Laurie Mercier's look at "community unionism" examines the distinctive culture of cooperation and activism fostered by residents in Anaconda, Montana, home to the world's largest copper smelter and the namesake of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company.
Mercier depicts the vibrant life of the smelter city at full steam, incorporating the candid commentary of the locals ("the company furnished three pair of leather gloves . . . and all the arsenic [dust] you could eat"). During five decades of devoted unionism, locals embraced an "alternative Americanism" that championed improved living standards for working people as the best defense against communism. Mercier also explores how gender limits on women's political, economic, and social roles shaped the nature and outcome of labor struggles, and traces how union rivalries, environmental concerns, and the 1980 closing of the Anaconda smelter transformed the town.
A fascinating portrait of how community molds working class consciousness, Anaconda offers important insights about the changing nature of working class culture and collective action.
The book is the first comprehensive study of the American copper industry to include labor markets, unionism, and labor relations as an integral part of its focus. It also undertakes a careful examination of the influences exerted by geography and geology in the shaping of the industry.
The study begins with the formation, development, and later histories of all the principal copper producers, their major business and labor policies, technical innovations, attempts at diversification, and foreign ventures. On the labor side, the book examines the beginnings of unionism in the 1880s; the emergence of the Western Federation of Miners in 1893; the later appearance of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers in 1916. The eventual takeover of the Mine Mill by the Steel workers in 1967 and the reasons for the eventual collapse of the pattern system in 1983 are also carefully considered.
The study emphasizes the role of strategic innovations in shaping American copper history, most prominently in the successive development of underground block-caving and open-pit mining; concentration and flotation; and solvent extraction and electrowinning. The study concludes with an evaluation of the lessons supplied by the past and the prospects for the future of the industry.
Winner of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame's Western Heritage Wrangler Award for Outstanding Western Biography
Winner of the Western Writers of America's Spur Award for Best Western Non-Fiction Book
"A solid account of a southwestern 'character' who has flitted in and out of frontier and economic history."—American Historical Review
"A creditable work on a fascinating individual. In delightful writing style [Sonnichsen] has reconstructed Greene's life, explaining the ambitions as well as the frailties of this extraordinary entrepreneur."—History
"A rewarding study of the later days of mining."—Arizona and the West
This comprehensive history of copper mining tells the full story of the industry that produces one of America's most important metals. The first inclusive account of U.S. copper in one volume, Copper for America relates the discovery and development of America's major copper-producing areas—the eastern United States, Tennessee, Michigan, Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Alaska—from colonial times to the present.
Starting with the predominance of New England and the Middle Atlantic states in the early nineteenth century, Copper for America traces the industry's migration to Michigan in mid-century and to Montana, Arizona, and other western states in the late nineteenth century. The book also examines the U.S. copper industry's decline in the twentieth century, studying the effects of strong competition from foreign copper industries and unforeseen changes in the national and global copper markets.
An extensively documented chronicle of the rise and fall of individual mines, companies, and regions, Copper for America will prove an essential resource for economic and business historians, historians of technology and mining, and western historians.
Throughout world history, copper has been a significant metal for a vast number of cultures, from the oldest civilizations on record to the Bronze Age and Greek and Roman antiquity. Though replaced by iron as the primary metal for tools and weapons in ancient civilizations, copper found new resurgence in the nineteenth century when it was discovered to have particularly high thermal and electrical conductivity. Copper mining quickly escalated into a large-scale industry, and because of its vast reserves and innovative mining techniques, the United States seized the reins of global production with the opening of significant copper mines in Tennessee and Michigan in the 1840s and Montana in the 1870s.
Copper-mining prosperity and America’s dominance of the industry came with a heavy environmental price, however. As rich copper deposits declined with increased mining efforts, large deposits of leaner ores—oftentimes less than one percent pure—had to be mined to keep pace with America’s technological thirst for copper. Processing such ore left an inordinate amount of industrial waste, such as tailings and slag deposits from the refining process and toxic materials from the ores themselves, and copper mining regions around the United States began to see firsthand the landscape degradation wrought by the industry.
