2013 Inductees of Mining's Past
Bartolomé de Medina (1497-1585)
2013 Inductee from Mining's Past
Inventor of the Patio Process
Bartolomé de Medina was a successful Spanish businessman who became fascinated with solving the challenge of decreasing silver yields and increasing production costs from silver ores mined in the Spanish America. He first focused his attention on learning about new smelting methods from smelters in Spain but found that silver could be extracted from ground ores using mercury and salt water brine.
Armed with this knowledge, he left for Pachuca, New Spain (Mexico) in 1554 and established a model patio refinery to test the effectiveness of this new technology. The process involved first crushing silver ores to a fine slime, then mixed with salt, water, magistral (impure copper sulfate), mercury and then spread in a 1 to 2 foot thick layer in a shallow-walled open enclosure patio. Horses were driven around the patio to further mix the ingredients and eventually formed an amalgam. This “dry” method eliminated the need for large quantities of wood and water which were readily available in Europe but not in the treeless, waterless highlands of Mexico and the Andes.
The introduction of amalgamation to silver refining replaced smelting as the primary method of silver extraction and inaugurated a rapid expansion of silver production in Mexico and Peru. As a result, the Americas became the primary source producing three-fifths of the world’s silver supply until around 1900. Spanish American production fed the demand for silver, facilitating the development of extensive trade networks and this rapid expansion is often recognized as the key to early modern world trade linking Europe, Africa, Asia, and Americas.
Ben Williams (1852-1925)
2013 Inductee from Mining's Past
Mine Superintendent and General Mine Manager
Ben Williams, born in February 1852, was the son of a prominent family of Welsh metallurgists from Swansea. The family emigrated to the United States in 1855 settling in Connecticut, the American center of brass and copper refining. The family then moved on to copper refining works near Houghton, Michigan, and subsequently to San Francisco in 1874 where William’s father and brother-in-law, DeWitt Bisbee, founded the mining firm of Bisbee, Williams & Company.
Williams’ first job in the Arizona Territory was as Superintendent of the San Xavier Mine near Tucson. In 1879, he relocated to Charleston, Arizona, a smelter town along the San Pedro River, and prospected in the Huachuca Mountains. The following year, the nearby Copper Queen claims situated adjacent to Mule Gulch were purchased by a group of mining investors and Bisbee, Williams & Company was hired to manage the mine. Bisbee, Williams and Company recognized the mine’s potential and placed Ben Williams and his brother Lewis in charge of general operations and of smelting respectively.
Together the brothers dedicated their technical expertise and procedural skills necessary to develop the mine and built a small smelter to extract the copper from the raw ore. By the end of 1880, the mine had produced more than 700 tons of copper representing about 70% of all the copper produced from Arizona mines during that year!
Dr. James Douglas, a metallurgical engineer from Phelps Dodge & Co. was dispatched in 1882 to examine the area and his company purchased the adjoining Atlanta Claim. Two years later, when the Atlanta ore deposit bordering both mines was simultaneously discovered, the two mines merged to avoid costly litigation and formed the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company with Douglas as President and Williams as general manager. In 1897, when Williams learned that the free masons were holding the Masonic Grand Lodge of Arizona Meeting at the Caverns situated 350’ below the surface of the Copper Queen Mine, Williams ordered the interior to be lit by electricity! He realized that the grandeur of the Caverns would attract visitors worldwide! As trade and commerce increased, Mule Gulch’s population grew sufficiently to warrant a post office and the town was renamed after Bisbee for his absolute devotion and financial support in ore prospecting.
By Williams’ retirement in 1899, Bisbee had emerged as a vibrant copper mining town and was known as the “Queen of the Copper Camps” in no small part due to William’s exemplary and capable leadership. Williams passed away on September 1, 1925 and many members of the Copper Queen management attended the funeral. Williams will always be remembered as an important Arizona pioneer and father of the Copper Queen Mine.
Charles E. Mills (1867-1929)
2013 Inductee from Mining's Past
Mining Manager, Founder and President, Apache Powder Company and The Valley National Bank
Charles E. Mills left major footprints in both the banking and the mining industries. Following graduation from the University of Iowa, School of Engineering, he joined the Copper Queen Mine at Bisbee, Arizona in 1888. Shortly thereafter, he left for Harvard University and returned after two years to become the general manager of the Detroit Copper Mining Company at Morenci but resigned to become a private in the Rough Riders during the Spanish American War. Mills resumed his managerial duty at Morenci after the war but left in 1912 to become dual general manager of the Inspiration Consolidated Copper Company and the International Smelting Company at Miami. While there, he directed the development of the Inspiration Mine adopting flotation as the method of concentration, the construction of the mill and buildings, and built the International Smelter.
When this nation entered World War I, Mills volunteered as a “dollar a year” man in the aircraft production division. On his return after the war, Mills recognized the need for a regional source of explosives and formed the Apache Powder Company providing explosives for the southwestern mines and successfully eliminating freight expenses. In 1990, the company formally changed its name to Apache Nitrogen Products, Inc.
