FLORIDA'S MINERAL INDUSTRY: AN HISTORICAL APPRAISAL
OF A PHASE OF THE FLORIDA ECONOMY
the Faculty of the Graduate School
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree
Master of Science
Gwendolyn C. Johnson
FLORIDA'S MINERAL INDUSTRY: AN HISTORICAL APPRAISAL
OF A PHASE OF THE FLORIDA ECONOMY
the Faculty of the Graduate School
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
Dean of Education
Deain of duat e School
'S J 1i i I
. /* ^
Minerals have always played an important role in
the history of Florida. The search for mineral wealth
by the Spanish explorers opened the modern history of the
state. Although the quest of the Conquistadores for
gold was not successful, other less valuable but more
serviceable minerals have been discovered and exploited.
The result has been the development of a mining industry
in Florida as a significant aspect of the economy of
The purpose of this study is to trace the develop-
ment of the mining industry in Florida from its inception
to the present. Although mining as an industry began
in the last half of the nineteenth century, an historical
account of the period of exploration and colonization is
given to provide a perspective from which the evolution
of the mining industry can be studied. The study is
primarily concerned with the beginning, development and
extent of mining operations; however, some attempt has
been made to assess the effect of mining establishments on
the communities in which they are located.
The procedure used in this study was the Mistorical
Method. Data were gathered through the examination of
available records, company reports, articles and special
works on mining, and general works. Some valuable infor-
mations was obtained from visits to mining sites, interviews
with persons working in the mining industry and from
personal correspondence with company officials. For the
most part, however, the writer has had to rely on Reports
of geological surveys, mining Year Books and publications
of the United States Bureau of Mines.
This study consists of four chapters. Chapter I
is concerned with a narration of exploration and colonization. *
The search for gold as a motive for these activities is
also treated. Chapter II deals with the beginning of the
mining industry; Chapter III treats its development; and
Chapter IV assesses the present status of the industry.
It is the hope of the writer that this study will
be of some historical value, and that it will serve as an
incentive to other students to explore the field of economic
The writer wishes to thank Dr. Henry E. Cobb,
Mr. Harold Rose, Mr. John Riley, Mr. Walter White,
Mr. T. A. Jackson, Mr. J. A. Jones, and Mr. Howard Smith
for advice, information, and encouragement in pursuing
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION..........*.............. ...*. .. .....
I. HISTORICAL SETTING OF THE MINING INDUSTRY
IN FLORIDA.........................**.. ..*
II. BEGINNING OF THE MINING INDUSTRY IN FLORIDA
III. DEVELOPMENT OF THE MINING INDUSTRY IN
IV. PRESENT STATUS OF THE MINING INDUSTRY IN
LIST OF TABLES
I. Florida Minerals...............*........... 38
II. Average Salary Wage-Earners
Trail Ridge and Highland Plants............ 39
III. Quantity of Production of Selected Minerals
1940 1953..........+..................+.. 59
HISTORICAL SETTING OF THE MINING
INDUSTRY IN FLORIDA
"God, Glory, and Gold" impelled Spain to her dis-
coveries and explorations in the New World, including her
ventures in Florida.1 One of the earliest of Spaniards
urged on by various motives to penetrate into the interior
of North America was Ponce de Leon.
On that day between the 2nd and 8th of April, 1513,
when Juan Ponce de Leon stepped from his landing boat
upon the sandy shores of Florida, he opened the positive
history of the European within the limits of the present
United States.3 Hitherto Spanish exploration had been
directed south and west of the West Indies, but rumors had
become current that lands had been found toward the north.
Ponce de Leon was informed by some of the purveyors
that this land contained within its borders all the
1J. E. Dovell, Florida: Historic, Dramatic,
Contemporary, p. 18.
2G. F. Fairbanks, History of Florida, p. 14.
3F. T. Davis, History of Juan Ponc e d Leon'
Voyages to Florida, p. 6.
treasures of El Dorado, and that it possessed waters which
were capable of restoring youth to those who bathed in
This enticing description appealed to Ponce de Leon
because of many considerations, among the most prominent
of which was the natural craving for gold.4 Ponce de Leon
resolved to go to explore northward. This was the main
objective of the voyage. Ponce de Leon asked permission
of the King to explore in that direction. The Grant was
issued to Ponce de Leon on February 12, 1512. He landed
in Florida between April 2 and 8, 1513. This royal grant
was obtained to discover and colonize the Island of Bimini
an island which shared with the other unknown region the
reputation for possessing one of those wonderful fountains.
The island was said to be near at hand in the Lucayan
Unable after a long exploration to find Bimini, he
then determined to seek the more distant land. He first
sighted land on the eastern coast of Florida on Sunday,
41bid., p. 10.
5j. F. Jameson, Original Narrative of Early
American History, p. 20.
6F. Marine, The Story of Ponce de Leon, p. 8.
the 27th of March, 1512, but did not set foot upon its
shores until April 2, 1512.7 The Indian name of the
country is said to have been Cantio but Ponce de Leon, im-
pressed by the luxuriant vegetation that he viewed, gave
to the area the name Florida.
Ponce de Leon's company remained on the coast some
two months before exploring the interior to some extent,
and used various portions of the shores of the supposed
islands. The inhabitants were found to be fierce and im-
placable and the explorations made brought to light
neither riches nor treasures of any kind nor could the
eager de Leon obtain any information about the fabled
fountain which was to renew his youth. Finally discouraged
with the fruitless results of his expedition, he returned
to Porto Rico carrying with him nothing of value but the
report of his discovery.
On leaving Florida, Ponce de Leon again searched for
the renowned island Bimini but with no better success than
before. He returned to Porto Rico, putting the best face
on the matter and determined to gain whatever credit might
attach to his discovery of a new region,
7Davis, o2. cit., pp. 14 15.
8M. W. Williams, The PeoDle and Politics of Latin
America, p. 119.
In the interim between Ponce's two voyages, several
explorers cruised along all or parts of the Florida Gulf
Coast. In 1516 Diego Miruelo, who had met Ponce de Leon
in the Bahamas on the latter's return to Porto Rico, was
reported to have secured gold from the west coast aborigi-
nes while trading during various landings.9
In February 1521, Ponce de Leon made his first bid
to claim the lands he had discovered. "Setting sail from
Porto Rico with two ships, two hundred men, fifty horses,
a number of other domestic animals and farm implements to
cultivate the soil, the group finally landed in the
neighborhood of Charlotte Harbor."10 Hardly had the
colonists begun to build homes when the Indians set upon
them with fury. The valiant Ponce de Leon, leading his
body. Some of his followers were killed. This disaster
put an end to the enterprise. Ponce de Leon and his
colonists departed and made port at Cuba having lost a
ship on the way. A few days later Ponce de Leon died
from his wounds,11
9Davis, 0P. cit., p. 10.
10Dovell, op. cit., p. 23.
11Ibid., p. 24.
For four decades after the last voyage of Ponce
de Leon, 'the enigmatic nature of Florida, which was to
plague European explorers for many more years,12 enticed
a number of individuals to the Florida shores. Some were
bent upon establishing settlements among the hostile
Indians along the coastlines or to find gold. The dis-
coveries of Ponce de Leon and his immediate followers were
of notable consequence in the history of North America.
As a result of the discovery of the Bahama Channel and with
that the charting of the route for the Spanish treasure
ships from the American continents via Havana and Spain,
the Florida Peninsula achieved a new significance.
By 1550, the Spanish crown had found the compromise
between royal plantations in the New World as properties
of the state and the establishment of private enterprises
under a profit system.13
Pedro Menendez de Aviles was the ex-pirate holder
of an asiento with Philip II of Spain, by which the latter
advanced 15,000 ducats and constituted the holder proprie-
tor of the Florida colony upon repayment of the money.
Menendez expected to do this from the yields of crops,
profits in slave trading, and mining of gold. All of the
b2Ibid., p. 47
13Ibid., p. 48
activity of colonization and construction from San Antonio
(Charlotte Harbor) to Axaco (Chesapeake Bay) was financed
by Menendez and the crown. The precious metals of Florida
were only those salvaged from the shipwrecks along the
shore and the pearl fisheries were nonexistent, thus the
exploration of the natural resources would rest upon the
produce from the soil and the arable soils of Florida are
often found in close proximity to the seashore,14
The fixed determination of Spain to colonize Florida
and to defend the provinces against rival powers for two
centuries is one of the significant factors in American
Two events occurred which affected the destiny of
Spanish Florida as well as the entire Carribbean region.
