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Combined Metals Reduction Company

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This page was last updated on March 23, 2015.

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Overview

The Combined Metals Reduction Company mill at Bauer, Utah was at the site of the portal of the Honerine haulage and drain tunnel. The location was originally known as Terminus when the Utah Western Railway completed its three-foot, narrow-gauge route to the site in September 1877 (see Salt Lake Herald, September 10, 1877).

In 1900 the Honerine Mining and Milling Company was organized to own and work several mining claims in the Stockton (or Rush Valley) mining district, and the name of the end of track was changed from Terminus to Buhl. The Honerine company dug a tunnel that connected several mines at the 1200-foot level, with its portal very near the railroad terminal.

In early 1901, construction started on the mainline of the Oregon Short Line's Leamington Cutoff, a new line between Salt Lake City and central Utah, which would pass the site of the original narrow gauge end of track and terminal, cut a route through the Stockton gravel bar, and continue on to a connection with the existing mainline at a town called Leamington, about 15 miles north of Delta. In 1903, the entire rail line between Salt Lake City and the Utah-Nevada line was sold to the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad.

On January 8, 1904, the Deseret News reported that the new Honerine mill would be commissioned and made operational "within thirty days." The Ogden Standard reported on February 23, 1904 that the Honerine mill was to go into commission "today." (Deseret News, January 8, 1904; Ogden Standard, February 23, 1904)

In 1910, the Honerine company was reorganized as the Bullion Coalition, and in 1924, this company was taken over by Combined Metals Reduction Company.

The following comes from United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit; case 557 F.2d 179; June 6, 1977; In the Matter of Combined Metals Reduction Company, Debtor (ten Cases)...

Combined Metals Reduction Company (CMRCO) was organized October 5, 1923, as a Utah company with authorized capital stock of 4,000,000 shares. During most of its existence, CMRCO was principally engaged in the development of flotation processing for complex lead-zinc ores of the Pioche Mining District in the vicinity of Pioche, Nevada. By 1958 the company had acquired extensive mining properties in Nevada and Utah with a mill at Bauer, Utah with a capacity of 1,000 tons per day, and a mill at Caselton, Nevada with a capacity of 1,600 tons a day. More than 7,000,000 tons of ore had been milled through 1958, from which concentrate sales totaled $120,000,000 and net operating profit totaled $12,500,000. A drop in metal prices over a long period of time, together with a smelter strike which closed the smelters available to the venture, left the company with notes totaling $800,000 secured by mortgages and current liabilities exceeding current assets by over $130,000. A part of the operation was then shut down, but the portion remaining in operation failed to generate sufficient revenue to ease its financial burden. Creditors became aggressive and attachments of corporate assets resulted until June 25, 1968, when a receiver was appointed by the District Court for Nevada.

While CMRCO was in receivership, United States Smelting Refining & Mining Company (subsequently renamed U. V. Industries) made secured loans to CMRCO, taking mortgages on the concentrating mills and on a resin plant in Bauer, Utah. Subsequently, U. V. Industries attempted to foreclose on the properties and in order to block the foreclosures, an involuntary Chapter X petition was filed on September 30, 1970. Paul Gemmill, who was acting as equity receiver, continued in that capacity until the petition was approved on February 3, 1971, when he was appointed trustee and W. LaMonte Robison, a certified public accountant, was appointed to assist the trustee in accounting matters. In March of 1973, the trustee estimated the fair market value of CMRCO's assets to be $5,408,250; according to the accountant, CMRCO's liabilities at that time totaled only $2,715,169. Thus, there is no question as to CMRCO's solvency; its only problem was an inability to meet current liabilities.

On June 5, 1973, the bankruptcy court approved the sale of the resin processing plant at Bauer, Utah.

On June 20, 1974, the bankruptcy court approved the sale of real property, mill, and facilities located in Bauer, Utah, and approved leases and options affecting adjacent mining claims and the tailings pond.

