The Utah mining industry set new records for the value of the non-fuel minerals it produced in 1988 - including copper, gold and magnesium, according to the U.S. Bureau of Mines.
The value was an estimated $990 million, up 29 percent from $700 million in 1987 and up 62 percent from $375 million in 1986, according to a recent state-by-state review of mineral production. The state also broke production records set in 1981, when copper output peaked.Utah ranked 11th in the nation for the value of the minerals it extracted in 1988 and produced 3.25 percent of the value of all non-fuel minerals mined in the nation that year.
The states that ranked higher were California, with $2.85 billion; Alaska, $2.83 billion; Nevada, $1.87 billion; Michigan, $1.55 billion; Florida, 1.52 billion; Texas, 1.47 billion; Minnesota, $1.39 billion; Georgia, $1.35 billion; Pennsylvania, $1.04 billion; and New Mexico, $1.01 billion.
The Bureau of Mines said the main reasons for the new record in Utah were high prices for copper and gold, and their increased production at the recently reopened Kennecott Bingham Canyon Mine near Copperton in Salt Lake County.
The Bureau said that mine was the state's chief producer of copper, gold, silver and molybdenum but did not list specific tonnage or value of minerals produced by it.
It said copper prices averaged about $1.20 a pound during 1988, compared with 82.5 cents per pound in 1989. Also, high demand resulting from diminished stockpiles kept production high. Gold prices also remained high, although the average price slipped from $448 in 1987 to $439 in 1988.
Bureau publications said Utah ranked third among the states in production of copper (behind Arizona and New Mexico) and second in magnesium (behind Texas).
Besides Kennecott, other significant non-fuel mineral producers listed in the state by the Bureau of Mines include the open-pit gold mine run by Barrick Mercur Gold Mines Inc. in Tooele County; Hecla Mining Co.'s Escalante underground silver mine in Iron County; and AMAX's magnesium operations on the Great Salt Lake in Tooele County.
While the value of such metals produced was up, the production and value was down for such construction materials as Portland cement, gypsum, sand and gravel.
The Bureau said that was "related, in part, to a depressed construction industry and the shutdown of several operations. For example, Lone Star Industries Inc. temporarily idled in October 1987 its Portland Cement of Utah plant in Salt Lake City. However, demand failed to improve and the facility remained closed."