In May, 1668, Robert Searles the English pirate attacked
St. Augustine, plundered the public buildings and homes and
killed sixty spaniards. With Searles went the English in-
triguer, Dr. Henry who had been captured among the Indians
by a Spanish border patrol. The second event, the
establishment of Charles Town (Charlestown, S. C.) in 1670
at the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper rivers, moved
14J. Merriman, Rise of the Spanish Empire Old and
New, Vol. I, p. 80.
the Spanish through the Cicercy of Mexico to begin con-
struction of a massive stone fort, the Castillo de San
Marcos, at the North entrance to St. Augustine harbor.15
Actual construction of the Castillo began in 1672
and the fortress was virtually completed in 1687. The
building of the fort produced a small "boom" in the com-
munity. The structure received its first baptism of fire
in 1702, and was attacked again in 1733 and 1740 but was
never taken by force.16 The English intrusion coupled
with fierce pirate raids stimulated a Spanish program of
defense at Santa Catalina a garrison was now established
beside the mission. It was the founding of Charleston
that introduced the "stone age" at St. Augustine. Hither-
to the old fort had been a wooden structure. Funds were
appropriated, stone was quarried, lime kilns were opened
and an engineer and artisans brought from Havana. Indians
were levied from Guale, Timucua, and Apalache to work on
the fortification. Delays occurred but when Quiroga
(1687) came as governor, he found completed in the main the
great castle which still stands at St. Augustine a monu-
ment to Spain's determination.17
.ilbid., p. 22.
16Dovell, S. cit., p. 23.
171bid., pp. 23 24.
This stone (Coquina) was in fact the first stone
used for building purposes in America. Coquina consists
of a mass of shells of varying size or fragments of shells
cemented together ordinarily by calcium carbonate. A
small admixture of sand is in some instances included with
the shells. When first exposed the mass of shells is im-
perfectly cemented and the rock is readily cut into blocks
of desired size. The shells from this formation have been
extensively used with concrete in the construction of
modern buildings at St. Augustine.
For forty-five years Florida remained the land of
lost hopes for more than one bold conqueror. Its geography
constantly lured men to explore and settle but the con-
dition of the region hampered their success for no gold lay
at hand for the taking, no native cultures could be easily
exploited. There was not even a smooth road to agricultur-
al development. Florida's resources must be intelligently
developed. The significance of this period, therefore, is
not what was done to Florida but what was learned about
Florida has no mountains. The peninsula is testing
18T Green, History Past and Present o Florida,
upon coral rock formations extending into the Atlantic
Caribbean waters. Therefore, under expected circumstances,
there would be no mining in Florida, as the generally ac-
cepted version of mining goes* Mining in Florida does not
therefore consist of tunnelling through rocks following
a mineral vein.
In order to understand the soils of Florida it is
well to bear in mind the character of the parent formation
from which they originated, the conditions under which the
soil accumulated, and the climatic conditions to which they
have been subjected since their formation.
A consideration of the character of the formations
from which the soils were derived involves a review of the
early history of Florida. In early geologic times the land
area that we now know as Florida was submerged and formed
at that time a part of the ocean bed. During its period of
submergence, geologic formations were accumulating. It
was not until the area became dry land that soils began to
form. However, the kind of materials that accumulated
while the area was submerged determined to a large extent
the character of the soils that were to form after the area
became dry land.19
19E. H. Sellars, Annual Report of the Florida State
Geological Survey, p. 12.
It is not difficult to understand the kind of
materials that accumulated in the ocean bed during the
period of submergence, since similar materials are still
accumulating under similar conditions. Sand and shell
deposits are being formed along the shore at present as in
the past. Off the coast near the mouths of large rivers,
clays, muds, and sands are deposited forming clays, shales
and sandstones. Those who have visited the Florida Keys
along the southeast coast from Miami to Key West cannot
fail to have observed that limestone is there rapidly
forming. The clear waters are favorable to marine life,
including many shells and other forms having calcareous
skeletons. After the death of the animal the shell more
or less broken by the waves falls to the bottom. Large
coral masses are frequently rolled about in the shallow
water on the reefs and more or less completely ground to
pieces. So abundant is the ground-up and fragmental
materials in these shallow waters following a storm that
the water becomes milky white with the material in sus-
pension which again settles to the bottom when the water
201bid., p. 13.
Of primary importance in the geographical consider-
ation of any region is the availability of an adequate
water supply. The fact that roughly two million acres of
Florida are covered by water has been a blessing.
The natural source of fresh water, whether stored
in lakes, flowing from the earth in springs or secured
from man-made wells is rain. Comparative data of the
United States Weather Bureau show that the average pre-
cipitation for Florida is near 53 inches. Much of the
rainfall of Florida, passes through the sandy soil into
the limestone formation underlying the state, adding to the
ground water resources which in turn are depleted by
springs and ocean.21
Water is the most common, most vital and most
valuable resource. Ground water is the principal source
of supply for industrial, municipal, agricultural, and
domestic uses in Florida. The daily consumption of ground
water by these four major uses is estimated by the United
States Geological Survey to average about 500 million
21Dovell, o. cit., p. 840.
22H. F. Becker, Florida: Wealth or Waste? p. 119.
BEGINNING OF MINING IN FLORIDA
The development of the mineral industry in Florida,
its continued growth and diversification are dependent
upon the utilization of materials ordinarily classified as
non-metallic minerals. The leading mineral products of the
state are phosphate, limestone, and heavy minerals in-
cluding ilmenite, rutile, zircon, and monazite,
The first discovered and still leading product of
modern mining in Florida is phosphate. The first attempt
mining and utilizing the phosphate of Florida was made by
Dr. C. A, Simmons, of Hawthorne, in 1883. This plant,
however, was not successful and was closed down in 1884.2
The production of phosphate rock on a commercial
scale in Florida began with the mining of the Peace Creek
pebble deposits, probably in 1887, the first shipments
having been made in 1888. The first company to operate
on Peace River was the Arcadia Phosphate Company, organ-
ized by Mr. T. S. Morehead, of Philadelphia. The first
shipments were to the G. W. Scott Manufacturing Company of
23E. H. Sellars, Florida State Geological Survey,
Fifth Annual Report, pp, 42 43.
24Editorial in the Florida Times-Union, April 14,
Hard rock phosphate mining began one or two years
later than river pebble mining, but developed much more
rapidly. The first of the hard rock mining companies to
actually take the field was the Marion Phosphate Company,
which broke ground near Dunnellon in December, 1889, and
made a first shipment to Liverpool in April, 1890. The
Dunnellon Phosphate Company, which was probably the first
company organized, began mining in February, 1890, and made
their first shipment to London, and Hamburg in May, 1890.
Following the discovery of the hard rock phosphate deposits,
mining companies were organized in rapid succession. It
is said that fully one hundred hard rock phosphate deposit
mining companies were organized in the United States, and
that forty-one of these actually began operating.25 By
1913 fourteen companies were mining hard rock phosphate in
Mining operations in Florida may be divided into
three periods. The first period was one of rapid growth,
with relatively minor annual fluctuations with the quantity
of phosphate rock produced, reflecting a general stable
world economy. In the second period the world's economic
position was unstable and growth of the phosphate industry
virtually stopped. Domestic production followed closely
the widely varying economic conditions of this period.
25lbid., p. 43.
Since the beginning of World War II, the marketed pro-
duction of Florida has advanced at a rate or expansion
slightly greater than that which prevailed during the pre-
World War I period and has already reached a level over
twice as high as that attained in the first 70 years of
the domestic phosphate rock industry. Most of this ex-
pension represents an increase in domestic consumption26
In 1888 George W. Scott of Atlanta drifted down
the Peace River and tried to tie his boat to a projecting
root. The root turned out to be the tusks of a prehis-
toric animal. Likewise, Albertus Voght while sinking a
well on his premises in Dunnellon, discovered some fossil
teeth in a white subsoil.27 The following description of
this new industry was summarized by Kathryn Hanna:
From this humble and even accidental
beginning there grew a great industry, for
Scott had hit upon the river pebble and
Voght, the hard rock deposit of this mineral,
The discovery set Florida afire and for the
next few years every land-owner collected
rock fragments hoping they were phosphate.
The region around Dunnellon experienced a
typical "gold rush boom," speculators,
gamblers, saloons, conflicting claims, legal
tangles and all. Everyone, toted a gun and
the justice of the peace held coroner's
26K. Hanna, Florida Land of Change, p. 369.
27Ibid., p. 370.
inquests and justice's court every Monday
morning over the victims and culprits of
the Saturday night and Sunday festivities.
Court was held under an oak tree with a
bacon box for a desk, a nail keg for a
bench and a heavily armed constable near
for emergencies. Some of the names of the
mines indicate the popular state of mind,
for example, Tiger Rag, Bone Valley,
Pebbledale, Coronet, and East but best
of all Eagle Bird and Eagle.
Hard rock deposits were mined first and
are located along the Gulf side of the
peninsula from Suwannee and Columbia
counties on the north to Citrus and Hernando
on the south.
The first company which opened for business
in 1889 was the Marion county Phosphate Company.
Later the richest concern was the Dunnellon
Phosphate Company which worked holdings accumu-
lated by Albertus Voght himself. The region
around Dunnellon proved itself to be the richest
in production in the industry until outdistanced
by its own neighbor, the great pebble district
located in the Bone Valley formation or the
counties of Hillsboro, Polk and Hardee. Although
operations had started a short time after the
discovery of the material in 1888, the full
growth of the industry came slowly. In 1880 two
companies were dredging for phosphate pebbles
which had a marked price of $20 per ton. All
mines in both districts used Negro and white
labor. However, the ratio of Negro to white
labor ran as high as ten to one.29
Nothing remains in the pioneer stateforever, so
the phosphate industry settled down to fair stabilization
28bid., p. 370.
