FAQ’s

Interesting Facts about Montana Mines:

Montana Mining Minerals, Metals and Use – Everything is Made of Something

Did you know that the average automobile contains more than a ton of iron and steel, 240 lbs. of aluminum, 50 lbs. of carbon, 42 lbs. of copper, 41 lbs. of silicon, 22 lbs. of zinc, and more than thirty other mineral commodities, including titanium, platinum, and gold?

Montana has a wealth of mineral resources mined by responsible MMA member producers. Some of the uses of minerals required in our daily lives may surprise you. Are we taking minerals for granted?

Cobalt (Co) is used in super alloys for jet engines; chemicals (paint driers, catalysts, magnetic coatings); permanent magnets; and cemented carbides for cutting tools. It is used in the preparation of magnetic, wear-resistant and high-strength alloys. Cobalt gives a distinctive deep blue color to glass, ceramics, inks, paints and varnishes. It is also used as a radioactive tracer in the production of gamma rays and is found in vitamin B12. In organic forms it is an active nutrient for bacteria, algae and fungi.

Copper (Cu) is used in electric cables and wires, switches, plumbing, heating; roofing and building construction; chemical and pharmaceutical machinery; alloys (brass, bronze, and a new alloy with 3% beryllium that is particularly vibration resistant); alloy castings; electroplated protective coatings and undercoats for nickel, chromium, zinc, etc.

Gold (Au) is used in dentistry and medicine; in jewelry and arts; in medallions and coins; in ingots as a store of value; for scientific and electronic instruments that includes satellites, medical scanners, televisions, computers, and cell phones; and as an electrolyte in the electroplating industry.

Iron (Fe) is used to manufacture steels of various types. Powdered iron is used in metallurgy products; magnets; high-frequency cores; auto parts; and as a catalyst. Radioactive iron (iron 59) is used in medicine as a tracer element in biochemical and metallurgical research. Iron blue is used in paints, printing inks; plastics; cosmetics (eye shadow); artist colors; laundry blue; paper dyeing; fertilizer ingredient; baked enamel finishes for autos and appliances; and in industrial finishes. Black iron oxide is used as pigment; in polishing compounds; metallurgy; medicine; magnetic inks; and in ferrites for electronics industry.

Lead (Pb) is used in lead batteries, gasoline additives and tanks, and solders, seals or bearings. It is used in electrical and electronic applications; TV tubes, TV glass, construction, communications, and protective coatings; in ballast or weights; ceramics or crystal glass; tubes or containers, type metal, foil or wire; in X-ray and gamma radiation shielding; and for soundproofing material in construction.

Molybdenum (Mo) is used in alloy steels (47% of all uses) to make automotive parts, construction equipment, gas transmission pipes; stainless steels (21%) used in water distribution systems, food handling equipment, chemical processing equipment, home, hospital, and laboratory requirements; tool steels (9%) bearings, dies, machining components; cast irons (7%) steel mill rolls, auto parts, crusher parts; super alloys (7%) in furnace parts, gas turbine parts, chemical processing equipment; chemicals and lubricants (8%) as catalysts, paint pigments, corrosion inhibitors, smoke and flame retardants, and as a lubricant.

Nickel (Ni) is particularly useful for the alloys it forms particularly with steel for stainless steel, as a catalyst for hydrogenation and is an essential nutrient for microorganisms and plants.

Platinum Group Metals (includes platinum (Pt), palladium (Pd), rhodium (Rh), iridium (Ir), osmium (Os), and ruthenium (Ru)) are among the scarcest of the metallic elements. Platinum is used principally in catalysts for the control of automobile and industrial plant emissions; in catalysts to produce acids, organic chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. Platinum group metals are used in bushings for making glass fibers used in fiber-reinforced plastic and other advanced materials, in electrical contacts, in capacitors, in conductive and resistive films used in electronic circuits; in dental alloys used for making crowns and bridges; and in jewelry.

Pyrite is used in the manufacture of sulfur, sulfuric acid, and sulfur dioxide; pellets of pressed pyrite dust are used to recover iron, gold, copper, cobalt, and nickel.

Rare Earth Elements are used primarily in petroleum fluid fracking catalysts, metallurgical additives, ceramics and polishing compounds, permanent magnets, and phosphors. Rare earth elements are lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, and lutetium.

Silver (Ag) is used in photography, chemistry, jewelry; in electronics because of its very high conductivity; as currency, generally in some form of an alloy; in lining vats and other equipment for chemical reaction vessels, water distillation, etc.; as a catalyst in manufacture of ethylene; mirrors; electric conductors; batteries; silver plating; table cutlery; dental, medical, and scientific equipment; electrical contacts; bearing metal; magnet windings; brazing alloys, and solder.