In 1899, Mills broadened his interests towards the finance industry and embarked on his other notable career beginning with the Gila Valley Bank and Trust Company and under his direction, became the largest branch banking institution in Arizona. Mills steadily acquired the major financial interest in the bank and became President in 1908. In 1914, Mills was appointed to reorganize The Gila Valley Bank and The Valley Bank and merged the two banking institutions in 1922 to form The Valley National Bank. Mills remained the guiding source of The Valley National Bank and the Apache Powder Company and served as President of both industries until his death in 1929.
Edwin B. Royle (1904-1957) and John S. Finlay (1874-1935)
2013 Inductees from Mining's Past
Inventors of the Mucking Machine
Anyone who has worked underground owes a debt of gratitude to Burt Royle, the principal inventor of the mucking machine, which greatly eased the job of removing the broken muck by hand shoveling to operating a powered machine, doing the job in less time and with much less exertion and back strain. Many unsuccessful attempts had been made to improve the mucking cycle, but the revolutionary design conceived by Burt Royle, with improvements by John Spence Finlay made possible the removal of muck faster and easier than ever thought possible.
Royle was reputedly the best hoist engineer at the North Lilly Mine in Eureka, Utah. He also had an active and analytical mind. His idea for the mucking machine came partly from observing the arc motion of the shovel while mucking out a round. His design permitted a small cross-section drift to be driven, similar to the drifts driven where hand mucking was used, and significantly smaller than those employing the mechanical devices then available.
John Spence (Jack) Finlay was born in Canada and immigrated in 1890. He worked for Anaconda in Butte and was sent down to Eureka, UT to manage their North Lily mine. The depression was starting and Anaconda wanted a likely gold deposit explored. Funds to accomplish this were meager, so when Burt Royle approached him with plans for the overshot mucker, Finlay encouraged him, as he realized that the savings this machine could make in labor, time and powder could make possible exploration of the target.
In the old days, the Mine Superintendent wielded a lot of power. Finlay authorized the building of Royle’s machine in the mine’s shop. Since it was built largely out of parts from the mine’s “bone yard” (scrap pile- supposedly including parts from a wrecked Model T Ford), costs were minimal. The machine was successful, where the October 15, 1931 issue of the Eureka Reporter stated that the mechanical mucker had been in use for ten days without any breakdowns at the Big Hill Mine in Eureka, and could fill an “ordinary” mine car in one minute and twenty seconds.
An agreement was reached with a small Salt Lake foundry (Eastern Iron & Metals Co. (EIMCO)) for the manufacture of the machine. This invention was largely responsible for EIMCO’s growth and success. Finlay retired and Royle became a full time consultant for EIMCO. In the course of his life, he received seventeen patents, eight of which were for mining applications. Two of these patents were shared with Finlay.
Louis Caryl Graton (1880-1970)
2013 Inductee from Mining's Past
Economic Geologist and Professor Emeritus, Harvard University
Louis Caryl Graton was born in Parma, New York on June 10, 1880. He entered Cornell University in 1896 at the age of 16 and received his BS degree in 1900. He continued his studies in geology at McGill University while working in exploration around the mining districts of Ontario, Canada. Returning to Cornell in 1902, he completed his PhD course requirements by 1903, but his PhD degree was not conferred until 28 years later after he completed his 1930 thesis, “Hydrothermal Origin of the Rand Gold Deposits.”
In 1903, Graton joined the US Geological Survey where he assisted Waldemar Lindgren in a restudy of the Cripple Creek District in Colorado, beginning a lifelong professional association and friendship with Lindgren. In 1909, he was appointed Director of the newly formed Copper Producers’ Association in New York City, but left soon after when he was invited to join the faculty at Harvard University as a mining geology instructor. He advanced to full professorship in 1912, and remained on the Harvard faculty for the ensuing 37 years. The main theme of many of his lectures was the importance of hydrothermal magmatic waters as a source of ore deposits.
Graton’s knowledge and interest in copper deposits were instrumental in his assignment as Director of the Secondary Enrichment Investigation in 1913, sponsored by the Geo-physical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution and several American copper companies. This investigation studied all of the major copper districts in the world in collaboration with many renowned scientists. When the United States entered World War I, Graton obtained leave from Harvard University to serve as secretary of the Copper Producers’ Committee for War Service until April 1919. During this time, at the request of the Internal Revenue Service, he participated in the development of acceptable methods of valuation to be used as a basis for taxing the extractive industries, resulting in the adoption of the depletion allowance concept.
While Graton was a consultant to many mining companies, his 30-year association with Cerro de Pasco Corporation was most noteworthy. During his many visits to Cerro’s mining properties in Peru, he became convinced that a tunnel situated 1,000 feet below the lowest mine level would best address the ventilation and haulage issues that plagued the mine. This bold venture, known as the Graton Tunnel, is still one of the longest mine tunnel in the world.
Graton devoted his life to the study of ore deposits, believing that the answers to ore genesis were to be found in field relations. The door to his home was always open to students, helping them with personal and financial problems and finding them jobs through his many contacts in the mining industry. He was President of the Society of Economic Geologists in 1931 and was awarded the Penrose Gold Medal in 1950.