29bid., p. 370.
by 1900. The small operations plants had largely gone
bankrupt or were absorbed by larger concerns. Another
change emerged in the growing supremacy of the pebble
over the hard rock mines due to the discovery of better
grade phosphate. In time pebble-mining relegated the
other type to a definite second place. As the years
passed, the industry expanded its scope and improved its
method until it has become a highly technical process.
After fifty years of existence it stands as one of
Florida's greatest industries, producing 80 per cent of
the phosphate mined in the United States bringing to the
state $270,000,000 in half a century.30
The history of the present phosphate particles
begins at least ten or fifteen million years ago.
Billions and trillons of these little pellets were formed
in a sea as inorganic precipitation from the seawater as
the pellets formed, calcium carbonate, from the water to
build their shells and bodies, contributing to the for-
mation of limestone. As the sediments slowly accumulated,
their weight caused campaction and a very gradual sinking
to the sea floor until more than 200 feet or rock accumu-
lated. Some layers were highly phosphatic, some were
30"Phosphate Vital to Life," Internation Minerals
and Chemical Corporation, p. 52.
almost all sand, depending on the major source of sediments
for long periods of time. These strata, now known as the
Hawthorne limestone formed during a period of perhaps
10,000years and covered almost all of present Florida and
parts of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.31
Sea levels lowered, then for a few thousand more
years the limestone was exposed to atmospheric weathering
and erosion. Much of the relatively soluble limestone was
removed in solution through sinkholes and by streams. The
less soluble phosphate and quartz was largely left behind.
Phosphate mining began the latter part of the past
century when it was discovered that the mineral aided the
growth of food crops and restored worked out land. In
this country, mining began in South Carolina in 1867, in
Florida in 1882, and in Tennessee just a few years
later.32 Early in the twentieth century, quite a number
of companies were in the business, all utilizing extremely
crude methods which achieved a poor recovery of the
phosphate ore. Mules and scrapers were used to remove the
top layer of soil to expose the ore, and different dredges
were used for digging and washing the material. Thus
31lbid., p. 55
32H. Gunter, Florida Geological Survey, p. 28.
large quantities of phosphate were lost in the mining
process. Mining processes were greatly improved in 1921
when steam powered dragline excavators were introduced to
replace the slower and less efficient steam shovels and
tram cars. Just two years later, International placed
into operation the first electrically driven draglines non-
standard equipment in the Florida phosphate field.33
International Minerals and Chemical Corporation was
instrumental in starting laboratory research to provide
more efficient processes which ultimately led to the modern
day flotation method with recoveries up to 95 per cent of
the phosphate from the ore fed into the refinery.
Flotation was the key that unlocked the door to vast ton-
nages of ore which prior to that time could not be economi-
cally processed. For the first time phosphate grains could
be efficiently separated from sand grain of the same size.
It ended the necessity of mining only those deposits where
the phosphate was contained largely as pebble.34
The advent of flotation has greatly prolonged the
life expectancy of the Florida Field by increasing the
33"Phosphate Vital to Life*, International Mineral
and Chemical Corporation, p. 11.
34Bureau of Mines, Mineral Facts and Problems,1956,
reserves of commercial ore. Geologists estimate that at
the present rate of production there is sufficient
phosphate available in Florida for 1,000 years of mining.
The first commercial shipment of phosphate concentrates
produced by the flotation process was made in 1928, from
the Florida Mines.35
The Noralyn mine and plant near Bartow, Florida is
one of the most advanced phosphate production facilities
in the world.36 In the early days, it was possible to
open a mine and washer for only $250,000 The Noralyn
operation, which was constructed in the middle 1940's with
an investment of over ten million dollars would cost con-
siderably more than that to build today.
The production of phosphate rock is a gigantic
operation. In a single day, the largest phosphate plant
(Noralyn) uses more water than would be used by a city the
size of Cincinnati or Minneapolis and enough electrical
power for a city of 25,000 population. The steps involved
in producing phosphate consists of the following in order
of occurence; prospecting, clearing of the land, stripping
mining, transportation to the washing plant, washing
3b1bid., p. 12.
36News Item in the Polk County Democrat, August 31,
flotation, concentration, drying, grinding, and shipping
of the finished product.37
The mining begins by removing the 10 to 50 feet of
"overburden," largely consisting of sand and clay which
cover the strata of phosphate ore and then digging the
ore and dumping it into a well or pump. From here it is
sluiced with streams of high pressure water to the
suction of a large pump and then transported through pipe
lines to the washing plants which may be a mile or more
away. At a large mine such as Noralyn the pump will move
8,000 gallons a minute through a 16 inch diameter pipe
line. This means 1,000 or more tons of phosphate ore per
hour is transported from mine to washer.38
Washing is a process of screening the ore, now com-
bined with water and referred to as "slurry*, This process
separates the clay and sand, and fine phosphate which is
retained on the screens. This pebble is then scrubbed
free of adhering clay and sand, screened again and placed
in bins. From these bins it is loaded into railroad cars
for shipment to the drying plant. Prior to the discovery
Ibidp., p. 14.
38Bulletin 556, Bureau of Mines Mineral Facts and
Problems, 1956, p. 774.
of the flotation process, this pebble fraction was all
that could be recovered. Now additional recovery of the
fine phsophate removed in washing is possible. As a
preparatory step for flotation the clay, sand, and fine
phosphate flow by gravity to a large settling tank called
a "hydroseparator', There the clay overflows; the
phosphate and sand settle to the bottom. The clay slime
is pumped or flows by gravity to large settling areas,
generally mined-out pits. The disposal of millions of
tons of waste slime in such a way as to avoid stream pol-
lution is one of the big day-to-day problems of the
Flotation concentration begins as the material is
transported into the plant by an endless conveyor belt
and then thoroughly mixed with prescribed amounts of
caustic soda, fuel oil, kerosene, and tall oil. Water
is then added and the resulting mixture flows into flo-
tation machines. Upon the admission of air, the mixture
is subjected to violent mechanical agitation which serves
to keep the phosphate and sand in suspension and to
break the air into millions of minute bubbles. As these
arise to the surface, the phosphate particles attach
themselves and are carried upward much as a balloon would
39bid., p. 775.
ascend with a basket in the atmosphere. The phosphate
accumulates as a soapy froth on the surface, is scraped
off with revolving paddles and moves on to a collecting
tank. This process may be repeated for improved recovery
and quality before the phosphate concentrate is ready for
dewatering and transporting to the drying plant.40
Drying is necessary before the product can be
shipped to the customer for two reasons. First, because
the customer's processes generally require a dried
phosphate, and second, to eliminate freight charges on the
10-15 per cent moisture in the undried product. This is
accomplished in large oil-fired rotary dryers, drying as
much as 250 tons an hour,
Since 1894, when it replaced South Carolina,
Florida has consistently produced more phosphate rock than
any other state. During the interval from 1888 to 1953,
inclusive, 167,295,284 long-tons of phosphate have been
mined at a total recorded value at the mines of
$1,185,051,944. During 1952 and 1953, the production
record of the phosphate industry reached new highs, and
continued to overshadow the records of the other mineral
industries of the state. The total quantity of land-
pebble, hard-rock, and soft-rock or colloidal phosphate
401bid., p. 775.
that was sold or used by producers reached 8,781,125 long
tons in 1952, and 9,166,855 long tons in 1953. The value
at the mines as reported by the producing companies for
these quantities of raw phosphate rock amounted to
$51,541,799 in 1952 and $55,612,272 in 1953. The major
portion of the production comes from the land-pebble
district in Polk and Hillsborough counties, but small
quantities of hard-rock phosphate were mined in Citrus
county and colloidal phosphates were produced in Citrus,
Columbis, Gilchrist and Marion counties.41
The most important development in the phosphate
industry during the past few years was the research that
led to the commercial production of uranium from phosphate
rock. Records indicate that uranium has been known since
1908 as a very minor component of the extensive Florida
phosphate deposits. Only recently, however, methods of
recovery of these small quantities of uranium, amounting
approximately from 3 to 6 ounces per ton, have been
developed and demonstrated to be commercially feasible.
The United States Geological Survey, in cooperation with
the Atomic Energy Commission, has been making detailed
investigations of the land-pebble phosphate deposits
41Eleventh Biennial Re ort of the Florida
Geographical Survey. Forda Mneral Industry During 1952
and 1953, p4 28,
since 1947. Five companies have plants in which uranium
is recovered from phosphoric and as a by-product in the
process of manufacturing phosphate chemicals and con-
centrated commercial fertilizer. The International
Corporation (Bartow) and the Virginia-Carolina Chemical
Corporation (Nichols) have each had uranium extraction
units in production for some time. The U. S. Phosphoric
Products Division, Tennessee Corporation (Tampa) is con-
structing facilities for the recovery of by-product
uranium. Two plants located outside of Florida are
recovering uranium from Florida material. These are the
Blackson Chemical Company, Joliet, Illinois, and the
Texas City Chemicals, Inc., Texas City, Texas.42
With a constantly growing need for
phosphate rock and a vast reserve from
which to meet this need, an industry has
developed in the United States which
annually produces over 13 million tons 43
of salable phosphate pebble and concentrates.