Tungsten (W) is used in many alloys and has numerous applications including incandescent light bulb filaments, x-ray tubes, electrodes in TIG (Tungsten insert gas) welding, and compounds in tungsten are used industrially as catalysts.

Zinc (Zn) is used as protective coating on steel, as die casting, as an alloying metal with copper to make brass, and in chemical compounds in rubber and paints; it is used as sheet zinc and for galvanizing iron; electroplating; metal spraying; automotive parts; electrical fuses; anodes; dry cell batteries; fungicides; and in nutrition.

Bentonite is an absorbent impure clay and is used in drilling mud, as a binder (e.g. foundry-sand bond, iron ore pelletizer), as a purifier, an absorbent (e.g. pet litter), and as a groundwater barrier.

Construction Sand and Gravel is one of the most accessible natural resources and a major basic raw material. Construction sand and gravel is used to make concrete, for road construction, for mixing with asphalt, as construction fill, and in the production of construction materials like concrete blocks, bricks, and pipes. Sand and gravel can also be used to make roofing shingles; on icy roads in the winter for enhanced traction; as landscape material; on driveways or parking lots; and also for water filtration.

Garnet is not a single mineral, but describes a group of several closely related minerals. Garnets come in a variety of colors and have many different varieties. Gemstone quality garnets in all colors are used in jewelry. The first industrial use of garnet was as an abrasive. The largest industrial use of garnet in the United States is in waterjet cutting. Garnet granules are often used as a filter media.

Limestone is used in environmental applications, metallurgy, construction, chemical/industrial applications, as a building material, as an aggregate for the base of roads, as white pigment or filler in products such as toothpaste or paints, as a chemical feedstock, and as a soil conditioner to neutralize acidic soils.

Gypsum is processed and used in pre-fabricated wallboard or as a binder in fast-dry tennis court clay. It is used in cement manufacture, and as a fertilizer. It is the main constituent in many forms of plaster including those used in surgical splints, casting molds and modeling as well as in blackboard chalk.

Quartz (Silica), as a crystal, is used as a semiprecious gemstone. Cryptocrystalline forms may also be gemstones: agate, jasper, onyx, carnelian, chalcedony, etc. Crystalline gem varieties include amethyst, citrine, rose quartz, and smoky quartz. Because of its piezoelectric properties quartz is used for pressure gauges, oscillators, resonators, and wave stabilizers. Because of its ability to rotate the plane of polarization of light and its transparency in ultraviolet rays it is used in heat-ray lamps, prisms, and spectrographic lenses. It is also used in the manufacture of glass, paints, abrasives, refractories, and precision instruments.

Talc is used in many industries such as paper making, plastic, paint and coatings, rubber, food, electric cable, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and ceramics. Talc is also used as an ornamental stone, being carved into figures, jewelry boxes, tiling, and art sculptures.

Zeolites are used in aquaculture (fish hatcheries for removing ammonia from the water); as a water softener; in catalysts; in cat litter; for odor control; and for removing radioactive ions from nuclear plant effluent.

Montana Mining Job and Tax Impacts

The Economic Contribution of Montana’s Hardrock Mining Industry: Executive Summary

What would the economy of the state of Montana look like if the eight largest hardrock mines – producing copper, palladium, gold, talc, cement and other products and materials – did not exist? The communities in which those facilities are located – the businesses, the households and governments whose economic fortunes are closely tied with the success of Montana’s mines – already understand the importance of the hardrock mining industry to their own prosperity. It is perhaps less apparent – but no less important – to the population of the state as a whole.

Did You Know?

1. Aluminum, fiberglass, graphite, titanium, zirconium, beryllium, copper, tungsten, and steel have replaced wood in baseball bats, tennis racquets, and golf clubs to make them lighter and stronger.

2. Much of our food is grown using fertilizers made from phosphate and potash.

3. Modern tools for safe food storage and preparation (such as, refrigerators and stoves) are made from many mineral commodities and rely on copper wires for electric power or copper pipe for natural gas. The same is true for manufacturing and storing medicinal and pharmaceutical products.

4. Advances in materials science have allowed bicycles, once largely made of steel, to incorporate parts made of aluminum, carbon fiber, magnesium, and titanium that make them lighter and more durable.

5. Lipstick and makeup includes clay, mica, talc, limestone and petroleum products. Minerals provide the color to eyes, cheeks, lips, and nails. Iron oxide, one of the most important color minerals, was used by Cleopatra in the form of red ochre as rouge. Today, iron oxides give red, orange, yellow, brown, and black tones to makeup. Chrome oxides are used for greens; manganese violet for purple; ground lapis lazuli may be added to makeup for blue. Ultramarine blue and pink coloring is made from a mixture of kaolin, soda ash, sulfur, and charcoal. Even gold has historically been used as a colorant.

