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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook 1990
Year 1990, Volume 2 (1990)

White, Doss H., Jr.; Johnston, John; Marsalis, W. E.
Louisiana,   pp. [224]-233 PDF (1.4 MB)


Page 226

226  LOUISIANA—19cuntil the dredgers could return to district court
and prove the validity of their leases. Industry attorneys filed for a rehearing
on the 4th Circuit Court ruling. Later in the year, an agreement was reached
between the dredging companies, the State, and the environmentalists that
significantly raised royalties on dredged shell. Previous leases required
dredging firms to pay $ 1.27 per cubic yard for Pontchartrain shell and $0.91
per cubic yard for shell dredged from coastal waters. Under the new terms,
the State was to receive a minimum royalty of one-eighth of the selling price
of the shell. This equated to $ 1 1 per cubic yard for lake shells and $7
per cubic yard from shells dredged from gulf coastal waters. 
 Within a few days of the new royalty agreement, the Department of Environmental
Quality (DEQ) ruled that the water quality in Lake Pontchartrain was excessively
degraded by the shell removal, and the Governor permanently terminated dredging
in the lake. Coastal dredging was unaffected. 
 Following the Governor's action, a resolution was introduced into the Louisiana
House of Representatives suspending the law under which the DEQ and the Governor
terminated dredging. The resolution was later withdrawn. 
 The ban on Lake Pontchartrain dredging increased the demand for offshore
(Gulf of Mexico) shell and delayed work on a $17.5 million project to relocate
a portion ofU.S. Highway 90. In June, the dwindling shell supplies, which
sold for $12.50 per cubic yard, were partially replaced with limestone shipped
to Louisiana from other States. The limestone was selling for $ 19.50 per
cubic yard.4 
 Road construction bid specifications had to be amended in June to allow
contractors to estimate the higher cost of shell from Gulf of Mexico reefs.
Reef shell dredgers had a backlog of orders for the Gulf shells. 
 The termination of Lake Pontchartrain dredging came at a time when synthetic
aggregate was gaining acceptance for many applications for which shell was
used. Synthetic aggregate, fabricated by 
one firm from hydrofluoric gypsum, was 40 % cheaper than shell dredged under
the original royalty system. The termination of shell dredging in Lake Pontchartrain
was expected to create ~ new markets for synthetic aggregate. 
 In other developments, Freeport-McMoRan Inc. continued plans to develop
its sulfur discovery on its Main Pass lease about 17 miles east of Venice,
LA. At yearend, McDermott International Inc. had completed ~ the underwater
framework for the first drilling platform at its Morgan City facility. The
$804 million project will include a 1. 1-mile-long sulfur mining complex
of six interconnected platforms costing $554 million and four additional
platforms for oil and production costing $250 million. The Frasch process
mining operation will tap 67 million tons of sulfur occurring in the caprock
of a salt dome 1 ,200 feet beneath the floor of the Gulfof Mexico in approximately
200 feet of water. Sulfur production is scheduled to begin in 1992. 
 The Freeport-McMoRan project is not the largest, dollar-wise, scheduled
for offshore Louisiana waters. Shell Oil Co. will invest approximately $
1 .3 billion in its auger tension leg platform to be installed at a record
depth of 2,860 feet of water more than 200 miles south of New Orleans. The
platform is scheduled for installation in 1993.~ 
 Work was underway on a new wet-process phosphoric acid purification plant
at Geismar. Rhone-Poulenc is the owner of the facility. 
 A study by Louisiana Tech University's Business Research Division found
that mining income in Louisiana was up 11.3% to $2.3 billion. The national
mining growth rate was 12. 8 % 6 
REGULATORY ISSUES 
 Several Louisiana firms that processed mineral commodities used deep-well
injection to dispose of waste materials. The Resources Conversion and Recovery
Act banned deep-well injection unless alternative disposal methods were unavailable.
Ten firms . were seeking exemption from the act.7 
 Despite the protests of certain environmental groups, the State Department
of Natural Resources' Office of Conservation granted nine permits to the
Texas Brine Corp. to drill brine solution mining wells into the body of the
Starks Salt Dome. A cavity would be developed for the storage of light hydrocarbons.
Opponents feared the contamination of the Chicot Aquifer that supplies drinking
water for southwest Louisiana and southeastern Texas. Concerns were also
voiced over the earthquake potential of the area and the effects of an earth
tremor on hydrocarbons stored in a dome cavity.8 
LEGISLATION AND 
GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS 
 The Louisiana Geological Survey (LGS) continued or completed work on several
studies on the State's mineral resources. As part of a cooperative central
gulf coast gas atlas project, work was underway on a gas atlas of Louisiana
that was scheduled to be completed by the end of 1991 and published by the
Texas Bureau of Economic Geology during 1992. A sand and gravel resource
study was ongoing in association with the Louisiana Transportation Research
Institute and the Louisiana State . University Department of Civil Engineering.
An analysis of mineral production statistics in Louisiana using historical
severance tax data was underway; parish (county) records were available on
severance tax collection by mineral back to the 1930's, and, because the
severance tax rates are known, mineral production by mineral and by parish
could be calculated. A study on the location and uses of Louisiana salt domes
was also underway. The LOS was continuing an investigation of mineral resources
in the Gulf of Mexico; an investigation showing that Ship Shoal could be
an economic source of sand for Louisiana's future was completed in cooperation
with the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS). The ongoing National Coal
Resource Data System (lignite) program, a cooperative 


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