Limestone is one of Florida's most abundant minerals,
and limestones have a wide areal distribution and form the
foundation rock of the State.44 Limestone is likewise an
4A. Morris, The Florida Handbook, pp. 183 184.
43H. Gunter, "Limestone, Lime, Flint and Cement"
Florida State Geological Survey, Twenty-third, Twenty-
fourth Annual Report, 193 -932, pp. 39-41.
44News items in the Tampa Morning Tribune,
July 20, 1947.
important contributor to the total value of the mineral
output, especially so during the period of great activity
in road construction. Its earliest use in Florida was as
a building stone, as attested by the stability and dura-
bility of Spanish forts, missions and other structures
build of coquina along the east coast. From early
Spanish days limestone was burned for mortar. More
modern use is that of saving blocks of limestone and using
these in construction of chimneys, from which use the term
"chimney rock" arose. This is especially true of the rock
in the Marianna section and in more limited areas of the
The state is underlain by a series of limestones
of tertiary age that form an extensive ground-water
reservoir several hundred feet in thickness. Because of
the prevailing flat topography of the state, and the
porous and often cavernous natures of these formations,
conditions for recharge are favorable. It is estimated
that perhaps 25 per cent of the state's annual rainfall
of 52.7 inches may find its way into these subterranean
455ndustrial Florida," Florida State Department
of Agriculture, p. 7.
More recently the use of Florida limestone for
building and for ornamentation has widened and grown de-
cidely. The greater part of the production of limestone
in Florida is used in the construction of roads and
streets. Considerable quantities of the limestone are
crushed and used as railroad ballast, aggregate in con-
crete and for road surfacing in place of slag. A less
important use is as a fertilizer or soil conditioner for
which it is finely ground.46
Florida has also one cement utilizing limestone
of the Tampa formation. Portland cement has been produced
in Florida for 25 years by the Florida Portland Cement
Division, (Tampa) of the General Portland Cement Company,
Chicago, Illinois, This plant began production in 1927
and periodically increased its capacity to 4,000,000
barrels annually. The plant utilized limestone quarried
from mear Brooksville, Hernando County for many years.
In 1954 a new quarry was opened in southern Citrus County.
The company also produces clay from a locality in
southern Citrus County.47
46S. Mossom, Preliminary Report on the Limestone
and Marls of Florida, pp. 41-44.
In 1951, the Lehigh Portland Cement Company began
the construction of a cement mill on the east coast of
Florida near Bunnell. This plant has an initial capacity
of 1,400,000 barrels annually and production began
during December 1952. During the summer of 1954, and
expansion program was announced. It was completed in the
summer of 1955 which increased the plant capacity to
about 2,500,00 barrels. Coquina shell is quarried ad-
jacent to the mill to supply the calcium carbonate.
This is the first extensive use of coquina. Another
unique feature in the use of the raw product is that, in
place of the usual argillaceous material furnished in
the form of clay, the mineral staurolite supplies the
alumina and a portion of the iron necessary in the
manufacturing process. The staurolite residue is obtained
from the E. I. DuPont de Nemours Company's heavy mineral
separation plant near Starke. Although small quantities
of staurolite have been used as an abrasive in sand-
blasting, its use in manufacturing of Portalnd Cement
marks the first important commercial utilization of the
The production of limestone in Florida reached a
peak in 1926, when the total reported output reached
48Eleventh Biennial Report, pp. 9 10.
-. 11* 4. 1 1.,.
6,572,870 tons, valued at $7,177,568, but has since
steadily declined owing to the slackening of road build-
ing and other construction. The decline in production
during the five-year period, 1926-1931, has amounted to
about 80 per cent in quantity and 83 per cent in value.
The reported production in 1930 was 1,219,214. The
production of lime reached its peak in 1925 and the total
for 1931 amounted to a reduction of about 60 per cent
of that for the year 1925.49 The limestone industry
excluding limestone used in manufacturing cement of lime,
enjoyed its greatest year, 1953 in the State's history.50
Limestone production recorded a new all time high
in 1955, exceeding the record established in 1954 by two
million tons and nearly four and one-half dollars.
Crushed limestone produced in 1954 amounted to 14,225,000
tons valued at $16,832,000 whereas the 1955 production
totaled 16,303,000 tons valued at $21,312,000. Crushed
limestone enters into road and highway construction not
only as road material and aggregate for concrete but also
49Mossom, o.. cit., pp. 41-42.
50Bureau of Mines Mineral Yearbook. The Mineral
Industry Flor iaa VITIII 1953 p. 4.
as the base material on which the highway is constructed.
These, together with concrete products and structual
uses, consume by far the greatest proportion of the lime-
stone produced in the State.51
The uses of limestone and the commercial prepara-
tions derived from it are numerous and varied. Some of
the more important applications of this great natural
resource are the followings
Road Material, Crushed limestone is extensively
used in road construction, both as a base and as surfac-
ing material. In Florida, where soft limestone are very
abundant and harder limestone somewhat rare, the common
practice is to construct the foundation of soft pure
limestone finely ground so that when it is dampened and
rolled it will set in a hard uniform mass, leaving the
minimum number of voids. This base is then treated with
oil and a hard surface put on. The surface may be of
several kinds --asphalt, penetration or hard limestone
alone will stand up under ordinary traffic reasonably
well for a limited time, but after that will disintegrate
rapidly. Maintenance costs are high and the practice not
satisfactory, for hollows and ruts started by traffic
5Twelfth Biennial Report, Commission of
Agriculture, p. 10.
are enlarged by rainfall and wash and then hardened.
If these worn places are patched with either soft or
hard limestones the newly laid material has no chance
to cement and is soon worn away, leaving the road in as
bad condition as ever. In this type surfacing inlaid
rolled limestone or slag is used, sandwiched between
bituminous binders to cap the soft limestone base.52
Limestone is much used as a coarse aggregate
for work; the size of the material depends naturally on
the character or work in which the material is to be
used. Usually the rock is graded from material that will
pass a two and one-half inch mesh to that which will rest
on a one-half inch. There are many deposits of limestone
in Florida that meet the requirements.53
Several different Florida limestones have proven
quite adaptable for railroad ballasting. The Miami
Oolite from Ojus, the Key Largo Limestone, Glendon lime-
stone from Lyle quarry north of Live Oak, the Ocala
Rock from Crystal River and the Tampa limestone from
Brooksville have been successfully employed for this pur-
2Mossom, o2. cit., p. 12.
531bid., p. 13.
Florida limestone is famous for its adaptability
as a building stone, Nevertheless, considerable use, as
well as financial gain, has been made of the native rock
in this State, though this use has in most instances been
restricted to small farm building and outhouses. Notable
exception to the generalization is the Old Spanish fort
at St. Augustine, constructed of coquina.
The Jacksonville plant of Humphreys Gold Corporation
operating under leases from National Lead Company and
Rutile Mining Company of Florida, recovers rutile, ilmenite,
zircon, and monazite from an ancient beach deposit con-
training about 2.5 per cent of these minerals in combination.
The location of the plant is unique,,being situated about
ten miles from the center of Jacksonville, Florida,
surrounded by a thriving suburb.
This is one of two mines producing titanium minerals
and zircon in Florida. Another mine is also operated by
Humphreys at Starke, Florida, about 50 miles south-west
The Jacksonville deposit extends about six miles
in a north-south direction averaging approximately one-half
J. C. Detweiler, "Jacksonville Plant Produces
Titanium from Beach Deposit', Mining Engineering, June,
1952, pp. 2-3.
mile wide and twenty feet thick. Values begin at the
surface over most of its length and terminate in a layer
of clay at the bottom horizon. To the south it plunges
beneath the surface and is covered with about twenty feet
of over-burden. About 2Y miles of northern end are
covered by this operation. The sand contains 4 per cent
minerals, of which 40 per cent is ilmenite, 4 per cent
leucoxene, 7 per cent rutile, 11 per cent zircon, and
less than 0.5 per cent monazite.55
The first operation on this deposit was by the
Titanium Alloy Manufacturing Company, a division of
National Lead Company and its subsidiary, Rutile Mining
Company of Florida. They erected a dry mill containing
electrostatic and electromagnetic equipment for the
separation of ilmenite and rutile from bulk concentrate
produced in a wet plant. The wet plant was equipped with
tables to treat part of the feed, and flotation to treat
the balance. Both methods were unsuccessful in produc-
ing at a satisfactory rate of recovery. In 1944
Humphreys Spiral Concentrators were developed for bulk
concentrate production. Output was increased, mining
methods improved, and a unit installed for the recovery
of zircon during 1944 and 1945. These changes made it
possible for the plant to continue in competition with
foreign ores after the last war.56
Deposits of ilmenite are being worked by other
companies in New York and Virginia. More recently what
may prove to be the world's largest source of ilmenite
has been discovered in Canada and is being developed by
Kennecott Copper Corporation and New Jersey Zinc Company.