The following comes from an undocumented source:

Between 1901 and 1906 the Honerine Mining Company bought up many of the mines and drove a lengthy tunnel at a depth of about 1200 ft to de-water the active operations. In 1910 the Bullion Coalition Company was formed and bought out the Honerine Mining Company and most of the remaining small mining operations in the area and built a gravity concentrating mill at the portal of Honerine drain tunnel. This facility, located just northwest of Stockton, came to called Bauer, and became the location of a very successful milling and processing operation. After the facility was taken over by the Combined Metals Reduction Company, it led the nation in advancements in the milling and processing of lead-silver ores. The processes of fine grinding and selective flotation soon became the standard procedures for the industry.

The Honerine drain tunnel produced large quantities of water throughout the first part of the century. The flow was estimated at times to be close to 10,000 gpm. Some of the water was necessary to run the mill, but the rest was diverted for other uses. In 1910 the mine managers of the Bullion Coalition Company decided to use the excess water for agricultural purposes. This resulted in a unique combination of mining and fruit raising that provides an interesting side note to the mining history of the region. The mining company began a ranch with an extensive orchard, alfalfa fields, potatoes and wheat. The orchard grew to be one of the largest in the state, covering more than 175 acres with apricots, peaches and apples.

Apples were the dominant crop raised, with apple trees numbering more than 19,000 at the time of peak production. Water from the drain tunnel was used to irrigate the orchard and crops, and was said to be ideal for farming purposes because it contained some trace elements that appeared to be advantageous for the trees. A large underground storage and sorting cellar was constructed, and the company shipped carloads of fruit throughout the western United States. The orchard produced significant quantities of fruit during the period 1910-1938, with production ending in 1938 when pumping operations in the Bluestone Mine were stopped and the flow of water decreased.

The Great Basin claim, which later became the property of the Honerine, also known as the National, was included in the group of 77 patented mining claims and fractions transferred to the Bullion Coalition Mines Co. in 1910. In 1924 it was taken over, with additional claims, including the New Stockton (formerly the Ben Harrison) by the Combined Metals Reduction Co. In 1926 and 1927 part of this property was being operated by the company and part by lessees. The property is opened by an adit 13,000 feet long. The total output of the Honerine and its predecessors is reported to have been 80,000 tons of ore valued at $1,250,000 to the end of 1889. At that time there were 11,500 feet of openings, and the greatest depth was 660 feet.

Timeline

December 1923
"At the annual meeting of the Combined Metals, Inc., Tuesday the old officers and board of directors -- E. H. Snyder, president; J. C. Jensen, vice-president; Frank Nichols, Willard Scowcroft, W. F. Snyder and George W. Snyder, secretary and treasurer -- were re-elected by unanimous vote. The capitol stock of the company was increased from 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 shares of par value of $1. The Combined Metals, Inc., owns jointly with National Lead Company the Combined Metals Reduction Company, which is building a 300-ton plant at Tooele for treatment of lead-zinc sulphide ores by the Fagergren flotation process." (Salt Lake Mining Review, December 15, 1923)

December 1923
"Equipment of the old Honerine mill at Bauer, near Stockton, by Combined Metals Reduction Company for the treatment of 300 tons daily of complex zinc-lead sulphide ore by the Christensen process promises to be one of the big events of 1924. What the adaptation of the Christensen processes means in a metallurgical way to silver-lead-zinc properties and to the prosperity of the industry in general, is indicated by the fact that the National Lead Company, one of the largest mining organizations in the world, has appropriated $300,000, it is said, for the rehabilitation and the equipment of the old mill." (Salt Lake Mining Review, December 30, 1923)

January 1924
"Combined Metals, Inc., owns 50 percent of the Reduction company stock and the other 50 percent is owned by the National Lead Company, which is financing the mill construction for the introduction of the Christensen selective flotation process, the discovery of Niels C. Christensen, a Salt Lake metallurgist." "When the mill is placed in commission two products will be made -- a lead-iron and zinc concentrate." "The possibilities of the Christensen process for treating lead-zinc ores were thoroughly tested out at the Florence, Colorado, plant of the River Smelting & Refining Company by the National Lead Company engineers before the latter corporation agreed to finance work now being done at Bauer." Each 100 tons of crude ore was expected, with the first flotation, to produce 42 tons of lead-iron concentrate (28 percent iron, 12.5 percent lead and 8.5 percent zinc). After the addition of copper sulphate, a second flotation was expected to produce 25 tons of zinc concentrate from the same 100 tons of crude ore, at 53 percent zinc content. (Salt Lake Mining Review, January 30, 1924)