In The Legacy of American Copper Smelting, Bode J. Morin examines America’s three premier copper sites: Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, Tennessee’s Copper Basin, and Butte- Anaconda, Montana. Morin focuses on what the copper industry meant to the townspeople working in and around these three major sites while also exploring the smelters’ environmental effects. Each site dealt with pollution management differently, and each site had to balance an EPA-mandated cleanup effort alongside the preservation of a once-proud industry.
Morin’s work sheds new light on the EPA’s efforts to utilize Superfund dollars and/or protocols to erase the environmental consequences of copper-smelting while locals and preservationists tried to keep memories of the copper industry alive in what were dying or declining post-industrial towns. This book will appeal to anyone interested in the American history of copper or heritage preservation studies, as well as historians of modern America, industrial technology, and the environment.
The place: The steep mountains outside Salt Lake City. The time: The first decade of the twentieth century. The man: Daniel Jackling, a young metallurgical engineer. The goal: A bold new technology that could provide billions of pounds of cheap copper for a rapidly electrifying America. The result: Bingham's enormous "Glory Hole," the first large-scale open-pit copper mine, an enormous chasm in the earth and one of the largest humanmade artifacts on the planet. Mass Destruction is the compelling story of Jackling and the development of open-pit hard rock mining, its role in the wiring of an electrified America, as well its devastating environmental consequences.
Mass destruction mining soon spread around the nation and the globe, providing raw materials essential to the mass production and mass consumption that increasingly defined the emerging "American way of life." At the dawn of the last century, Jackling's open pit replaced immense but constricted underground mines that probed nearly a mile beneath the earth, to become the ultimate symbol of the modern faith that science and technology could overcome all natural limits. A new culture of mass destruction emerged that promised nearly infinite supplies not only of copper, but also of coal, timber, fish, and other natural resources.
But, what were the consequences? Timothy J. LeCain deftly analyzes how open-pit mining continues to affect the environment in its ongoing devastation of nature and commodification of the physical world. The nation's largest toxic Superfund site would be one effect, as well as other types of environmental dead zones around the globe. Yet today, as the world's population races toward American levels of resource consumption, truly viable alternatives to the technology of mass destruction have not yet emerged.
In There Used to Be Order, Patience Mususa considers social change in the Copperbelt region of Zambia following the re-privatization of the large state mining conglomerate, the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM), in the mid-1990s. As the copper mines were Zambia’s most important economic asset, the sale of ZCCM was considered a major loss to the country. More crucially, privatization marked the end of a way of life for mine employees and mining communities. Based on three years of ethnographic field research, this book examines life for those living in difficult economic circumstances, and considers the tension between the life they live and the nature of an “extractive area.” This account, unusual in its examination of middle-income decline in Africa, directs us to think of the Copperbelt not only as an extractive locale for copper whose activities are affected by the market, but also as a place where the residents’ engagement with the harsh reality of losing jobs and struggling to earn a living after the withdrawal of welfare is simultaneously changing both the material and social character of the place. Drawing on phenomenological approaches, the book develops a theoretical model of “trying,” which accounts for both Copperbelt residents’ aspirations and efforts.
Experts agree that the earth will eventually run out of certain low-cost, nonrenewable resources, possibly as early as a century from now. Will the transition to reliance on other, more abundant resources be smooth or discontinuous? Might industrial societies experience a marked decline in living standards—a radically different kind of society from the one we now know? Geologists maintain that once inexpensive high-grade resources are exhausted, economic growth will slow. Economists are more optimistic: they believe that new technologies and materials will be substituted rapidly enough to prevent minor economic dislocations.
Toward a New Iron Age? takes an important step toward reconciling these divergent views. It is the most comprehensive study of the economic consequences of resource depletion—in particular, it is a thorough exploration of the prospects for one key metal, copper. The authors draw on geological and engineering data to calculate the resources now available and to assess the feasibility of substituting alternatives. Using linear programming and a range of hypothetical base conditions, they are able to estimate the course, through the next century and beyond, of several crucial factors: the rate at which copper resources will be used and when they will be depleted; how the price of the metal will fluctuate; when alternative materials will be substituted, in what patterns, and at what costs. By the late twenty-first century, the authors believe, low-cost copper will no longer be available. Industrial societies will have to operate on more abundant resources such as iron, silica, and aluminum. They will enter, in short, a New Iron Age.