All these sources will assure the American
titanium industry an adequate domestic source of supply
and free it of its dependence upon oversea sources.
Whatever attractions Florida presents today, aside
from the shelter which the hand of man has provided,
existed in Florida since the day the peninsula was dis-
Hampered in her growth by the ingrown belief among
the residents of her sister states that Florida presented
only a winter playground for the wealthy, hindered in her
development by lack of transportation and by lack of under-
standing of her resources, the rise to fame and fortune
which Florida should have achieved generations ago has
been delayed until the present era.
56b id., p. 3.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF MINING IN FLORIDA
The type of labor essential to phosphate production
has changed in recent years. Prior to the production of
elemental phosphorus, the labor force for the most part
was unskilled. The production of elemental phosphorus
called for a more highly skilled labor force.57 It was
necessary to import or train skilled laborers.
The International Phosphate Industry which employs
between 4,000 and 5,000 reports that they have no import-
ed workers (skilled and unskilled). The International
Minerals and Chemical Corporation has a Summer School
which is held in North Carolina. This School is under
the auspices of another branch of the corporation. The
institution trains employees for the mining department.
E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Company of Starke,
Florida reports 80 imported employees. This is about 5
per cent of all employees. Imported labor is not
A letter to this investigator from H.A. Nelson
indicates that extent to which local labor is used in
7H.M. Rose, The Phosphate Industry of Maury County,
Tennessee, pp. 71-75.
this company, Mr. Nelson has the following to say:
S. We have developed a number of our mechanics
from the local employees and over the past ten
years many of them have learned to weld, etc., on
this location. Only rarely do we have to advertise
for skilled mechanics such as electricians, etc.,
in non-local newspapers because we enjoy a good
reputation in this area for paying good wages,
provide good working conditions and above all,
treat employees fair and as individuals.58
Pebble phosphate was discovered in Central Florida
in 1886 and for several years, there was wild speculation
in land and stocks not unlike the Gold Rush days of the
early west. Spotty river deposits were mined first, and
then about 1890 operations moved to the more uniform,
richer land pebble beds.
Early operations were characterized by crude
methods, poor recoveries, and high costs which caused
numerous companies to fail. Consolidation was essential
for economic survival. Pick, shovel, and wheelbarrow
gave way to mule and scraper mining which was soon re-
placed by steam shovels, and later electric draglines.
The capital required to engage in the industry was
small. The only equipment needed was a pick and shovel
and a small tract of phosphate-bearing land. This re-
sulted in a large number of small companies engaging in
-- -- IIIII~
58Personal Correspondence with the Author, letter
from H.A. Nelson, Employee Relations Director, E. I.
DuPont de Nemours and Company, Starke, Florida, July 2,1957.
mining activities. Their policy was to undersell the
In 1910, the number of small operators was reduced
by the purchase of small companies by large, integrated
corporations. With the advent of the larger companies,
the size of the plant became larger and the use of
machinery was accelerated.
Competition for the domestic market occurred at the
outbreak of World War I, between Tennessee and Florida.
Prior to this time, Florida was primarily dependent upon
an export market. Florida was able to compete with the
Tennessee market because of its cheapness of production,
and its early start as a producer and its accessibility
to water transportation.59
Florida minerals, from abrasives to zircon, totaled
$106,516,613 in value at the mines in 1954, the last year
for which figures are available. The state's minerals are
among its most important resources and research in recent
years has found new uses, especially for jetage metals,
which will add further value to them. The increase in
value from 1953 to 1954 was 15 per cent, as stated by the
Florida State Chamber of Commerce.
Florida's chief and best known mineral is phosphate,
59 Ibid., p. 75.
with 1954 sales amounting to 10,437,197 long tons at
$64,499,877. Florida has produced over 75 per cent of
the national out-put in recent years.
Crushed limestone, Florida's second ranking
mineral in quantity exceeded phosphate in volume in 1954
and sold for $16,832,066. Sand and gravel production
of 3,468,842 short tons sold for $2,661,152. Clay
including kaolin and Fuller's earth, amounted to 371,948
short tons worth $3,337,130; peat brought $168,004 and
natural gas $2,900. The so-called "rare" earths pro-
duced were 157,157 short tons of ilmenite at $2,411,823;
a total of 7,305 short tons of rutile at $869,677 and
17,959 short tons of zircon at $820,041.
Other minerals, of which cement is the most
important, totaled to avoid disclosure of individual
operations, were worth $14,913,943. This figure also
includes the values of peat, dimension-limestone and
60Editorial in the Weekly Business Review,
November 1, 1956.
Table I shows the yearly increase in value at
mines of all of Florida's mineral products and phosphate.
From these figures, it is easily seen that phosphate is
the major mineral product.
Value at Mines
Value at Mines
Source: Allen Morris, The Florida Handbook, 1954
The fact that a living wage is earned by mining
employees is evidenced by information from H. A. Nelson,
Employee Relations Director, E. I. DuPont de Nemours and
Company. He states that the hourly wage is $73.83 per
week. As the workers are unionized, it is necessary
I I li ll .. ... 1 I
that payments by other companies be on par with this
figure, as shown in Table II.
AVERAGE SALARY OF WAGE EARNERS AT
TRAIL RIDGE AND HIGHLAND PLANTS
Average monthly hourly
Average straight time
hourly rate...............$2 per hr.
Average overtime hours
$2 per hr.
Source: H. A. Nelson, Employee Relations Director,
E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Company.
In addition to the hourly roll employees they have
approximately 35 non-exempt salary roll employees, mostly
as local people. The non-exempt and exempt salary roll
employees are not included in the hourly roll information
The deposit at Jacksonville was discovered by
George Pritchard of Jacksonville Beach, who interested
Titanium Alloy Manufacturing Company of Niagara Falls,
- -- --
New York. This company formed Rutile Mining Company and
set up an operation on the deposit in the late 30's.
Humphreys Gold Corporation took the operation over in
1942, perfected a system of extracting the desired
minerals, and has operated it since. During this period
National Lead Company acquired Titanium Alloy Manufacturing
Company and its subsidiary, Rutile Mining Company.
Humphreys Gold Corporation acts as a contract miner. All
the mineral products are shipped to National Lead Company.61
It was about 50 years ago that farmers began to
realize the importance of soil fertilization to their crops,
particularly in the mineral starved lands of the south.
Many small plant food manufacturing firms went into
business then. Among them was International Agricultural
Corporation, founded in 1909. It grew rapidly into one
of the leading companies in the industry. In those days,
International built its reputation on two products,
phosphate and mixed chemical fertilizer (plant food) but
has since branched out into potash, potash chemicals,
food seasoning, pharmaceuticals, clays, feldspar, and
other industrial minerals.
61Personal Correspondence with the Author, letter
from Jay P. Wood, Vice President, Humphreys Gold
Corporation, Jacksonville, Florida, June 15, 1957.
Expansion-minded even then the company invested
in phosphate lands in Florida and Tennessee. In 1941,
the company's name was changed to International Minerals
and Chemical Corporation to describe more accurately
the diversified nature of its products as it expanded
more and more into the mineral and chemical industries.
World conditions have played an important part in
International's business. When shipping conditions and
strikes curtailed phosphate rock export to Europe during
World War I domestic attention focused on chemical uses
for phosphate. Discoveries made at that time, which led
to hundreds of industrial uses for phosphoric acid, laid
the cornerstone for our activity in phosphate chemicals
today. Also during World War I, domestic attention
focused on chemical uses for phosphate. Discoveries
made at that time, which led to hundreds of industrial
uses for phosphoric acid, laid the cornerstone for our
activity in phosphate chemicals today. Also during
World War I, the shortage of potash, an imported com-
modity vitally necessary to the war effort, forced our
country's interest in developing its own resources of
this important mineral. International moved to win a
share of this business and by 1941 had purchased and
constructed plants and mines at the potash deposits
located near Charlbad, New Mexico.62
For a number of years scientists and engineers
have searched continuously for a material of construction
which would be light in weight, and have strength compa-
rable to steel. Titanium is an excellent candidate to
meet this need. The metal has a specific gravity of
4.5 and in commercial purity exhibits strength comparable
to many steels. The early work on its alloys presages
materials of construction of greater strength to weight
ratio than are presently available. Since the metal has
shown unusual corrosion resistance, particularly to salt
water, it has an added advantage over many conventional
materials of construction.
