnium sponge and oxide are also withheld to avoid disclosing company proprietary data. Zirconium sponge production in 1978 and 1979, estimated from published information, was about 4.8 million pounds and 4.0 million pounds, respectively. U.S. annual production capacity in those years was about 8 million pounds. Approximately 3,165 tons of alloys containing from 3% to 70% zirconium was produced in 1978, and 3,132 tons in 1979. Four firms produced 39,993 tons of milled (ground) zircon in 1978, and 41,567 tons in 1979 from domestic and imported concentrates, compared with the reported 1977 production of 41,820 tons. Six companies, excluding those that produce metal, produced 8,605 tons of zirconium oxide in 1978, and 11,130 tons in 1979, compared with 7,400 tons in 1977. Hafnium crystal bar production was estimated at 40 tons and 50 tons in 1978 and 1979, respectively, substantially above the estimated 35 tons produced in 1977. TWCA was the only domestic commercial producer of zirconium and hafnium sponge in 1978 and 1979. Because of reduced demand for zirconium resulting from the slowdown in nuclear powerplant construction, TWCA was operating at about 50% of capacity in late 1979, and had laid off about 13% of its work force during the last 2 years. However, in June 1978 Westinghouse Electric Corp. announced that its recently formed subsidiary, Western Zirconium Co., would build a $50 million zirconium metal plant near Ogden, Utah.~ Construction was completed in 1979, with commercial production scheduled to begin early in 1980. The plant reportedly has an annual production capacity of 3 to 4 million pounds of zirconium sponge metal6, bringing total U.S. capacity to 11 to 12 million pounds per year. In December 1978, NL Industries, Inc., announced the sale of its Taylor Refractories Division, a producer of zirconiumbearing refractories, to Didier Werke of Wiesbaden, Federal Republic of Germany. NL also announced, in October 1979, the sale of its Niagara Falls, N.Y., plant, which produces zirconium and titanate products for the foundry, refractory, and ceramic industries, to the Lead Industries Group, Ltd., of the United Kingdom. These facilities continued in operation as Didier-Taylor Refractories Corp. and TAM Ceramics, Inc. The Norton Co. approved plans to build a $19.1 million addition to its zirconiaalumina material manufacturing plant in Huntsville, Ala., to expand production of abrasive grain for both coated abrasives and grinding wheels. Production at the new facilities was scheduled to begin in late 1980.
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