January 1925
The Bauer plant of Combined Metals Reduction Company was in full production, working 175 men on three shifts, "turning out seventy five tons of lead iron concentrates daily which are shipped to the International smelter a few miles from the plant with an additional forty to fifty tons of zinc concentrates which are shipped to the Great Falls reduction plant of the Anaconda Copper Company." (Salt Lake Mining Review, January 15, 1925)

July 1925
"Operation of the Combined Metals Reduction Company plant at Bauer is giving steadily improved results. The flotation plant is treating an average ranging from 150 to 200 tons daily. The leaching plant is also treating an equal amount." However, no mention was made in the news item of the ore coming from the Honerine mine. Instead, the ore was coming from a new ore deposit recently discovered at the company's Pioche mine, meaning that Union Pacific was serving as transportation between the mine on its Pioche Branch, and the mill at Bauer. In November, a note was made that the Honerine mine of Combined Metals, Inc., was operating at a profit, as was the Pioche mine. Both were furnishing ore to the jointly owned Bauer mill of Combined Metals Reduction Company. (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 30, 1925; November 30, 1925)

June 1926
A news item made note that of the 200 tons being processed each day at the Bauer mill, 50 tons were coming from the Honerine mine. Fourteen cars of "first-class" ore were being shipped each week direct to the International smelter at Tooele, without any processing at the Bauer mill. (Salt Lake Mining Review, June 15, 1926)

May 29, 1928
William F. Synder died on Tuesday May 29, 1928. Mr. Synder was closely identified with the Bristol Silver Mines, Black Metals Mines, and Combined Metals mine in Pioche, along with the Dalton and Lark properties at Bingham and the Eureka Lilly property at Eureka. His first mining success was the sale of the Annie Laurie gold mine west of Marysvale, which he sold in 1899. He was the head of the W. F. Synder & Sons mining companies, and was survived by his sons, Edward H. Synder, George W. Synder, Guy M. Synder, and Neal D. Synder. (Salt Lake Telegram, May 30, 1928)

July 1, 1931
Combined Metals Reduction Company, and its National Lead Company parent, made an initial payment of $70,000 for the mortgage held against the Park Bingham mining company by United States Smelting, Refining and Mining Company. At the time, the Bauer mill was mentioned as having a daily capacity of 1000 tons, and that the ores of the Park Bingham mine "will be found highly amenable to the processes perfected at the Bauer reduction works." The ore of the Park Bingham averages 15 to 18 percent lead, and 4.5 percent zinc. (Salt Lake Telegram, July 3, 1931; July 6, 1931)

February 1932
National Lead Company, through its Combined Metals Reduction Company subsidiary, purchased silver-lead-zinc ore reserves in Bingham Canyon. In the previous July 1931, National Lead had purchased the Park Bingham group of mines in Bingham Canyon. This most recent purchase in February 1932 were the Lavagnino group from the Lavagnino Brothers of California, which included the Already Kelly group and the Bob Roy groups, along with the first 8,000 feet of the Butterfield haulage and drain tunnel. These properties encompassed all of the ground southeast of the the holdings of both United States Smelting and Utah Copper in the Bingham District. National Lead owned 75 percent of Combined Metals, which operated a lead-zinc floatation concentrating mill at Bauer. These concentrates were in turn smelted at the International smelter at Tooele, or at other lead smelters in the West. This acquisition brought under National Lead control, large portions of silver-lead ore reserves in Bingham. The Lavagnino group encompassed 865 acres of mineralized ground and included the Queen, Eagle Bird, and Northern Chief mines. The Park Bingham group encompassed 51 claims (430 acres) and included the Silver Shield and Bully Boy groups. These properties were accessed by vertical shaft, or through either the Niagara tunnel, or the Butterfield tunnel. (Murray Eagle, February 11, 1932)

August 1943
Combined Metals Reduction Company was reorganized, with National Lead Company no longer having an interest in the former jointly owned company. The financial position of Combined Metals, Inc., was improved after the Reduction company was taken over by an independent group of investors. (Salt Lake Telegram, August 19, 1943)

