Valles Mines, Missouri, U S A
Founded in 1749 by Francois Valle years before he became Don Francois Valle.
The Valle Mining Company's 4500 acre property every year absorbs 21,000
tons of carbon dioxide and puts out 14,000 tons of oxygen.
This is enough to meet the needs of 63,000 people. [USDA Forest Facts]
The Chat Pile is now a 3-acre parking lot in sight of the new Valles Mines Post Office 63087, 3225 State Highway V, Valles Mines, MO 63087-9997
(636) 586-3069), formerly at A.P. Rowe General Store,
after years across the street from the General Store/Lost History
Museum. If you were wondering how it got there, here's its
The Chat Pile Ore-Dressing and Beneficiation Mill
came about as an answer to World
War II's need for materials. The Bureau of Mines thought it worthwhile to send what
was formerly regarded as too small materials from the mines to be worth separating
("We got all the big pieces") through a separating mill. They chose
the location known today as The Chat Pile. Dumps
from mines all over the area were hauled here for further
processing. The lead and barite were simple to separate, you
just washed the dirt off and what was left was the ore. Unfortunately, in doing
that, not only were fine particles lost but also the zinc component
called "smithsonite"(see "Valles Mines Ore Washer"
report, page 2 of 6).
resembled red clay, was very similar in weight, and often bonded to
rust-colored goethite, which also weighed the same and was very similar in
weight, all three ingredients got washed downstream together,
mistaken as huge amounts of waste mud.
To make matters worse, the zinc that was recovered was low yield
because it "glued" to the goethite (an iron compound)
when it came in contact with water. In other words, very little of the zinc got recovered as
they started trucking in the dumps of all the
mines. As the "feed" got sorted through and washed out, it turned the creek red
for miles downstream. To this day, those
washings can be detected in nooks and crannies of the creek bed.
Eventually the zinc separating operation was abandoned as unfeasible
using that century old technology. [Read the
original report (PDF format). This is a 20 meg. download (12
pages) and requires Adobe Reader. ]
On a brighter side, the lead from the Mill supplied during WWII
helped win the war just as Valles Mines lead had helped win the
Revolutionary War, the
Battle For St. Louis, the Civil War and
WW I. A lot has happened to technology since WWII and especially how
it concerns the
mining industry. Valles Mines never saw modern technology like
electric lights in the mines. Miners were thrilled when they
could wear the new carbide lamps on their heads instead of using
candles. No one ever drilled horizontally to prospect when their
mine payed out. Who could have imagined in 1945 how the invention of the hydrocone,
centrifuge, teeter-bed separator,
chip wringer, pneumatic, or
electrostatic separator would change our world today? What would have those old miners
have done with these modern
For that matter, who would have figured that the goethite problem keeping the Mining Company from
reopening its zinc operation in 2010 would be solved by a
magnetic separator from the Chinese mining industry? They
would have to do some shopping because since log washers went out
of style in 1945,
lot of shopping to do for the new stuff. If the goverment wanted to stimulate the economy of the
Lead Belt and SE Missouri, maybe they could start at Valles Mines.
With zinc reaching a dollar/lb. recently (up from $28/ton back
then), everybody might be better off.