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By EDWARD SAMPSON
The domestic asbestos industry in 1923 showed slightly better conditions than in 1922, when operations were brought almost to a complete standstill. Competition between the mines of Quebec and Rhodesia remained exceedingly keen, and as a result the prices of crude fiber continued to decrease to figures so extremely low that there was no profit in mining in the Arizona field. The prices of the shorter grades of mill fiber, on which there is little competition other than among the Canadian producers themselves, remained firm or even increased, so that those mines in this country which produce fiber that competes with short Canadian fiber were in a more favorable position than in 1922. In consequence the sales of California mill fiber were resumed, and there was noteworthy activity in the mass-fiber anthophyllité field of Georgia. The total sales of all grades of asbestos in 1923 were 227 short tons, valued at $9,626. A comparison with the figures of preceding years is given in the following table:
There was considerable activity in the Arizona field, although the dullness of the asbestos market prevented vigorous mining. The established mines were all closed, but on the Indian reservations and in the Cherry Creek district newly acquired properties were being developed.
On the San Carlos Reservation the most extensive work was on the Accident group of claims, which lie on the west side of Cienega Canyon, about halfway between the falls of Cienega Creek and Salt River. This property is owned by Robert M. Anderson, George England, and MacD. Robinson. It was located in 1921 and leased
in August, 1922. On August 6, 1923, the property was turned over to O'Neil & Jamison, who made a first payment and planned largescale mining and manufacturing operations, but the second payment was defaulted, and the property reverted to the original owners. The developments consist of half a mile of trail over difficult country to the rim of the canyon, an open cut 55 feet long, and about 200 feet of underground workings.
On the Penn group, owned by the Apache Asbestos_Co., and on the Great View group, owned by J. B. Cobb, G. P. Bartlett, and others, both of which lie a little east of the Accident group, only assessment work has been done.
The two claims at the mouth of Sawmill Creek owned by W. M. & J. E. Malone were explored during the year. A cable crossing was built over Sawmill Creek and a trail made from the I. S. Hole. No report has been received from the owners, but it is said that the deposit has been shown to be small.
On the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, lying on the north side of Salt River, the most extensive development work was done at the Horse Shoe group, owned by the San Carlos Asbestos Mining Co. (Inc.), of Lakeside, Ariz. This property is near the top of Salt River canyon, on the Jack Knighton trail, north of the Peninsula. A large open cut was made in the precipitous bluff in which the deposit lies, and when the overburden became excessive underground work was done. Unlike the practice at most other mines in the district the drifting was so done as to block out the "ore" in rectangular fashion, a practice which is to be strongly recommended even in a district where all drilling is done by hand and where there is strong inducement to follow the course o least resistance. also constructed a suspension bridge over Salt River a short distance above the Peninsula. As the mines on the north side of the river are dependent on burro transportation and as the river is fordable only during moderately low water, this bridge was of much value to the district. In the winter of 1923 the bridge collapsed, owing, it is reported, to excessive tightening of the suspension wires by a packer in cold weather. At present there is only a footbridge in its place, but when the market warrants active shipments a new bridge for pack animals will probably be constructed.
At the Snake Hill property of W. G. Shanley and others, near the bottom of Salt River canyon, about 2 miles above the I. S. Hole, an open cut was made to obtain footing, and two tunnels were driven from this face. About 250 feet of underground work had been done up to the end of 1923. Besides this work a 300-foot cable crossing was put in 40 feet above the river. This crossing permits the transfer of materials and connects with a trail leading up the I. S. Hole canyon, which the owners of the mine have much improved.
The Salt Bank property of W. G. Shanley and others was also opened in 1923. This property lies about halfway up the north side of Salt River canyon, a little upstream from the Regal mine.
At the Regal mine only assessment work was done, and at the Johns-Manville mines at "Chrysotile only assessment and necessary maintenance work.
