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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Area reports: domestic 1978-79
Year 1978-79, Volume 2 (1978-1979)

Krempasky, G. T.; Lawson, Don C.
Montana,   pp. 315-327 ff. PDF (1.3 MB)


Page 320

320 
MINERALS YEARBOOK, 1978-79 
west of Twin Bridges, exploration activity was at a high pitch. The U.S.
Grant Mine and Mill were leased to the Delaney brothers of Missoula, who
renovated the mill; production increases were noted. John Magnus continued
to operate his mill, processing various types of ores, including tungsten,
from Beaverhead County. Renewed interest in placer mining was noted in Lewis
and Clark, Jefferson, Meagher, Madison, and Missoula Counties. 
 Precious metals activities were of great significance; however, the impact
of price increases was also reflected in exploration and development activities
for the complex ores. Nancy Lee Mines, in Mineral County, was stockpiling
about 90 ~short tons of ore per day. It was planned that the ore would be
milled by Western Silver Development Co. Congdon and Carey and Superior Oil
continued work at the Flathead Mine in Flathead County, where an open pit
operation may become feasible. The Nellie Grartt Mine and Mill in Lewis and
Clark County was the site of major activity on gold-silver base metal ore.
Anaconda and Cominco American Inc. (Cominco) continued exploration activities,
seeking potential silver and stratabound lead-zinc deposits in Meagher County.
In Park County, gold-tungsten-arsenic resources were being investigated,
with claim staking, drilling, geophysical surveys, and other activities underway.
Stockpiling of shaft-sinking and development ore continued in the Castle
Mountains, Meagher County. In Jefferson County, the Crystal and Rumley Mines,
potential sources of silver-gold-lead ores, were in the development stage.
The Black Pine Mine in Granite County installed an optical ore sorter, and
ore grade increased by 40%. Expansion plans at Black Pine were announced
by the operating company. Development work continued at the Silver King Mine,
also in Granite County. 
 Exploration in the Stiliwater Complex, seeking platinum-palladium ore, continued
with the drilling of deeper holes by both Anaconda and Johns-Manville Sales
Corp. (Chevron Industries Inc. was in joint venture with Johns-Manville).
Anaconda received a permit from the State and began to drive an exploration
adit to secure bulk samples of the platinum-palladium horizon for metallurgical
testing. 
 Anaconda completed the first hole in a continuing deep-hole exploration
program in the Butte area. Evaluation of a largevolume underground mining
method for 
extracting low-grade copper ores in the Butte district was also continued
by the company. A search for molybdenum resources was undertaken by Cyprus
Industrial Minerals Corp. in the Pioneer Range in Beaverhead County, by Canadian
interests in the Bitterroot Mountains southwest of Darby, and by AMAX Inc.
and Molycorp Inc. in Cascade County. Also, tungsten properties in Beaverhead
County were being evaluated by Union Carbide Corp. 
 ASARCO's East Helena lead smelter was down during August 1979 because of
a shortage of smelter feed. The plant was forced to reduce its operating
week from 7 to 5 days because of a lack of concentrates. 
 Copper.—Copper was recovered from the ores of 29 mines in 13 counties
in 1979, and from 14 mines in 9 counties in 1978, compared with recovery
from 13 mines in 7 counties in 1977. Approximately 99% of the copper produced
in 1978-79 was from Anaconda's operations in Silver Bow County. Yearly average
Montana copper production for the 1970-79 period was 101,219 short tons with
an average value of $131 million. Copper production for 1977 was 85% of the
average; the value of this production was 88% of the average. In 1978, production
was 
73% of the average, and value was 75%. The 1979 production was 76% of the
average, and its value was 109%. Montana ranked fourth in its 1978-79 copper
production value, compared with that of other producing States. It supplied
about 5% of the new copper production in the United States for both years.
 Anaconda had undertaken an exploration program to determine if minerals
of economic significance continue to depth in Butte. According to company
officials, their drilling program was designed to penetrate to depths of
8,000 feet. The area that was being drilled has the potential for four to
six new underground mines. The first deep hole was completed, and several
deep-drill rigs were operating in the area east of the Berkley Pit. Planning
continued for a major block-caving operation in Butte. A new viewing stand
at the Berkley Pit was dedicated in June, 1978. It provides a closer and
somewhat more spectacular view than did previous viewing areas. The company's
smelter in Anaconda was shut down for maintenance and repair during portions
of May and June, 1978. 
 GoId.—Gold was recovered principally as a byproduct of copper
mining.
Approximately 95% of the gold produced in the State in 


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