UTAH MINE PRODUCES WATER PURIFICATION PRODUCTS
It's ironic to think that some of the products of brackish water
are chemicals that are used to purify water. That's the case at
US Magnesium in Utah, which uses the brackish water of the Great
Salt Lake to produce chlorine and iron chloride for water purification
US Magnesium mines salts on the shores of the Great Salt Lake
to produce magnesium metal and alloys, as well as chlorine, calcium
chloride, iron chlorides, and hydrochloric acid. The facility
is 60 miles west of Salt Lake City, Utah, and spans over 80,000
acres. A vast solar evaporation system produces magnesium chloride
feedstock for the magnesium production facility and the other
Most production work is done by the sun. In fact, US Magnesium
is one of the largest industrial users of solar energy in the
world and is the Company's principle source of energy, accounting
for approximately 90% of the total energy input into the overall
magnesium production process. Evaporation from the sun increases
the concentration of magnesium chloride in brine from the Great
Salt Lake by 2000%.
Production is simple: Lake brine is piped into a pond and the
water allowed to evaporate. As the water dries out, salt crystals
form. When most of the salt crystallizes out, the remaining brine
is moved to another pond and allowed to evaporate more until potassium
sulfate crystallizes. After that, the remaining brine is magnesium
The refinery then purifies the magnesium chloride for magnesium
production. The high purity magnesium is produced with electrolytic
cells that produce both magnesium and chlorine. However, there
are also applications for pure magnesium chloride. It is a popular
dust control agent for mines and construction companies because
it attracts water from the atmosphere and moistens the fine dust
and clays enough to prevent them from becoming airborne.
US Magnesium produces a wide range of chemicals for water purification.
It is one of the largest producers of iron chlorides in the western
US for use in drinking and waste water treatment. Iron chlorides
are used as a flocculent to remove several dangerous heavy metals
like arsenic from drinking water. In sewage plants, iron chlorides
are used to remove phosphorous used in detergents and heavy metals.
They are also critical for removing that "rotten egg"
smell from water that contains hydrogen sulfide. Iron chloride
treatment allows many waste water plants to meet EPA discharge
standards without costly expenditures on new equipment.
Another water purification product that comes from US Magnesium
is liquid chlorine. Chlorine is supplied in tank cars for the
water treatment industry, to ensure that water is free of bacteria
and viruses. It's also used as a feedstock for several chemicals
used to treat your backyard pool water.
Even the brackish water of the evaporation ponds has a benefit.
Thanks to the evaporation ponds, the US Magnesium property is
a natural habitat for migrating birds. The higher salinity in
these ponds provides a supply of food for the migrating birds
in the form of brine flies and brine shrimp. There are times during
the year when their solar ponds are host to American avocets,
sandpipers, eared grebes, Wilson's phalaropes, and California
US Magnesium was a member of the Great Salt Lake Water Bird Survey
team that did extensive bird census work to learn about wildlife
population trends on the Great Salt Lake and the relationship
of bird ecology and changing lake levels and salinity ten years
ago. In 2005, US Magnesium donated 16 acres of land on the northern
end of Stansbury Island for development of a Wildlife Interpretive
Center, providing conservation education and Lake access to the
public. Stansbury Island, the second largest island of Great Salt
Lake, is named for Captain Howard Stansbury who, in 1850, surveyed
Great Salt Lake and environs.
Traditionally, magnesium production from magnesium chloride has
been considered environmentally unfriendly. However, US Magnesium
has reduced chlorine emissions by 99%, air emissions by 95%, and
unit energy consumption by 25%. This combination led to the Company
being awarded the prestigious Utah Manufacturing Environmental
Consciousness Award in 2007.