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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)

Page 1022

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
 E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Humphreys Mining Co., and Titanium
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,
 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 

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