On September 14, 1948 the Pigments Department of
E. I. duPont de Nemours and Company (Inc.) announced the
first commercial operation to extract the metal from its
ores. The plant was of pilot unit size with a maximum
daily capacity of one hundred pounds of metal. Two
additional pilot units were constructed and put into
operation during 1949 and 1950, boasting duPont production
62Phosphate Vital to Life", International Minerals
and Chemical Corporation, p. 13.
from 500 pounds in 1948 to 55 tons in 1950, During
1951 the fourth largest unit began production, raising
output for the company during this year to about 400
tons. During 1952 this plant attained a production rate
of 22 tons per day and annual production reached 700 tons.
During 1954 total capacity was raised to 10 tons per day.
Because the winning of titanium from its ores is
based on chemical processing, the duPont Company has
maintained as its first interest the production of the
primary form of titanium, namely, sponge metal. Since
the inception of research on the production of titanium
metal by the duPont Company in 1946, the major research
effort has been directed toward improvement of existing
processes and developments have been made in the manu-
facturing process since 1948 which allow the production
of consistently good quality metal in greater than ton
The early production of the duPont Company made
available titanium metal in sufficient quantity to allow
many commercial and university laboratories to carry on
application research, and to develop titanium alloys of
6Employee Relations Department E. I. DuPont de
Nemours and Company, Inc., January 22, 1957, Sarke,
Florida, p. ,
PRESENT STATUS AND FUTURE OUTLOOK
OF THE MINERAL INDUSTRY
The complex mechanical and scientific methods used
to recover ores from Florida sands are a far cry from the
hopes of the early explorers to pick up nuggets of gold
by hand. The skill needed to conduct such operation and
the heavy machinery needed in such operations indicate
that heavy industry is moving into what has been an
agricultural state. Here follows a general description
of some of the processes used in extracting ores from
Florida sands. It may be noted that water plays a large
part in the first steps of redemption of both metals and
There are no known primary metalliferous deposits
in the State. titanium (Ilmenite and Rutile Concentrate)
Production of titanium minerals came from stablized dunes
in Brevard, Indian River, Clay and Duval counties.64
Mining has been conducted for the most part by suction
dredges, although draglines have also been in use. The
"heavy* sand content of the deposits averages less than 5
64*The Mineral Industry of Florida", Bureau of
Mines Yearbook, Vol. III, p. 2.
per cent and consists of mineral other than ilmenite and
rutile. Concentration was by gravity "spirals" and
mineral separation by electrical and magnetic methods.
Ilmenite-Titanium is estimated to be the fourth
most plentiful structural metal in the earth's crust.
Although it is widespread in the United States and
throughout the world, only a few ores are commercially
useful under present technology. Ilmenite--one of the
minerals found in titaniferous ores is the major raw
material for the production of titanium dioxide pigment.
Before World War II India supplied United States consumers
with most of their war disruption of seaborne trade and
gave impetus to the search for alternate domestic sources,
with the result that new domestic deposits were developed,
thereby reducing reliance on imports considerably.65
The successful exploitation of Florida sand
deposits, containing about 4 per cent heavy minerals as
compared to Indian sands containing 75 per cent heavy
minerals, is possible because cheap mining by dredging can
be employed and rapid concentration is obtained by using
the Humphreys-Spiral Concentrator.
A modified core drill, developed in cooperation with
5Bulletin 556 Bureau of Mines Mineral Facts
and Problems, 1956, p. 905.
the Bureau of Mines, E. I. duPont de Nemours Co., Inc.,
and Humphreys Spiral Corp, of Denver; was used in
exploring the sand deposits in Florida. Bureau of Mines
drilling investigations disclosed an important heavy-
sand concentration at Trail Ridge. Subsequently this area
was mined by duPont for titanium minerals and in 1954 was
the second largest section producing ilmenite in the
United States. Deposits found in Florida contained an
average of about 4 per cent heavy minerals of which about
40 per cent is ilmenits, 4 per cent leucoxene, 7 per cent
rutile, 11 per cent zircon, and less than 0.5 per cent
Manufacture of titanium dioxide pigment requires
a costly plant, special location, plenty of water, large
steam facilities, and large supplies of ilmenite and
sulfuric acid. Before World War II it was estimated that
the plant cost for each tone of daily production would
be $100,000 by 1954 the cost had doubled. The location
of the plant is highly important because of the need for
ample facilities to dispose of waste products, such as
iron sulfate, weak acids, and ilmenite residues. The
operation also causes considerable air pollution. A
66Ibid., pp. 904-910.
location far as possible from residential areas and with
ample facilities to dispose of highly acid residues is
During the period 1940 to 1954, the ilmenite pro-
duction established a high record in Florida. Preliminary
data indicated that the high record was exceeded slightly
in 1954. Factors that contributed to lower production
of ilmenite in 1952 and 1953 were in activity of the
Yodkin Mica and Ilmenite Co., Finley, North Carolina, which
ceased operations in October, 1952, and increased imports
of Canadian titanium.
Of the estimated production 546,000 short tons of
ilmenite in 1954, New York supplied over half and Florida
about a third; the remainder came from Virginia and
The titanium-pigment industry which included 4
companies with 7 plants and 5 mines was concentrated in
the eastern part of the United States.
67Ibid., p. 912.
Titanium pigments were produced in 1954 by the following
Company Plant Mines
American Cyananid Co, Baltimore, Md. Piney River,
Pigments Va., Caldwell
Metal Division County,
E. I. duPont de Nemours Baltimore, Md. Trail Ridge
Edge Moor, Del Mine,
National Lead Co. St. Louis, Mo. Tabauric, N. Y.
Sayreville, N.J. Jacksonville,
About 99 per cent of all the ilmenite consumed in
1953 and in several proceeding years has gone into the
manufacture of titanium dioxide for pigments. About 75 per
cent of the titanium pigments was used in the paint, enamel,
and lacquer industries, and the remainder went into paper,
rubber, floor coverings, coated fabrics, textiles, printing
ink and other miscellaneous commodities. The other per
cent of ilmenite was used in making titanium alloys, carbide,
and welding--rod castings.
Uranium was discovered by M. H. Klaproth in 1789
during his investigation of the mineral pitchblends and
was named after the planet Uranus. It was 53 years later,
68hIbd., p. 915.
however, before E, Peliget prepared metallic uranium in
laboratory experiments. Uranium is one of the heaviest
metals, is hard, and appears nickel white, its atomic
number is 92 and atomic weight 238.07.69 Records in-
dicate that uranium has been known since 1908 as a very
minor component of the extensive Florida phosphate
In September 1954, the Engineering and Mining
Journal announced the names of what it said were the four
plants recovering uranium concentrates. Small quantities
of uranium concentrates are being recovered from Florida
phosphate material by solvent extraction and precipitation
methods. Uranium occurs with the mineral flourapatite
in the economic land pebble phosphate deposits of the
Plant City, Bartow and Lakeland district of West Central
Florida companies actively engaged in the recovery of low
grade uranium from phosphate material as a by-product
during the course of their normal activities in the pro-
Thorium was discovered by Berzelium in 1829.
While working with a black mineral known as thorite from
the island of Loyo, Norway, he came upon a new earth
which he called "thoria," after the God Thor.71
69Ibid., p. 949.
701bid., p. 978.
7Ibid., p. 948.
Metallic thorium is soft, and similar to annealed
copper in hardness, or in very pure form, similar to
lead. The commercial metal is produced as a powder which
is fabricated into solid metal by powder-metallurgy
practice. Thorium has an atomic weight of 232.12 and an
atomic number of 90.
Thorium is at present in at least 100 minerals in
proportions ranging from traces up to about 70 per cent.
The element is not found in the native state, but its
silicate is one of the most important of thorium minerals--
thorite. Most commercial thorium, however, is obtained
from the mineral monazite--a phosphate of rare earth con-
training from less than 1 per cent to 15 per cent thoria.7
Monazite occurs in the form of sand derived from
the weathering of granites, and pegmatite in which it
occurs as primary mineral, In the United State, monazite
has been produced in North and South Carolina, Florida
and Idaho. Present and ancient beach sands along and near
the east coast of Florida have been mined for some years
for their content of ilmenite, rutile, and zircon and
these sands also contain a small percentage of monazite,
which evidently was transported to Florida by ancient
streams that drained southeastward from the Carolinas, and
721bid., p. 878,
by shore currents.
From the standpoint of the utilization of thorium
for the production of power the breeding process is an
important problem that confronts the Atomic Energy
Commission and organizations interested in developing
peaceful uses for nuclear energy.73
Zirconium is the metal that made possible the
Navy's atomic powered submarine, Nautilus. Zirconium,
in the form of oxide was discovered by Klaproth in 1789;
it was not, however, until 1914 that the metal was
obtained.74 Zircon is a common constituent of river
gravels and beach sands because it is hard and resists
erosion. Beach sands are the principal source of zircon
where it is recovered as a coproduct of ilmenite, rutile,
Zirconium ore is produced commercially in five
countries: United States, Australia, Brazil, French
West Africa, and India. The principal mines in the United
States are along the eastern coast of Florida, where
zircon with ilmenite, rutile and monazite, is recovered
from beach sands.
73Ibid., p. 881.
74Ibid,. p. 1005.
