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Production has been intermittent in the state since 1893, as shown in the following table:
3 33 740
1893 1894 1895 1896 1897 1898 1899 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905
1907 375 1908
7,350 6,150 4,500 14,750
10 14 219 228 300
STRONTIUM. Bibliography: Bulletin 67. Deposits of celestite (strontium sulphate, SrSc.) are known in the desert region of San Bernardino County, but as yet undeveloped. A small amount of strontium salts is used in the United States in fireworks manufacture. There is undoubtedly a good future for the strontium minerals in California, if the beet-sugar factories will take up their use, as has been done in Germany. Strontia is much more efficient and satisfactory in that process than lime.
67. There is, at present, no commercial output of native sulphur in California although this mineral has been found to some extent in Colusa, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Lake, Mariposa, San Bernardino, Sonoma, Tehama, and Ventura counties. Production of sulphur is very improbable in the immediate future, although possibilities of such a condition remain to be proven.
Sulphur was produced at the famous Sulphur Bank Mine, in Lake County, during the years 1865-1868 (inc.), totaling 941 tons, valued at $53,500; following which the property became more valuable for its quicksilver. There has been no commercial yield of sulphur in California since that period.
Borax, salt, soda, nitrates and potash are included under this head. ing. Borax and salt have been produced in California since the sixties, although no official records of output were kept by this Bureau previous to 1887. Soda has had a virtually continuous production since 1894. The nitrates have never been commercially produced in the state, and potash but recently, although the future possibilities along these lines are indeed great.
The desert portions of California, located largely in Inyo, Kern, Riverside, Imperial, and San Bernardino counties, are rich in the possession of salines of all descriptions. Ancient lake beds of vast extent are found there, many of which have not yet been exploited.
The following tabulation shows amount and value of the saline minerals produced in California during the years 1914 and 1915, with increase or decrease in value for 1915 as compared with the previous year:
letins 24, 67. Borax was first discovered in California in the waters of Tuscan Springs in Tehama County, January 8, 1856. Borax Lake, in Lake County, was discovered in September of the same year, by Dr. John A. Veatch. This deposit was worked in 1864-1866 (inc.), and during that time produced 1,181,365 pounds of borax. Not till 1873 were the borax deposits of Inyo and San Bernardino counties discovered.
Aside from the above mentioned localities borax is known in Kern, Los Angeles, Imperial, Solano and Ventura counties.
California is the only state in America producing borax. During 1915 two producers reported an output of 67,004 tons, valued at $1,663,521, compared with three producers and an output of 62,500 tons, valued at $1,483,500, in 1914.
Value of the state's borax output since 1887 is shown in the following table:
MAGNESIA. Magnesium chloride is an important item in certain chemical uses, and in the preparation of Sorél cement in laying magnesite floors. In the past, Germany has been the principal source of this chloride, which source is at the present time, of course, cut off.
For this reason, experiments are being made to prepare it from magnesite, which is so abundant in California; and also by some of the salt companies, from the residual bitterns obtained during the evaporation of sea water for its sodium chloride.
NITRATES. Nitrates of sodium, potassium and calcium have been found in various places in the desert regions of the state but no deposit of commercial value has been developed as yet. Interest in this class of mineral substance is increasing and closer search may be rewarded by valuable discoveries.
The subject of the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen electrically is just now occupying a place in the public mind by reason of its success in Germany and Scandinavia. The possibilities of cheap hydroelectric power in California make the subject one of intense interest to us, as we have also the natural raw products to go with the power.
Potash had not, previous to 1914, been commercially produced in California and only during the past few years has this substance created general interest in the state. Considerable money has been spent recently in preliminary work with a view toward developing what are claimed to be immense deposits of potash which lie in the old lake beds of the desert portions of California. The imports of this material from foreign countries have an annual value of many millions of dollars, and a domestic production would be of great utility.
During 1915, a total of 1,076 tons of potash-bearing material was produced, valued at $19,391, being in part an extraction from kelp, and in part from dust collected at one of the cement mills. There was one kelp plant in commercial operation at Long Beach, Los Angeles County, and several others in course of construction both there and at San Diego. Some of these plants merely dry the kelp, others burn it to an ash, both types shipping their product to the fertilizer manufacturers. The one plant in operation in 1915 and one of those building at San Diego are designed to prepare refined potash salts.
The large plant of the American Trona Corporation at Searles Lake, in San Bernardino County, is under construction and will produce potash, soda-ash and borax from the lake beds.
Experiments are also being made to extract potash from the bitterns obtained at some of the salt and soda works, particularly those at Owens Lake in Inyo County.
In the cement mill mentioned above, the fine dust from ball and tube mills, is collected by a Cottrell, electrical, smoke condenser, the material showing an approximately 11% potash content. This was sold to fertilizer manufacturers. All of the material thus collected was not sold, however; the unsold portion going back into the cementmaking process. In future, its sales will probably increase.
24. Most of the salt produced in California is obtained by evaporating the waters of the Pacific Ocean, plants being located on the shores of San Francisco Bay, at Long Beach, and on San Diego Bay. Additional amounts are derived from lakes and lake beds in the desert regions of the state. The salt production of San Bernardino County is derived from deposits of rock salt which are worked by means of quarrying with a steam shovel. A small amount of valuable medicinal
salts was produced during the year in Mono and Tehama counties, by evaporation from mineral springs.
The 1915 output amounted to 169,028 tons, valued at $368,737, distributed as follows, by counties :
*Combined to conceal output of a single plant in each.
The decrease, as compared with the 1914 figures of 223,806 tons, valued at $583,553, was mainly in the northern counties; and was due to late rainfall in May, 1915, which washed out much of the crop.
Amount and value of annual production of salt in California from 1887 to date is shown in the following tabulation :
24, 67. Bicarbonate of soda and soda ash were produced by two plants in Inyo County during 1915, amounting to 5,799 tons, valued at $83,485, as compared with 6,522 tons, valued at $115,396, in 1914.