Anaconda, New Mexico

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Uranophane on calcite, mineral specimen from the historic Jackpile mine.

Anaconda was a small mining community in Cibola County, New Mexico. The town came into existence in the early 1950s when the Anaconda Copper Company of Butte, Montana opened up a uranium ore processing plant 10 miles (16 km) northwest of Grants ,along Route 66, to process ore from the Jackpile Mine (or Jackpile-Paguate Mine [1][2] ), then the world's largest open-pit uranium mine.[3] Anaconda was the site of somewhere around 100 homes for the supervisors and management of the company. The Mill was also located on the same property. Contrary to reports, none of the homes were built using "radioactive" material from the plant.Referred to by the residents as "Camp", a carryover from the original tents used as temporary housing during the initial establishment of the operations. The housing was built in three phases. The first group of about 35 houses was constructed of cinderblock walls and had exposed beam ceilings. A building with four efficiency type apartments was included and used to house unmarried employees and was known as the Bachelors Quarters, or simply "The BQ". The two subsequent groups of approximately the same number were wood frame construction with stucco exteriors. The groups came to be called by the order of their building. Old Camp, Middle Camp and New Camp The Mill closed in early 1980s and the houses were sold and removed and the land reclaimed during the next 20 years. Testimony given before the New Mexico Legislature's Economic and Rural Development Committee in 2008 claimed that the mill had polluted local aquifers.[4] Presently there is little to show that the area was once a community.

During the time that Old Camp was built the Company also a clinic building that served the employees and was staffed at least part time by a Doctor, Doctor Wong. This building was later converted to general use and contained various departments including the Geology department during later years. A Quonset hut was added that served a number of purposes. The floor was finished hardwood and used for basketball and volleyball. A large kitchen in the back was used when the floor was turned into a meeting hall. Company and employee events here held here including a number of New Year's Eve celebrations.

Two additional buildings were added next to the Quonset Hut that housed a 20yd swimming pool and a four lane bowling alley. The swimming pool building was insulated with blown styrofoam on the inside. In the mid 1970's the pool building was replaced. Two outdoor tennis courts were added in the late 1950's. A golf course was added when the latter housing additions were built. There was no grass the course was periodically mainted with a grader to keep the "rough" from reclaiming the fairways. The greens were piles of oiled sand leved on top and approximately 15 feet across. A "rake" was used to smooth the green for putting.

Beyond a pre-school held in the Quonset Hut, there were no schools. Students attended Elementary School in Bluewater Village several miles away. Junior High and High School students were bused to Grants. No store or Post Office was ever established on Company Property.

Jackpile-Paguate mine[edit]

Jackpile Mine aerial, pre-1982. Part of Anaconda townsite at lower left.

The Jackpile uranium mine opened in 1953 and operated until 1982. The Jackpile was one of the largest uranium mines ever developed and mined in the United States, and by far the largest mine in the Laguna uranium district. The ores of the Laguna district contain uranium, vanadium, and many other elements. Only rarely do the ores contain more than 1 % uranium or vanadium; most of the ores ·average about 0.2 % uranium and less vanadium. The first 3 million tons of ore shipped from the mine averaged 0.23 percent U3O8 and 0.13 percent V2O5 (1958 data). The ore bodies are typical "roll-front" deposits, localized in old stream channels. Carboniferous material within the ore zones is often high-grade. [5]

Reclaimed Jackpile-Paguate Uranium Mine, circa 2013

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Laguna Pueblo Indian Reservation Case Study: Jackpile-Paguate Mine, New Mexico, MiningWatch Canada, Jan 08 2007
  2. ^ Native Americans denounce toxic legacy Archived September 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., by Danielle Knight. Third World Network,
  3. ^ Native American Philosophy and the New Environmental Paradigm Archived May 30, 2005, at the Wayback Machine., Antonio A. Arce
  4. ^ La Jicarita News, A Community Newspaper for Northern New Mexico, December 2008
  5. ^ Geology and Uranium Deposits of the Laguna District, New Mexico, 1967, USGS Professional Paper 519. Online copy

External links[edit]