An important development in this field was the reorganization of the Riga Asbestos Co., which acquired a large number of claims in the Cherry Creek district, some by purchase and some by reloca
tion. The company has in all 72 claims lying in three main groupsthe Triangle, on a high point on the north side of Walnut Creek just above its junction with Cherry Creek; the Buckhorn, between Wilson and Walnut creeks about 3 miles from Cherry Creek; and the Walnut, on the southeast side of Walnut Creek about 5 miles from Cherry Creek. In 1923 this company put in 4,600 man-shifts of work, and by the end of the year about 3,000 feet of underground work had been done.
The Snowflake group has been another recent development in the Cherry Creek district. This property is owned by C. W. Williams and John S. Whitley, of Young, and lies on Wilson Creek about 2 miles from Cherry Creek. A total of 500 feet of work has been done in five tunnels, the longest 120 feet long. In the winter of 1922–23 this property was under option to George Thayer, of the Apache Asbestos Co., who is reported to have shipped 12 tons of crude asbestos.
In the last year several companies have had under consideration projects for the manufacture of short-fiber asbestos products, which would depend on fiber obtained from their Arizona properties. These projects seem ill-advised. The manufacture of asbestos products is a highly specialized industry, for the most part in the hands of strong, experienced companies with well-organized selling forces, and there is keen competition between the companies. Unless the sources of supply were close to a railroad the cost of getting the raw material to the manufacturing plant would be excessive, and it is doubtful if any asbestos deposit in Arizona would warrant the erection of an expensive manufacturing plant that would be dependent on a supply of short fiber. The Arizona deposits consist essentially of high-grade material, and their value depends almost entirely on the amount of spinning fiber they contain. If, after mining for crude, a market can be found for the short fiber mined incidentally, that by-product may possibly bear the cost of treatment and transportation and yield a profit, if none of the cost of mining is charged against it. For a remote deposit the value of the short fiber should not enter to any appreciable extent into the estimated value of the property.
There is one deposit in the Arizona field where the prospect of operating successfully for short fiber alone is unusually favorable. This is the deposit covered by the Apache group of claims, owned by Shanley & Morrison. The claims are only 342 miles north of Ripley siding on the Arizona Eastern Railroad, '13 miles east of Globe. Work done here in 1923 consisted of determining the extent of the deposit by open cuts and short tunnels. The fiber is very harsh but has been found to be well adapted for use in stucco. Asbestos sand and short fiber will form the most valuable part of the output, as the crude is too harsh for spinning. This property was examined in May, 1924, when a moderate amount of fiber had been developed, and in the summer of 1924 a mill was constructed to crush and screen the product.
CALIFORNIA The Sierra Asbestos Co., whose property is near Washington, in Nevada County, Calif., and which has been the main producer in the State, did not operate in 1923 but made sales from stock mined
in 1921. The California Asbestos Mining Co., which in 1920 started development of its property on Clear Creek, 26 miles from Coalinga, in San Benito County, made its first production in 1923, although it sold no fiber. The company reports that most of its work was in development of the ground and in perfecting the process of extraction of the fiber. The Pacific Asbestos Corporation, whose property is near Copperopolis, in Calaveras County, continued surface improvements such as road grading and preparation for maintenance of workmen but has not yet started mining operations. Harris & Barrett report active prospecting on their property near Jolon, in Monterey County, 100 feet of work being done in two tunnels, and a new body of promising ground was found on the surface. In Sierra County the Drifted Snow Asbestos Co. resumed active prospecting on its property near Goodyears Bar, and in Siskiyou County Amull Dennis is prospecting a deposit near Edgewood.
