We mine borates, a naturally occurring mineral, from our mine in Boron, California, which we then refine and transform into products essential to modern living. Boron is vital to plant growth, so it is used in fertilisers, but it is also used in other industries such as glass manufacturing, wood protection and insulation fibreglass – to name just a few.
Mining at Boron began in 1927 and today, the mine – home to one of the richest deposits of borates in the world – produces one million tonnes of refined borates every year, or approximately 30% of global demand. We mine trona to process borates at our Owens Lake operation and refine and ship borates from our Wilmington port facility. Learn more about our borates operation.
Decarbonising our operations
At Boron, we continually aim to improve our productivity, the safety of our team and to minimise our environmental impact.
We have lowered our water use by millions of gallons through recycling – a critical goal given our location in Southern California.
Partnering with Neste and Rolls-Royce, in 2022 we also trialled renewable diesel in our haul trucks, and demonstrated that it produced similar performance and reliability as conventional diesel with lower emissions. Rolled out across our broader fleet, this could reduce 45,000 tonnes of emissions per year.
And we’ve partnered with CR Minerals to recycle waste materials from our Boron operations into pozzolans, a replacement for cement in concrete.
California operations communities
Our mine is operated by our borax business, U.S. Borax, which is one of America’s oldest and most iconic businesses. Originally established in Death Valley, California, the mine’s “Twenty Mule Team” would transport the borates through the harsh desert environment, ready for distribution to customers.
To this day, U.S. Borax celebrates its unique history by bringing the mule team back to life for special events and celebrations, both in Nevada and California.
In the early 20th century, the small town of Ryan was established to accommodate the hundreds of miners employed at the Death Valley site; from 1914-1927, it was also the centre of borates mining, complete with a hospital, post office, school and a building that served as a church, movie theatre and recreation hall.
In 2013, Rio Tinto turned over the now-ghost town of Ryan to the Death Valley Conservancy (DVC), protecting its valuable cultural heritage for future generations. The DVC is meticulously working to restore the site to its original look.
150 years in the Mojave Desert: Then and Now
Staying in business for more than a century and a half isn’t easy. Only companies who openly embrace and adapt to change can survive. In 2022, we’re excited to join that exclusive list as U.S. Borax celebrates 150 years of borate mining operations.