2011 Mining History Association Tour


Barrets Minerals, Inc. Talc Plant

Dillon, Montana

June 2, 2011


Tour Leader: John C. Parks

While the gold and silver mines around Dillon, MT played-out many years ago, a mineral used by most of us every day is produced nearby.  It is talc!  Its unique chemical and physical properties make it a desirable ingredient in ceramics, paints, and plastics, as well as more recognizable uses such as body powder and the coating on tablets and chewing gum.  The ceramic components of the catalytic converters of all automobiles manufactured in North America and over 70% worldwide contain talc from Barretts’ mines.

Early Native Americans discovered talc, commonly called soapstone, in the Ruby Mountains east of Dillon.  They found this rock easy to carve and made many things from it including peace pipes.  The Lewis and Clark Journals even talk about smoking peace pipes made from talc.

Barrett Minerals, Inc. operates the Treasure and Regal Mines in the Ruby Mountains.  The talc is trucked to their plant 8 miles south of Dillon.  Many of those attending the MHA Annual Meeting toured the plant and saw how talc is processed and prepared for shipment.  The talc ore from the mine is crushed and ground to precise customer specifications.  Some is further treated in a flotation plant.  Finally the dried talc is packaged in paper bags or larger “super sacks” weighing several hundred pounds.  The finished products are loaded on railroad cars for shipment to customers.


(Adapted from Mining History News, the MHA Newsletter, March 2011)



 Barretts Minerals, Inc. Talc Plant

 Talc Ore from the Mines is Dumped and  

 Conveyed to Crushing and Grinding Plant

 Some Ore Goes to the Flotation Plant

 MHA Visitors Hear a Description of the


Loading Large “Super Sacks” with Talc

 Loading Paper Bags of Talc

 Talc in the Warehouse Awaiting Shipment

 Railroad Cars are Loaded with Talc


Photo Credits Mike Kaas


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