John C. Heter, 1991. "The Soledad Canyon Ilmenite Mine (P.W. Gillibrand Co.), San Gabriel Mountains, Southern California", The Diversity of Mineral and Energy Resources of Southern California, Michael A. McKibben
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The P.W. Gillibrand Company holds 705 placer and lode claims in the Precambrian San Gabriel Anorthosite Complex of the western San Gabriel Mountains. These claims contain large tonnages of ilmenite, magnetite and apatite with anomalous quantities of zirconium (zircon), niobium, vanadium and rare earth elements.
Stockpiling of heavy mineral concentrates associated with aggregate mining from alluvial pits has occurred since 1984. The limited reserves of material from these alluvial deposits and their relatively low heavy mineral grades caused Gillibrand Company to initiate an extensive drilling and exploration program to develop the hardrock resources of ilmenite, apatite and magnetite.
Surface sampling identified three potential target areas. In 1986 a percussion drilling program was undertaken as a preliminary step in determining the resource potential of the three target areas. By 1987 and 1988, the company changed to a BX size diamond drilling program.
The drilling exploration program delineated approximately twenty million tons of combined heavy minerals (ilmenite + apatite + magnetite) in the target areas.
Production scale processing of the heavy minerals has occurred since 1984 with more than 20,000 tons of coarse ilmenite sold in 1990 to the export market for titanium pigment production.
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The Kramer borate deposit is located in the northwestern Mojave Desert, about 90 air miles northeast of Los Angeles and 3 miles north of the town of Boron (figure 1). The deposit derives its name from the mining district in which it lies. The Kramer deposit, presently being mined from the Boron open pit, has been a world-class source of sodium borates since mine startup in 1926 and continues to be the largest source of borates in the world.
The Kramer ore body is a roughly lenticular sedimentary sequence of borax (Na2B4O7 • 10H2O) and kernite (Na2B4O7 • 4H2O) containing interbedded claystone. This central crystalline facies is successively enveloped by facies consisting of ulexite (Na,CaB5O9 • 8H2O) -bearing claystone, colemanite (Ca2B6O11 • 5H2O) -bearing claystone, and barren claystone. Studies indicate the Kramer borates were deposited in a small structural, nonmarine basin, associated with thermal (volcanic) spring activity during Miocene time.
The Kramer deposit does not crop out. It was discovered accidentally in 1213 by Dr. John Suckow, a homesteader, who struck colemanite while drilling a water well (figure 2). Exploratory drilling and shaft sinking after World War I by Pacific Coast Borax Company, the predecessor of U.S. Borax, led to the discovery of borax and kernite in 1925. In 1926 PCB went into large-scale, underground sodium borate mining in the Baker mine, located nearly 2 miles east of Suckow's discovery well. The company soon closed all its calcium borate operations near Ryan in Death Valley in favor of the more easily processed sodium borates at Boron.
U.S. Borax ships mostly bulk, refined sodium borate products and boric acid to both domestic and world markets from Boron. Principal uses for these products are in the manufacturing of glass and fiberglass, herbicides, ceramics, soaps and detergents, fluxes, fertilizers, and fire retardants.