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Mineral Industry, California, 1919

Excerpts from

California Mineral Production for 1919,
Bulletin No. 88

By Walter W. Bradley, California State Mining Bureau, 1920, pp. 9-14.

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"Mineral output in California during the year 1919 amounted to the sum of $196,473,560 worth of crude materials. There were fifty different mineral substances, exclusive of a segregation of the various stones grouped under gems; and of the fifty-eight counties of the state, all but one contributed some mineral product.

"As compared with the 1918 output, the notable features of 1919 are: The continued increase in petroleum valuation, and the decrease in the so-called 'war minerals,' chromite, copper, magnesite, manganese, potash, and tungsten. Despite decreased valuation totaling over $18,000,000 shown by a number of substances, the result is a net decrease of only $3,280,277 in the grand total value, owing to the great increase by petroleum.

"Of the metals: Copper decreased from 47,793,046 pounds and $11,805,883 to 22,162,605 pounds and $4,122,246; quicksilver approximately one-third in quantity and one-half in value; lead and tungsten to about one-tenth; manganese to one-half. Gold and platinum were the only metals to yield increases, and they were small proportionately.

"Petroleum increased from 99,731,177 barrels and $127,459,221 to 101,182,962 barrels and $142,610,563. Natural gas also increased.

"Several of the structural and industrial minerals decreased in 1919, as compared to the 1918 figures, notably: Chromite, a drop of $3,552,333 in value; magnesite, with $351,398; and limestone, $208,113, the last-named being, in part, the result of closing down of copper smelters which use limestone for flux. Increases are noted among others, for brick and tile, 'miscellaneous stone' (crushed rock, sand and gravel), and pyrite. Of the salines, potash decreased $4,393,013 in value with borax and soda exhibiting smaller drops.

"The figures of the State Mining Bureau are made up from reports received direct from the producers of the various minerals. Care is exercised in avoiding duplication, and any error is likely to be on the side of under rather than over estimation.

"California yields commercially a greater number and variety of mineral products than any other state in the United States, and probably more than any other equal area elsewhere of the earth. Previous to 1916, the total annual value of her output was surpassed by but four other states, they being the great coal and iron producers of east of the Mississippi River. In 1916 and 1917, because of their enormous increases in copper output, Montana and Arizona passed California in total value for those years; and Arizona for 1918. Of one item, at least, borax, California still remains the sole producer; and for many years was also the sole domestic source of chromite and magnesite. We produce at least 75% of the quicksilver of the United States. For some years we have been leading all others in gold and platinum; while alternating in the lead with Colorado in tungsten, and with Okalahoma (sic) in petroleum.

"The following table shows the comparative yield of mineral substances of California for 1918 and 1919, as compiled from returns received at the State Mining Bureau, San Francisco, in answer to inquiries sent to producers:

Comparative yield of mineral substances of California for 1918 and 1919

"The following table shows the comparative value of the mineral production of the various counties in the state, for the years 1918 and 1919:

Comparative value of the mineral production of the various counties in the state, for the years 1918 and 1919

Total Production

"The following tabulation gives the total value of mineral production of California by years since 1887, in which year compilation of such data by the State Mining Bureau began. At the side of these figures the writer has placed the values of the most important metal and non-metal items-gold and petroleum.

"In the same period copper has also increased, beginning with 1897 following the entry of the Shasta County mines. Cement increased rapidly from 1902, while crushed rock, sand and gravel parallels the cement increase. Quicksilver has been up and down. Mineral water and salt have always been important items, but the values fluctuate. Borax has increased materially since 1896. Wartime increases, 1915-1918, were shown by chromite, copper, lead, magnesite, manganese, silver, tungsten and zinc, but all declined in 1919.

Total value of mineral production of California by years since 1887


"Bibliography: State Mineralogist Reports VIII, IX, XII, XIV, XV. Bulletin 38.

"Cement is one of the most important structural materials in the output of the state. During 1919 there was produced a total of 4,645,289 barrels, valued at $8,591,990, being a slight decrease in quantity but an increase in value over the 1918 figures. This output comes from eight operating plants in six counties. The feature of the 1919 production is the increased average price per barrel.

"Several of the cement plants recovered potash-bearing materials as by-products, notably: the Riverside Portland Cement Company, Riverside County; California Portland Cement Company and Southwestern Portland Cement Company, San Bernardino County; Santa Cruz Portland Cement Company, Santa Cruz County. The first-named was the pioneer in this work.

"The cement industry is so centralized that it is not possible to apportion the production to the counties in which plants are located without making private business public. With the exception of San Bernardino, no county has more than one cement plant. The three operating plants in San Bernardino County, in 1919, made a total of 1,078,943 barrels, valued at $1,717,998; the balance coming from a single plant in each of the following counties: Contra Costa, Riverside, San Benito, Santa Cruz and Solano.

"'Portland' cement was first commercially produced in the state in 1891; though in 1860 and for several years following, a natural hydraulic cement from Benicia was utilized in building operations in San Francisco. While the total figures are not of the same magnitude as those for gold and petroleum, the growth of the industry has been more than rapid, and a comparison of the annual figures representing the output since the inception of the industry is of interest.

"Annual production of cement in California has been as follows:"

Annual production of cement in California

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