6. It takes more than 33 minerals and elements to make a computer? Those vital computer ingredients consist of: aluminum, antimony, barite, beryllium, cobalt, columbium, copper, gallium, germanium, gold, indium, iron, lanthanides, lithium, manganese, mercury, mica, molybdenum, nickel, platinum, quartz crystals, rhenium, selenium, silicon, silver, strontium, tantalum, tellurium, tin, tungsten, vanadium, yttrium, zinc, and zirconium.

7. Wind turbines use many mineral resources in their construction. To name a few, aggregates, crushed stone, clay and shale, gypsum, limestone, and silica for cement; iron ore, molybdenum and coke (a by-product of coal) for steel; zinc for galvanizing; bauxite (aluminum), cobalt for magnets, rare earth oxides for batteries and magnets; and copper for wiring.

8. The increased production of renewable energy is driving increased demand for mined metals and minerals. New solar panels require arsenic, bauxite, boron, cadmium, coal, copper, gallium, indium, iron ore, molybdenum, lead, phosphate, selenium, silica, tellurium, and titanium dioxide. Delivering renewable energy to your home or business still requires a power distribution system which requires wood, concrete, steel, aluminum, carbon, copper and other natural resources.

9. Do cell phones have anything in common with rocks and minerals? You better believe it. Arsenic, copper, gallium, gold, indium, magnesium, palladium, platinum, silver, tin, and tungsten are just some of the minerals in a cell phone.

10. The nation’s reliance on foreign sources of minerals increased slightly in 2014, with 100 percent import reliance on 19 mineral commodities and more than 50 percent import reliance on 43 mineral commodities.

11. Minerals and metals are essential to the technologies that define our modern medical world and are key to many of the medicinal innovations we see today. From MRI scanners to inhibiting the spread of the influenza virus, from anti-microbial properties to accelerating the healing process, from surgical equipment to arthritis treatments, minerals including copper, gold, silver, titanium, and other minerals are part of modern medicine.

12. Hybrid cars are a fantastic innovative technology; however, they are impossible to make without mined metals and minerals. Each hybrid vehicle contains numerous mined materials, like nickel, copper and iron. These materials are essential to their manufacturing.

13. Silver has been used for its antibacterial properties in healing wounds for thousands of years. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a deadly staph germ that is resistant to many other hospital-grade antibiotics, can often be wiped out through silver-based dressings.

14. Countries where both individuals and banks accumulate and hold gold as a preferred store of wealth seem to be strengthening. Gold is also a way for individuals in emerging markets to secure wealth from government pilfering and meddling, in all the forms that can take.

15. Minerals play a really important role in our dental hygiene. There are many materials and minerals found in the toothpaste that we use. Some of the minerals that you would find in toothpaste are Fluorspar (fluoride), Mica, Sand (silica), and Titanium.

16. Talc is an ideal anti-stick, surface finishing and coating agent in many foods such as confectionery, dried foodstuffs, seasonings and cured meats. In chewing gum, talc makes an excellent filler and gum base regulator – particularly for acid fruit flavors. It is used in enteric coatings for targeted delivery of drugs. Talc is used in seals, hoses, membranes, cables, tires and other mechanical rubber goods to improve processing, permeability, weathering, electrical properties, fire resistance and mechanical properties such as tear.

17. Bricklayer Joseph Aspdin of Leeds, England first made portland cement early in the 19th century by burning powdered limestone and clay in his kitchen stove. Portland cement is the basic ingredient of concrete. Concrete is formed when portland cement creates a paste with water that binds with sand and rock to harden. Cement is manufactured through a closely controlled chemical combination of calcium, silicon, aluminum, iron and other ingredients.

18. Between 1980 and 2014, gross domestic product increased 147 percent, vehicle miles traveled increased 97 percent, energy consumption increased 26 percent, and U.S. population grew by 41 percent. During the same time period, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants dropped by 63 percent.

19. Every year 37,687 pounds of new minerals must be provided for every person in the United States to make the things we use every day. To generate the energy each person uses in one year, it requires the production of 933 gallons of petroleum, 6,988 lbs. of coal, 76,319 cu. ft. of natural gas, and ¼ lb. of uranium.

20. Some believe that the choice to be made is to either have clean water OR mining. But think about this: At home, we have instant clean water by turning on the faucet. The water treatment plant and the chemicals used for purification, the pipes and plumbing parts which bring us our water, and waste disposal systems – are made entirely from mineral resources. Mining enables us to have clean water.

What steps does mining take to protect the environment?

Montana mining is subject to all Federal and State Environmental Laws and Regulations effecting hardrock mining. Before any ground is disturbed mining companies must ensure, by way of adequate bonding, complete reclamation and remediation of exploration and mining sites. In addition update bonding requirements are ensured throughout the life of the mine.