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Top Geologist Speaks About Dragon Mine Clay


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., Jan. 6 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- The following was written by John Roskelley:

In some circles the name means nothing, but in the western mining world Rick Tschauder (pronounced "chowder") has gained a reputation for having an uncanny ability at sniffing out the good mineral deposits.

Rick received his hands-on geology education in Colorado and New Mexico, but has literally looked under almost every rock he has since come across. His stint as Chief Geologist at Hecla Mining Company helped round out his experience, and now when he speaks of mining and geology, it's worth taking notes.

"I had put off the idea of looking at this property for almost a year," Bill Jacobson, current President and CEO of Atlas Mining Company recently told me. "I thought, why do I want to look at a clay mine? We are hard rock, underground miners." The property owner, who has also been a business associate and friend of Jacobson's for many years, kept the pressure on to go have a look. "I finally relented and sent Rick and a fellow geologist to Utah."

Back in 2000, Rick took a trip to the company's Dragon Mine property in Juab County, Utah. "Like all well-planned excursions, the trip was made in the middle January," said Tschauder. I told Jacobson it was only fitting, and if the property was in the desert of southern Nevada, we would have just had to go look at it in the middle of August. Guys like Jacobson like to do that sort of thing to me."

I recently had the chance to interview Rick Tschauder after he recently revisited the Dragon Mine. His explanation of what happened to make the Dragon Mine a unique deposit started with a history lesson.

"Everything just came together perfectly in this location," explained Tschauder, referring to the forces of nature which converged in the region. "Quite a while ago -- something like 600 million years ago -- this entire area was once a very shallow sea. The clay, which we now find at the Dragon Mine, was on the ground, at the floor of that sea. It was a very fine, very soft layer approximately 80 feet thick."

This region, known as the Tintic Mining District, sits along the Wasatch Front, a range of mountains running through Utah, and part of the Rocky Mountains, in the west desert some two hours south of Salt Lake City, Utah. Over time the mud that covered this entire region became deeper and deeper until all of that material on the floor just sat there undisturbed, literally for eons.

"Millions of years later the water level dropped. In fact, the sea vanished and all this clay became encased essentially in a limestone tomb as the receding water levels caused slabs of the mountainside to collapse on top of the clay." This particular part of Utah is rich with limestone, and it can be seen in the architecture around the area.

Protected from being invaded and cluttered by various forms of debris and other impurities, the clay remained virtually untouched and undisturbed until about 34 million years ago.

"At that time some heat source raised the temperature in the region. This caused the very flat molecular particles to dissipate moisture and to curl into what we now call microtubules," explained Tschauder. "These are very small tubes, which are hollow and have a predictable rate of controlled time-release.

600 million years of history, a little luck along the way, a warming of the region and what do you get? Perhaps the most unique and valuable source of naturally occurring microtubes on the planet.

"Under an electron microscope, we have compared the tubular clay from the Dragon Mine to those from clay samples which can be found in New Zealand. At the molecular level we discovered we're not really making an apples-to-apples comparison. The clay samples from New Zealand are misshaped, blocky, and quite contaminated with various types of debris including quartz, volcanic ash, and silica," explained Tschauder.

The clay in New Zealand, the only other viable commercial source for halloysite clay, was formed in a much different manner and only at the raw, unprocessed level does it even compare to the halloysite clay at the Dragon Mine.

Halloysite is a mineral made up primarily of Aluminum, Silicon, and Oxygen. The purity and quality of the Dragon Mine halloysite is unmatched anywhere in the world, which has spawned interest in this particular mineral deposit into areas of cutting edge research and development.

"The company had originally sought the rights to mine the Dragon Mine clay because of the opportunities which existed in the traditional halloysite markets," explained Jacobson. "However, because of the unique molecular structure of our clay, the viability of our microtubes serving as carriers for a wide variety of nano applications has become a topic of significant interest."

Historically, the primary commercial uses for halloysite have been in the manufacturing of fine china, bone china, porcelain and ceramic products, various petroleum cracking agents, and some glazes and finishes.

Several U.S. biotech and nano-tech companies have shown a tremendous amount of interest in the Dragon Mine halloysite. The time-release attributes are quite attractive to companies currently researching the deployment of various agents through nano technology, where a predictable method of controlling the release of that agent is critical.

"For nano-scientists interested in being able to control, or to better deploy the time-release agents in a natural, benign container," explained Tschauder, "the microtubes found in the Dragon Mine clay may provide the perfect solution."

Scientists control the time-release attributes of the microtubes simply by the length and thickness of the tubes. The longer the duration sought, the longer and thicker the tubes used.

What does this all boil down to?

"After I had a chance to revisit and to see the underground bed of clay," continued Tschauder, "and to really see first-hand how well the plan has come together since those first days when there was virtually nothing here, I told Bill Jacobson that to use this clay to make ceramic and porcelain products was like using gold to wire or plumb your house."

Tschauder continued, "It's an overkill use of a very precious commodity and to be quite honest, other resources around the world are more than adequate for those needs. The Dragon Mine clay is a one-of-a-kind resource, which has been perfectly blended over hundreds of millions of years, and when it's gone, it's gone. To let it be used in the production of such things as china teacups and saucers, or spark plugs, or toilet tanks is to grossly misuse its potential. I'm certain the more the nano companies see this clay at the molecular level, and the more academia researches its potentials, the more resistant each of these groups is going to become to letting this product be used for any other reasons than their own. In fact, I'd expect them to become quite vocal about it," concluded Tschauder.

One thing is certain: Whether used traditionally or in new and exciting nano applications, Atlas Mining controls one of the most valuable and unique minerals on the planet. I'm certain it will be put to good use.

Source: John Roskelley

CONTACT: John Roskelley of First Global Media, +1-480-902-3110


This story has been adapted from a news release -
Diese Meldung basiert auf einer Pressemitteilung -
Deze tekst is gebaseerd op een nieuwsbericht -


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