1955
Kennecott Copper purchased the Butterfield mine of Combined Metals Reduction Company, located in Butterfield Canyon. At the time, it was the second largest lead-zinc producer in the country. (Utah Mining Industry, Utah Mining Association, 1967, page 63)

November 1958
"At Tooele where work at the Combined Metals Reduction Company has ceased and where only the International Smelting and Refining Company smelter remains operative, community interest is focusing on a road being built across the scenic Oquirrh Mountain Range in a county effort to attract tourists." (Park Record, November 6, 1958)

Resin Refinery

The following comes from the EPA report concerning the Bauer site (Bauer Dump & Tailings Blackhawk Resin Company, Tooele County, Utah; EPA Facility ID: UTD980514186, UTD980635528, AND UTD980960082, July 25, 2006):

Soldiers stationed in the town of Stockton began mining lead and silver in Bauer, approximately one mile to the south of the site, in the early 1860s.

By the turn of the century, the Bullion Coalition Mines Company operated the main mining shaft, the Honerine Tunnel, and had consolidated the smaller mines operated by the soldiers. Early ore yields were of such high grade that they were shipped to the smelter without the need for concentrating. In 1920, the Combined Metals Reduction Company (CMRC) purchased the mine, equipment, and buildings. Because subsequently mined ore was of a lower grade, a concentrating mill was eventually constructed, at which time tailings began being deposited on-site. CMRC operated the mine until 1979, when the mine closed and the town of Bauer was abandoned.

During the 1960s, the Blackhawk Resin Company operated on approximately 27 acres in the former Bauer town site. The facility manufactured adhesives by treating coal fine residues with benzene, toluene, and hexane. The coal fine residue was discharged into diked sediment ponds on the west side of the facility. The plant was destroyed by a fire in September 1980 and was not rebuilt.

The resin refinery at Bauer was built in 1946-1947 to process resin from coal in Carbon County. The resin was separated initially from coal fines and coal-washing sludge shipped to Bauer from a coal preparation plant in Carbon County. The resin refinery was in continuous operation after early 1952 when the market for resin increased and large amounts of coal fines were shipped direct to Bauer and the resin separated by floatation and chemicals. After removal of the resin, the coal fines were disposed of as sludge, resulting in an environmental hazard that was mitigated in the 1990s.

By the mid 1950s, the resin refinery was producing about 10,000 pounds of 99.9 percent pure resin daily. The 1953 report states that the supply of resin-bearing coal from Carbon County was almost limitless. As noted above, after the mill was shut down in the late 1950s, a separate company was formed to continue refining resin. The name suggests that the coal fines were coming from the Blackhawk coal mine at Hiawatha, located on Utah Railway, which explains the Utah Coal Route gondola cars shown in photos.

After the fire in September 1980, the Blackhawk Resin & Chemical Company announced in March 1981 that the plant would not be rebuilt due to an uncertain coal supply after 1985, putting 17 employees out of work. (Deseret News, March 27, 1981)

Although not stated in the above Deseret News item, this 1985 date directly correlates with the opening of the Intermountain Power Project, and its impact of dominating the Utah coal market.

Honerine Tunnel

The portal of the Honerine tunnel was at Bauer, which was originally known as Terminal, being the end point reached by the narrow-gauge Utah Western Railway (later Utah & Nevada Railway) in 1877. Further railroad construction was not possible due to the difficulty of passing through the Stockton Bar geologic formation immediately to the south, and Terminal became the shipping point for the mines of the Stockton mining district. When the Honerine mining company was formed in 1901, its major purpose was to consolidate the new owners' mining interests in the area around Stockton. Many of these mines had been developed down to the water level of about 600 feet, and further development would require a drain tunnel. The Honerine drain tunnel was driven, beginning at Terminal (later Buhl, and later again, Bauer) to intersect the Honerine mine and other mines at the 1200-foot level, providing the needed drainage. The tunnel was completed in 1906.