One of the important features of the year in the asbestos industry was the keen interest shown in the mass-fiber anthophyllite deposits of Georgia. These deposits have two assets which if they can be fully utilized should prove valuable. The mineral is physically and chemically far more stable than chrysotile. It will stand a higher temperature without a breakdown of the fiber, and it is but little attacked by acids and alkalies, which exert a considerable effect on chrysotile. Besides the desirable qualities which are inherent in the mineral, it occurs in the form of mass fiber--that is, it makes up a large part of the body of the rock in which it is found. Under favorable conditions the rock is simply quarried and ground without any concentration of valuable mineral. However, in the past this process of treatment has limited exploitation to particularly pure bodies of rock, and usually the rock quarried has been only that which has been softened by weathering. During 1923 the Asbestos Mining & Manufacturing Co. conducted experiments on the separation of the anthophyllite from the gritty minerals with which it is in places associated. The process of treatment is based on well-established principles, but its application to asbestos is entirely new.
The Asbestos Mining & Milling Co. acquired title in March to the property of the American Mineral Grinding Co., near Hollywood, in Habersham County. The property is reached by the Tallulah Falls branch of the Southern Railway and is 14 miles from Cornelia and 75 miles from Atlanta. During 1923 the company further developed the deposit, which is stated to be 90 feet wide. A three-drill compressor furnishes power to the quarry. A drying shed was built in 1923, and milling machinery was installed. The general plan of the mill 'is as follows: Gates gyratory crusher crushing to 2 inches, bucket elevator to 15-ton bin, Jay-Bee pulverizer (hammer type) with heavy-duty suction fan, settling chamber to eliminate grit, collector, sacker. The company previously operating the deposit used a Raymond mill, but the present company has substituted a hammertype pulverizer, which is reported to give far more satisfactory results. The plant as above described was put into operation in 1924. The experimental work of the company on a further refinement in the process of treatment bids fair to yield valuable results.
L. M. Arnold made a preliminary shipment of 93 tons of crude asbestos rock to a manufacturer of chemical filters. This sale is significant in showing a recognition of the desirable chemical qualities of anthophyllite.
It is reported that the Clayton Paving Co., of Nashville, Tenn., acquired the mine and mill of the Sall Mountain Co., near Nacoochee, and ground and shipped two carloads of asbestos, but it closed down immediately thereafter and has not resumed operations.
Operations in the Kamiah anthophyllite field of Idaho have been resumed. A new company, the Panhandle Asbestos Co., acquired the property formerly held by the Kamiah Asbestos Manufacturing Co. in October, 1923. The property is owned by the State of Idaho, and the present company has a 10-year lease. The principal work during the year was the perfection of a process of treatment. The company expects to market the product in the form of manufactured asphalt roofing, the mass-fiber rock being ground in a ball mill. It is reported also that a rock made up of a very harsh, brittle fiber may be ground to yield a product of value to the paint trade. The company is expecting to use a 100-mesh product for this purpose.
The proposed use of fine asbestos powder in paint is one of considerable promise. Talc has long been used as a paint filler, and it has been found that the fibrous tale of New York is especially well suited for that use. Most of the talc so used is air floated and of about 300-mesh fineness. Asbestos of the same fineness would appear to be equally desirable, the fibrous structure giving a large surface relative to the bulk of the particle and the substance having chemical stability equal to that of tale. It is possible that finely ground anthophyllíte asbestos might also find a use in the paper industry, where fibrous talc is used in large quantity. Asbestos would have to compete with talc that costs about $15 to $17 a ton at the mines in the northern part of New York.
The Powhatan Mining Corporation, of Baltimore, Md., has .continued the production of high-grade amphibole asbestos, which is used for chemical filters. Two types of material are now produced“ technical,” a long and carefully prepared fiber used in chemical laboratories and worth about $1.20 a pound, and "commercial," shorter fiber used by the chemical industry and worth about $120 8 ton. The company has been operating again the Neikerk mine, near Pylesville.
MONTANA The Idaho-Montana Asbestos Co. has continued the development of its property just inside the Montana State line and 36 miles from West Yellowstone, Idaho. The company is now installing a mill for the separation of short fiber. The mill is to have a capacity of 60 tons to a 10-hour shift, which is equal to that of the larger Canadian mills. The development of this property is of considerable interest, because the deposit is of the limestone type. So far as known to the writer no deposit of this type has yet yielded paying quantities of mill fiber.