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)
324 MINERALS YEARBOOK, 1978-79 The average amount of yearly silver production and its value for the 1970-79 period were 3,372,191 troy ounces and $13.9 million, respectively. In 1977, production and value were 100% and 112% of the average, respectively; and in 1978, the respective percentages were 86% and 113%. The 1979 percentages were 98% and 264% of the 10year average. NONMETALS Production and market demand for Montana nonmetal minerals continued to be steady. The possible development of a potash refining plant and mine complex in northeastern Montana generated much interest. PPG Industries, Inc. and Farmers Potash Co., a Burlington Northern Inc. and Farmers Union Central Exchange (Cenex) joint venture, was considering the area for potash development. The extraction process under consideration would employ solution mining to recover potash from depths to 9,000 feet. American Colloid Co.'s new bentonite processing plant went onstream at Malta in Phillips County. However, proposed plant expansion to 1 million short tons per year was delayed because of market conditions. Lovell Clay Products of Billings purchased Lewistown Clay, Inc. The new owners planned to improve operations over a 5-year period and anticipated an eventual increase in annual capacity from 3 million to 10.5 million units. Montana Barite Co. continued to mine and process barite for a very strong market. Talc production continued at a relatively high rate, and production of industrial silica continued. Production of limestone, cement, vermiculite, phosphate rock, and other nonmetals was relatively strong. Barite.—The value and quantity of barite production increased, and a continued demand for the commodity was postulated. However, the availability of reserves remained questionable. Exploration and developinent had not delineated any significant minable quantity of barite. Cement.—Two plants, one at Trident and the other at Montana City, produced cement in 1978-79. Portland cement sales in 1978 were about 2% higher than the yearly average for the 1977-79 period. Sales in 1979 were 6% less than the average. The value of cement sales in 1978 was about 1% less and in 1979 was about 7% higher than the yearly average. Clays.—The State's output of clays and shales was from 16 mines in 9 counties. The material produced was used for animal feed, common brick, face brick, drill mud, fertilizer, glazing, foundry sand, portland cement, waterproofing and sealing, insulation, iron pellets, paper coating and filler, pottery, and concrete blocks. There were 11 individuals and/or companies producing clays. The size of the operations ranged from 15 short tons to about 75,000 short tons per year. American Colloid's bentonite processing plant near Malta went onstream, with bentonite mined from State and Federal lands south of Malta. The plant was the initial step of a 3-phase construction program. Begun in 1978, phase 1 consisted of construction of the processing plant, a railroad siding, a laboratory, and office facilities. Plant capacity under this phase was estimated to be 250,000 short tons per year. Phase 2 construction was planned to include another siding, grinding equipment, and storage silos; production capabilities were expected to increase to 500,000 short tons per year. The program's phase 3 would include the building of an additional processing plant, more silos, and another railroad—siding; production capacity was ultimately expected to increase to 1 million short tons annually. Because of an absence of markets, however, the expansion program was in abeyance. Lovell Clay Products, the new owners of Lewistown Clay, Inc., planned to improve its newly purchased production facilities. The company's intent was to increase annual production over a 5-year period from 3 million to 10.5 million units. Gypsum.—Crude gypsum was produced by United States Gypsum~ Co. in Fergus County for use in wallboard production. The Maronick Construction Co., Judith Basin County, also mined gypsum for use in the manufacture of cement. Exploration and development disclosed additional gypsum resources and reserves. Lime.—Anaconda, Holly Sugar Corp., and Great Western Sugar Co. produced lime for use in metallurgical processes, sewage treatment, and sugar refining. Phosphate Rock.—Phosphate rock was mined in Powell County and shipped to Canada for use in making fertilizer. The Stauffer Chemical Co., Silver Bow County, imported phosphate rock from Idaho for its elemental phosphorus plant. Sand and Gravel.—Sand and gravel produced in Montana was used primarily for construction, roadbase and coverings, con-
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