By April 1903, a newspaper item reported that the Honerine drain tunnel had reached a length of 3,900 feet, having "cut through the porphyry and entered the limestone." A reservoir of water was entered that drained 2,000 gallons per minute. By early June, the length had reached 4,500 feet. By mid October, the tunnel was just 1,800 feet from the Honerine mine, and the water flow had increased to 5,000 gallons per minute. The Deseret News reported in its January 8, 1904 issue that the Honerine tunnel had been completed for a distance of 5,800 feet, and progress was being made at seven feet per day. On March 28, 1904, it was reported that the Honerine tunnel had reached 6,300 feet in length and was just 600 feet from its planned connection with the new Honerine shaft. The mill was in operation and was treating 150 tons per shift of raw ores. (Deseret News, April 10, 1903; June 3, 1903; October 24, 1903; January 8, 1904; March 28, 1904)

By 1932 the tunnel had reached an aggregate length of 50,000 feet, including all side tunnels, known adits, inclines and winzes. There had been shafts sunk a further 400 feet and pumps installed at this level continued to drain mine workings below the 1200-level. The pumps were producing 1,500 to 1,900 gallons per minute. (USGS Professional Paper 173, Stockton and Fairfield Quadrants, page 160)

Information at WesternMiningHistory.com shows that the Honerine drain tunnel was driven for a distance of 13,000 feet, from its opening at Bauer, to drain the 1200-foot level of the Honerine mine, along with other mines in the area. The tunnel was driven southeast from Bauer, under the Union Pacific railroad tracks and today's Utah Highway 36.

(Read more about the Honerine mine at WesternMiningHistory.com)

The Honerine haulage and drain tunnel was a timber-lined tunnel, approximately 7 feet by 7 feet. The transportation system was by horses until replaced by battery locomotives in 1928, traveling first on 15-pound rail, then later on 50-pound rail. Although the gauge of the trackage is not known, the timbering in the tunnel was reported as being just wide enough to provide "clearance for 36" wide storage battery locomotives." The tunnel remained in service until the mine was closed in 1957-1958.

In 1953 the tunnel was described as reaching two miles to the Honerine mine (93 claims; 791,000 acres) and Galena King mine (20 claims; 83,700 acres), and another half mile to the Calumet mine (30 claims; 181,600 acres) and Ben Harrison mine (21 claims; 292,800 acres). This "half mile" distance is confusing because the Ben Harrison mine is approximately 0.7 mile northwest of the Honerine mine, and the Calumet mine is approximately 0.85 mile further to the southeast of the Honerine, which indicates that there were actually two half-mile extensions.

Railroads At Bauer

There are a couple photos of railroad operations in the book "Mining, Smelting And Railroading In Tooele County." They show earlier operations, circa 1940s-1950s, using D&RGW and Utah Coal Route GS gondolas. There are a couple photos of an LA&SL 2-8-0 switching the mill in 1910. UP may have switched Bauer in the diesel era, but that likely ended after the the mill was shut down in 1957, and the de-watering pumps removed from the mine.

Rail-related traffic for the resin refinery would have been minimal after the closure of the Bauer mill. Available data shows that each ton of coal was about 4 to 8 percent resin. Using an average of 6 percent, this indicates that there was 120 pounds of resin in each ton of coal, and that approximately 83 tons of coal was needed per day to produce the 10,000 pounds of resin mentioned above during the mid 1950s, or about one or two carloads per day (at about 50 tons per gondola).

Map

Honerine Drain Tunnel and the mill at Bauer, Utah -- A Google Map showing the location of Honerine drain tunnel and Bauer mill near Tooele, Utah.

More Information

An excellent source is Mining, Smelting and Railroading in Tooele County, published by the Tooele County Historical Society in 1986. This book includes numerous photos and in-depth history of the Combined Metals plant.

Link to discussion messages at MojaveUnderground.com. (includes a few photos)

Link to discussion messages at ExpeditionUtah.com. (includes a few photos)

Link to Honerine Mine data at WesternMIningHistory.com.

Link to report for the Bauer/Blackhawk EPA site at CDC.gov. (PDF; includes several maps and current photos)

Link to Google Books edition of USGS Professional Paper 173, Geology and Ore Deposits of the Stockton and Fairfield Quadrants, 1932 (includes Honerine Mine)

Link to Google Books edition of USGS Professional Paper 111, Ore Deposits of Utah, 1920 (includes Honerine Mine)

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