Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook 1990
Year 1990, Volume 2 (1990)
White, Doss H., Jr.; Dean, Lewis S.
Alabama, pp. -52 ff. PDF (1.5 MB)
44 ALABAMA—1990 The Bulk Materials plant was equipped with two ship unloaders with a combined capacity of 3,000 short tons per hour. Two parallel conveyor lines were used to move cargo from ship to storage, barge, or railcar. Open and covered storage for 1.2 million short tons of bulk commodities was available. The McDuffie Coal Terminal, the largest coal handling facility on the U.S. Gulf Coast and the second largest in the Nation, handled 8.3 million short tons of coal. The terminal was equipped with two, 45-foot deep shiploading berths; three stacker-reclaimers; three barge unloaders; and two railcar dumps served by separate ioop track systems. Ground storage was available for two million short tons of coal.5 The Alabama State Docks maintained 10 inland ports on the State's river system. Coal, logs, and gravel were the three leading cargos shipped through the inland ports.6 Mineral commodities imported or exported by private industry at State docks leased property included cementclinker, fly ash, gravel, gypsum, iron ore, petroleum, sand, and shell.7 The trend in the world's paper industry to convert from the acid to the alkaline-train process was a boon to those firms holding reserves of high-purity calcium carbonate. The alkaline-train process uses less wood pulp and more filler, calcium carbonate, and produces a paper with longer lasting qualities. The Sylacauga marble belt in east-central Alabama contains high-grade calcium carbonate of sufficient purity and whiteness for paper applications. Developments in Alabama's mineral industry included the announcement of Georgia Marble Co. and the Swiss-based Pluess-Staufer forming a joint-venture company, Alabama Carbonates L. P. , to produce calcium carbonate pigment at Sylacauga. Occidental Chemical Corp. announced a $ 15 million expansion at its chlorine and caustic soda plant in Mobile, and Occidental Chemical Corp. increased caustic potash outputby 25,000 short tons per year at its Muscle Shoals facility. On the metals scene, Fairfield Works, Birmingham, began casting double-stand slabs from a single mold, the first such casting of its kind in the United States. Birmingham Steel Co. reported a loss for fiscal year 1990 because of declining steel prices, expenses associated with out-ofState projects, and the aborted merger transactions with the Harbert Co. Reynolds Aluminum Co. , Listerhill, broke ground for a $175 million casting facility at its aluminum complex near Sheffield. The company also announced plans to invest $15 million for new environmental control equipment for its Listerhill and Sheffield plants. EMPLOYMENT Alabama's total employment declined from 1.77 million in 1989 to 1.76 million in 1990. Nonfuel mining employment, however, increased from 1 1 ,600 in 1989 to 12,900 in 1990, and construction employment increased 4,200 between 1989 and 1990. Construction employment is - a measure of the demand for the State's construction mineral commodities, cement, clays, sand and gravel, and stone.8 REGULATORY ISSUES Some of Alabama's mineral producers faced the specter of higher electricity rates and possible decreased process water supply as Alabama and Florida filed suit against Georgia to stop plans for impounding water in Georgia that currently drained into Alabama waterways. Alabama and Florida officials feared that the impoundments in the Atlanta-area would decrease the amount ofwater flowing along Alabama's eastern border and through the Florida panhandle. The Federal Environmental Protection Agency reported that two Birmingham-area coke manufacturing facilities ranked among the State's top air polluters. Interstate Lead Co., Birmingham, was fined $10,700 for violating State wastewater standards by discharging untreated storm waters. A company spokesperson noted that the firm had spent several million dollars installing a state-of-the-art water treatment system and the fme was a misunderstanding between company and State officials. EXPLORATION ACTIVITIES Announced exploration activity in the State during 1990 was limited to gold. Included were the evaluation of potential drill sites in the Devils Backbone District of Tallapoosa County and a limited amount of reconnaissance exploration and trenching in the Arbacoochee District of Clebume County.9 LEGISLATION AND GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS A bill creating the Spill Response Task Force was signed into law following the 1990 legislative session (Act 90-741). The duties of the task force were to evaluate the State's readiness to respond to oil and hazardous materials spills in the State's coastal waters. Among the studies completed by the Geological Survey of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, were several relating to the State's mineral resources. These included ~ published reports on (1) high-calcium ~ limestone deposits; (2) industrial extender ~ and filler resources; (3) mineral reports ~ for Montgomery, Macon, Cherokee, and Elmore Counties; (4) geology and mineral resources of the Inner Piedmont; (5) clay resources of the Upper Cretaceous Tuscaloosa Group; and (6) assessment of nonhydrocarbon mineral resources in the exclusive economic ~ zone of offshore Alabama. One of the nine research centers maintained by the U.S. Bureau of Mines was on the University of Alabama campus at Tuscaloosa. The Tuscaloosa Research Center, established in 1936, was involved in five major areas of mineral research: (1) powder processing, (2) composite structure and properties, (3) separation science and process control, (4) process kinetics, and (5) environmental technology. Several of the projects under investigation by the U.S. Bureau of Mines scientists and engineers were in Alabama. Included were (1) the
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