As nearly as has been established, the earliest
test for oil in Florida was about 1900 or 1901, at
Pensacola, Escambia County, This well was drilled by
the Escambia Oil Company at the foot of Palafox Street
to a depth of 1,320 feet. Apparently this rig was then
sold to another local company, Pensacola Development
Company and two wells were drilled; No. 1 about five miles
west of Pensacola in what is now New Warrington and No. 2
on East Hill in Pensacola at the intersection of Tenth
Avenue and Mallory Street. These wells attained depths
of 1,702 and 1,620 feet respectively,
Upon completion of these wells prospecting con-
tinued in the State for approximately the next forty years
at times very actively and other times inactively. While
some of the drilling was prompted by genuine desire to
discover oil or gas, other attempts were highly pro-
motionary. Some 75 wildcat wells were drilled of which
57 were less than 3,000 feet deep. Ten were from 3,000
to 5,000 feet; 7 from 10,000 feet and one 10,006 feet.
This last well was abandoned May 27, 1939, and was the
first well in Florida to have reached such a depth.
It was drilled by the Peninsular Oil and Regining Company
near Pinecrest, Monroe County, under the supervision of
Robert B. Campbell, geologist. This well appropriately
marks the turning point in oil exploration in Florida.
It was the first to attain exceptional depth and the
company drilling it was a subsidiary of the Humble Oil
and Refining Company, a company has played a significant
part in oil exploration and development in Florida.
Following the abandonment of the well at
Pensacola in 1939, there began a sustained leasing ac-
tivity and drilling of test well in different parts of
Florida. The Humble Oil and Refining Company brought in
the first oil producing well in Florida on September 26,
1943 at Sunniland, Collier County. This was designated
the Gulf Coast Realities Corporation No. 1. This well
has a total depth of 11,626 feet and produced from a
Lower Cretaceous limestone between the depth of 11,600 -
11,626 feet. The initial production was 97 barrels of
salt water. This well continued in production until
June 13, 1946, or for a period of two years and eight
months, when in 1947 it was converted into a salt water
disposal well.75 A total of 13 producing wells have
been developed in the Suniland Field and only one has
been abandoned because of gradual decline and intrusion
of salt water. The 12 wells produced 591,855 barrels of
75Morris, p. cit., p. 187.
oil during 1952 or an average of 135 barrels per day
per well. For the first six months of 1953 the pro-
duction amounted to a total of 268,070 barrels or an
average of early 124 barrels per day per well# To
July 1, 1953, a cumulative total 43,034,539 barrels of
oil was produced from the Sunniland oil field.
Thus far the drilling for the petroleum in the
State can be described as exploratory. Oil company
workers are still searching for and testing methods of
production that may be useful in Florida. The size of
Florida's potential oil resources is a question for the
The development of the mineral industry in
Florida, its continued growth and diversification, is
dependent upon the utilization of materials ordinarily
classified as non-metallic universals. The foremost
non-metals of the State are phosphate, limestone, sand
and gravel of Fuller's earth, kaolin, cement and peat.76
Two special purpose clays are produced in the State;
kaolin, from mines located in Putnam County: and Fuller's
earth from mines in Gadsden County. The Florida plastic
kaolin enters into the ceramic industry where it is a
76Eleventh Biennial Report, Florida Geographical
Survey, p. 8,
standard ingredient in almost all types of white ware
and porcelain. Fuller's earth production has increased
during the past ten years and the development of markets
for absorbents for oily floors and for carriers of in-
secticides and fumgicides have resulted in larger ship-
ments. Consumption of Fuller's earth in mineral oil
refining constitutes the chief use for the material.
Other important uses are vegetable oil clarification and
There has been a tremendous increase in the pro-
duction of minerals and rock materials in Florida and
during recent years the value at the mines and quarries
for these products increased approximately 450 per cent
from 1940 to 1950.
This remarkable expansion was made possible
through an increase in the quantity and value of all
mineral rock and rock products produced. By 1947,
Florida's rank among the states in value of mineral pro-
ducts had increased to twenty-eight and this position has
been maintained through 1950. Florida led all states in
the quantity of phosphate rock; placed second in peat
production and third in Fuller's earth. The principal
mineral products of Florida listed in order of their value
are: phosphate and limestone, cement, sand and gravel.77
771bid, p. 9.
While peat is grouped under fuels, no peat
produced in Florida is mined as a fuel, rather it is
mined and marketed for agricultural uses. The principal
use for peat is as a soil conditioner to improve the
physical characteristics of the soil and to increase the
soil's ability to retain moisture. Peat is also used
as a filler in mixed fertilizers where it acts as a
carrier for the primary plant nutrients: nitrogen,
phosphorus and potash. Florida ranks second among the
states in tonnage and value of peat production. In 1955,
eleven companies located in six counties reported a total
of 61,089 tons valued at $231,829. The acreage of peat
and muck under cultivation amounts to thousands of acres
and this use of peat, while an important factor in its
economic utilization, is not considered in the mining data.
Fourteen counties lie in the known phosphate regions
of the State, Polk produces a large supply of the
world's phosphate. It is followed by Hardee, Manatee,
Hillsborough, Citrus, Sumpter, Marion, Levy, Alachua,
Gilchrist, Dixie, Hamilton, Lake and Clay. All of these
lie in the geological areas already described.78
There are exactly twenty-six known limestone
regions in Florida and the production of lime has shifted
78H. F. Becker, og. cit., p. 109.
in recent years from Marion County to Dade and Hernando
counties. Highway construction and concrete products
consume by far the greater proportion of limestone
produced in Florida, and deposits are known in the follow-
ing regions: Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Levy,
Marion, Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Hillsborough, Manatee,
Sarasota, Jackson, Holmes, Washington, Gadsden, St. Johns,
Flagler, Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin,
Brevard Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade.79
Heavy mineral sands are found where prehistoric
beaches existed. Major producers are: Duval, St. Johns,
Flagler, Volusia, and Citrus. Kaolin can be found in
Santa Rosa, Walton, Washington, Jackson, Clay, Putnam,
Marion, Lake and Polk. Fuller's earth is deposited in
Gadsden, Alachua, and Marion counties.
As yet only one county produces oil. There are
several flowing wells near Sunniland. Production of
natural gas and crude petroleum continued from the
Sunniland field in 1953.80
The abundant reserves of the mineral and rock
resources that are now mined in Florida assures existing
79ibid .. 112
801bid., p. 112.
industries that ample quantities are available to meet
the increased demands brought about by continued growth
of present markets and the demands created by the
development of new uses for these materials. The in-
crease in the quantity of production from 1940 to 1953
was over three-fold for each of the three minerals shown
in Table III, or 223 per cent for phosphate, 235 per
cent for sand and gravel.
The rate of increase in the production of these
rock materials may be antiicpated to become even greater
in the future because new uses will develop to create new
markets, and the increased population of the state and
nation will require expansion of present markets.
Separate from population growth is the unpredictable rate
at which new mineral resources will be discovered and
brought into production.81
Mineral resources of the State that were latent
in 1940 but have since become materials of commerce
include ilmenite, rutile, zircon, garnet, staurolite,
and monazite, all of which are recovered from the heavy
81Florida Mineral Industry Durin 1953 and 1954
Florida Geological Survey, 1950, p.12.
mineral sand deposits; petroleum and natural gas,
discovered in Florida in September, 1943; and by-
products uranium from processing phosphoric acid.82
QUANTITY OF PRODUCTION OF SELECTED FLORID MINERALS
1940 THROUGH 195383
Phosphate Rock Limestone Land & Gravel
Year (long tons) (short tons) (short tons)
1940 2,845,012 2,815,713 1,162,075
1941 3,365,572 4,063,840 1,462,276
1942 3,012,240 6,563,420 1,834,863
1943 3,588,493 8,741,200 1,833,453
1944 3,752,795 2,730,020 1,335,569
1945 4,239,228 2,615,950 1,312,511
1946 5,005,511 2,863,070 1,534,667
1947 6,482,027 3,504,010 2,067,401
1948 6,539,258 4,154,920 2,312,131
1949 6,815,989 4,215,090 2,243,898
1950 8,085,870 5,313,400 2,793,865
1951 8,496,831 8,032,966 4,419,000
1952 8,781,125 7,836,634 4,154,613
1953 9,166,855 9,430,238 3,731,432
In 1950 Florida produced 80 per cent of the
nation's total tonnage of phosphate. Florida is located
near the farming areas of eastern United States where
most of the phosphate is used. In addition, the state
is in a better location to ship to foreign countries.
82ibid., p. 13.
Polk County and Hillsborough county mine most of the
phosphate in the State. However, only about one-eight
of Florida's production is shipped overseas. The larger
amount is shipped by rail either as raw phosphate or
manufactured fertilizers to markets within this country.84
More important reasons for Florida's position as
the leading producer phosphate rock deposits and the fact
that they lie so near the surface that inexpensive mining
methods are possible.
