The Morning Oregonian
Jan. 01, 1916

Mining Progress Is Unhampered by
Tendency Towards Stagnation in Other Industries



By H.M. Parks, Director of Oregon Bureau of Mines and Geology.

Mining is one of the few industries of the country which is not participating in the present business stagnation. It is true that the business uncertainty due to the war has made capital for investment somewhat timid, but this tendency in its relation to the mining industry has been much more than offset by the increased price of metals. At no time since the United States has figured prominently in the world's metal industries have we enjoyed such universally high-priced metals.

The following is a list of the principal metals, showing the present price as well as the percentage of increase during the year 1915;

Platinum $70 per ounce 66 per cent
Copper 20.75 cents per pound 63 per cent
Tin 43 cents per pound 28 per cent
Lead 5.70 cents per pound 50 per cent
Silver 56 cents per pound 17 per cent
Zinc 18.75 cents per pound 234 per cent
Pig Iron $17 per ton 24 per cent
Steel $27 Bessemer billets 46 per cent
Aluminum 60 cents per pound 215 per cent
Antimony 41 cents per pound 193 per cent
Quicksilver $105 per 75-pound flask 120 per cent
Nickel 50 cents per pound 11 per cent
Bismuth $3 per pound 260 per cent
Cobalt $2 per pound 5 per cent
Nitrate of soda $2.95 cents per pound 60 per cent

This increase is due in part to war trade and in part to the fact that the usefulness of some metals for a number of years has been increasing faster than the supply. Aluminum has more than trebled in price during the year, but war munition trade has been a small factor. The most important factor in the increased price of this metal is the material diminution in foreign supply.

As another interesting illustration of the rapid increase of the value of a metal, mention may be made of the 15-ounce exhibit of platinum at the Oregon booth in the Palace of Mines at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, loaned by James Logan, of Josephine County. This 15-ounce exhibit of platinum occupied less space than could be contained in an ordinary after-dinner coffee-cup, and yet this seemingly small amount of platinum was worth over $500 more to Mr. Logan at the close of the exposition than when he loaned it to the state last April.

By consulting the above table it will be seen that all of the metals are demanded increasingly as shown by the unprecendented advance in prices; all of which contributes to the present extremely healthy condition of the mining industry.

It is probable that the metal production from Oregon in 1915 will come very close to the $2,000,000 mark. If this figure is reached it will be the largest production in 21 years.

Gold is by far the most important item in the metal production. The Eastern Oregon district continues to be the most important producer of gold, the larger part in 1915 coming from four deep mines and one placer. The deep mines are the Cornucopia and Baker, at Cornucopia; the Rainbow, in the Mormon Basin and the Columbia, just north of Sumpter. The placer mine is that operated by the Powder River Dredging Company, operating near Sumpter in the Sumpter Valley. This company operates two dredges, one an eleven-foot and other nine-foot. The latter was installed during the year.

The copper production of the state will show a large increase. The high price of this metal has stimulated prospecting considerably, and some half dozen properties in the state have become shippers during the last few months of the year, and, although the copper production will not be a large item as compared with gold, it will be many times greater than for the past few years.

The effect of the general depression of the past year has been felt most decidedly in the building stone and clay industries. Considerable quantities of stone for local use and for road construction have been quarried at various points in the state, but the output for building purposes has been less than for several years. With the exception of the Federal buildings at Medford and The Dalles, contracts calling for stone in any quantity have been few in 1915. Sandstone for the Medford Postoffice was furnished from the Pioneer quarry in Lincoln County. This quarry has in the past produced much exellent building stone but was idle for several years prior to its re-opening in 1914.

The slowing-up of building operations has similarly affected to some extent the demand for building brick and clay building blocks. Most of the largest clay plants have been in continuous operation throughout the season, however, and report a steady, even if somewhat lessened, demand for their products. The increasing use of drain tile by farmers for draining the wet lands is beginning to exercise a substantial stimulating effect upon the clayworking business. This is particularly true in those sections of the Willamete Valley and other parts of the state where large tracts of rich but undrained farm lands exist. The demand for pressed brick, face brick and ornamental brick has likewise sagged with the scarcity of building operations. The output of pipe, paving brick and stoneward, will probably be found to have decreased but slightly, if any, in 1915, from that of the preceding year. Oregon produced clay products in 1914 to the total value of $594,166. The 1915 production will likely be a little less than this.

In the same field with stone and clay products are the building brick and blocks, pipe and drain tile made of cement concrete. These are made in various parts of the state, usually where suitable clays or stone are not available. The value of concrete products made and marketed in the past year has suffered in common with that of other materials of construction. No statisticds of production are available.

Though the mining of coal in Oregon has never been considered one of the important industries of the state, nevertheless in the last six years alone 340,728 tons have been mined, having a total value of $946,903. The statistics of the coal production for 1915 are not as yet available, but in 1914 there were 51,558 short tons mined, with a value of $143,556. This is a light increase over the production in 1913, which was 46,063 tons, valued at $116,724.


All the coal mined in Oregon comes from the Coos Bay coal field, so named from the fact that it entirely surrounds that body of water. This field occupies a total area of about 230 square miles. The two largest producing mines are those operated by the Beaver Hill Coal Company and the Coos ay Coal and Fuel Company. In 1914 the average number of workmen at the Beaver Hill was 77, and at the Coos Bay Coal and Fuel Company's mine 62.

Other coal fields have been prospected in different parts of the state. Among them are the Upper Nehalem field in Columbia County, the Lower Nehalem, in Clatsop and Tillamook Counties; the Yaquina field, in Lincoln County; the Eckley and Shasta Costa fields, in Curry County; the Eden field, in Coos County, and the Rogue River field, in Jackson County.

The sand and gravel production for 1914 was $390,177. The lime, limestone and gypsum produced in 1914 amounted to $78,257. There will probably be little change in these figures for 1915.

2000 Roxann Gess Smith
All Rights Reserved

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