The mining industry has come to the realization
that proper after-treatment and restoration of worked out
areas will be demanded by the general public. Proper
land utilization requires that the natural resources ex-
tracted from the earth be incorporated into the economy
as efficiently as possible. Urban encroachment on
usable deposits may result in the permanent withdrawal of
those materials from the economy of the community. In
order to avoid such waste, it is necessary that planning
boards and other groups that exercise supervision of
industrial development give favorable clarification of
such land for mining purposes. In the Miami area of Dade
County, for example, the limestone producers, working in
84H. F. Becker, op. cit., p. 105.
cooperation with the zoning and planning boards, are de-
veloping quarries according to definite plans and sites
will be left in condition suitable for residential
development. In fact, real estate values are enhanced
and higher values will exist after completion of quarry
operations than existed prior to mining.
An outstanding example of land use in an abandoned
mining area is found in the northern part of St, Johns
County at Ponte Vedra. Following the termination of mining
activities in 1929, the area that had produced rutile,
ilmenite, and other heavy minerals since 1916, was
developed into residential property. Notonly are several
hundred homes situated in the original mining area but the
Ponte Vedra Country Club and golf courses are located on
the "mined-out" portion of the property.
All of the operating companies in the land-pebble
phosphate field are very conscious of the value of
progressive land conservation and have program for uti-
lizing unmined land, as well as realizing return from
mined out properties. Land owner-ship by the major
companies totals more than 300,00 acres in Polk and
Hillsborough counties. Portions of the prospected areas
and the mined-out areas are being operated as tree farms
and pastures. One company has over 40,00 acres under
an intensive forestry program and selective cuttings
have been made on the slash pines that were planted in
1939. New plantings by that company are being made at
the rate of one-half million trees per year, and a
total of more than 4 million trees have been planted.
Other land-use practices by the phosphate companies
include the establishment of recreational areas and the
conversion of mined out pits into lakes that may be
stocked with fish.
In 1956, one company entered into a large-scale
land reclamation program that will extend over a five-
year period. During the life of the project, a tract
consisting of 700 acres located on the south of
Lakeland will be reclaimed for residential use. As in
the example of land reclamation completed in 1942 at
Ponte Vedra, and that underway in the Miami area, the
creation of enhanced surface value of real estate is
being accomplished with the cooperation of planning
groups and the mining companies.85
8Twelfth Biennial Report, of the Commission of
Agriculture, p. 6.
New products and new uses create and expanding
demand for materials. For example, the use of Fuller's
Earth as an absorbent for oily floors began in 1943 and
for a carrier of insecticide in 1945. These new markets
consume nearly one-half of the Fuller's Earth that is
produced currently. New or expanded markets for common
materials such as utilization of clay in the manufacture
of light weight aggregate and dolomite in the manu-
facture of mineral wool, await development. The dis-
covery and production of petroleum and natural gas in
quantity will make possible the establishment of many
industries, including glass manufacture; chemical in-
dustries based on brines and abundant reserves of pure
limestone; and the utilization of aluminum phosphate
portion of the overburden that is now discarded in the
mining of phosphate pebble.
The building of several new plants in the
phosphate district indicates not only the adoption of
improved refining practices but also new developments
in the national program of the Atomic Energy Commission.
Records indicate that uranium has been known as a very
minor component (about 3 to 6 ounces per ton) of the
extensive Florida phosphate deposits since 1924.
The United State Geological Survey in cooperation
with the Atomic Energy Commission, has been making
detailed investigations of the phosphate deposits since
1947. Progress in these studies has resulted in
governmental approval to several mining companies to
build plants in Florida for the recovery of uranium as
a by product in the manufacturing of phosphate chemicals
and concentrated commercial fertilizers.86 Since the
factual details about the uranium content of the land-
pebble phosphate and the methods of recovery are secret
information, and accurate statement concerning possible
production cannot be made. However, it seems clear that
Florida's uranium contribution to the atomic energy
program will be substantial.
Monazite is one of the heavy mineral concentrates
found in Florida. In the complex chemical makeup of
monazite, varying quantities of thorium--a potential
source of fissionable material are found. The Atomic
Energy Commission has subjected this whole group or rare
earth elements to intensive scientific study.
Floridais not only growing in population, but it
is growing in wealth, in education, and in the economic
86Becker, o. cit., pp. 111-112.
advancement of its people. The increased production of
the industries and plants of the State means that many
people have more food, better homes, a greater variety of
clothing. All the things that make up what is called
'a higher standard of living.,
Technological developments in mining have not
only affected industries but transportation, banking, and
other aspects of economic life as well as social progress.
According to the International Dragline:
University scholarships are awarded annually;
service awards are given to workers; off the job recre-
ation; sports and social events are provided for by the
Such things as insurance, disability benefits;
paid holidays; educational refunds and retirement privi-
leges are enjoyed by the Florida employees. In the case
of retirement an employee receives an average monthly
benefit of 47.46 above his salary. Within the Florida
Department rotating schedules provide opportunity for
a well-balanced life, including work, social and
The industry also provides such facilities as
International Parks for their employees, their families
and guests. Many of the miners both skilled and unskilled
laborers have educated their families and bought real
estate because of a good income from this industry,
Industry has discovered Florida and because of
this modern homes are being built in what were once
rural area; fine churches; new schools; and hospitals;
are being established because of industrail payrolls
assuring certain areas of Florida of a well-rounded in-
Time was when the Floridian lived in a land of
bountiful raw materials and scarcely noticed them. Today,
however, he is wise to his state's potentials and is
quick to point them out to prospective developers from the
North or East.
The phenomenal growth of Florida from 1920 to
1950 in population has influenced a similar growth in every
segment of the variegated economy. The economy of any
region consists of its people, its resources and what the
people do with the resources that are available to them.
That more and more people are finding the "Sunshine
State* a good place in which towork and do business is
shown by the way the population has grown. Economic
progress since 1930, when total income payments were six
hundred thirty-five million dollars to three billion
three hundred seventy-six million dollars in 1950, an
increase of over four hundred per cent in twenty years is
The income payments of Floridians are derived from
principal sources (tourist, agriculture, mining, etc.)
Most of the income is derived from the development of the
natural resources and the.people of Florida have within
the last thirty years capitalized on the advantages of
climate and geographical location, converting the soil
into higher and higher income.
Any way one looks at it, theSouth is becoming an
industrial powerhouse and Florida is well on its way to
becoming a front line dynamo.88
87Dovell, op. cit., p. 822.
88Florida State Department of Agriculture. "Industrial
Athanase, George Alfred T. Chronicles of Florida -
Norfolk: John Barcroft Publishers, 1907
Becker, Henry F., et al Florida Wealth o Waste?
Florida: Florida State Department of Educat ,
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Washington: United S7ttes Government Printing OfTice,
Davis, Frederick T., History of Juan Ponce de Leon's
Voyages to Florida Source'"Records, 15.
Department of Navy Report of Symposium on Titanium -
Washington: Office ofNaval Research, 1 9.
Dovell, James E., Florida: Historic, Dramatic, Contemporary-
New York: Lewis Historicalt Publihing Company, Inc.,
Editorial in the Tampa Morning Tribune, October 12, 1947.
Editorial in the FloridaBTimes Union, Trade Edition,
April 14, 1890.
Fairbanks, George F., History of Florida Philadelphia:
J. P. Lippincott Company, 19035
Florida Mineral Industry During 1952 53 Reprinted
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Florida State Department of Agriculture, Industrial
Florida, Tallahassee, Florida, 1954.
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Charles Renard Corp, 01925
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_____Florida Geological Survey Florida: 1928.
Hanna, Kathryn Florida Land of Change Chapel Hill:
University of tthn Uarolln rressf, 1941.
Hansen, Harry The World Almanac and Book of Facts -
New York: New York9k Wod Telegram, 195i 7
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Phosphate Divisions, The International Dragline,
Jameson Franklin Original Narrative of Early e an
History New York: Charles Scribner ons, 907.
Marine, Florian The Story of Ponce de Leon Florida:
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The Florid Handbook Tallahassee:
Peninsula Puishing C'ompany, 1955.
Mossom, Stuart, A Preliminary Reort on the Limestone
and Marls of Florida, March, 92 6. .
Reynolds, James, The Landing of Ponce de Leon -
Historical Review Mountain akes, New Jersey, 1934.
Rose, Harold M. The Phosphate Industry of Maur
County, Tennesseee (Unpublished Master's'ThesIs
Ohio State University, 1954.
Sellards, Henry, E. Geologic Sections Across the
Everglades of Florida 12th Annual Report of the
Florida State Geological Survey, 1919.
12th Biennial Report of the Commission
of Agriculture, 1913,
Shelton, Stephen and Others Bulletin 561, Bureau of
Mines Washington: United States Government Printing
Stockbridge, Frank Parker and Perry, John Holliday -
Florida in the Making New York: The de Bower
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Williams, Mary W. The People and Politics of Latin
America New York- Ginn and Company, 1945,
3L J. :)
HEAVY MINERAL SANDS
AREAS OF FORMER
* SUNNILAND' OIL FIELD
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