- insulation fiberglass, textile fiberglass and heat-resistant glass (43% of world demand)
- detergents, soaps and personal care products (17% of world demand)
- ceramic and enamel frits and glazes, ceramic tile bodies (12% of world demand)
- agricultural micronutrients (5% of world demand)
- Other uses including wood treatments, polymer additives and pest control products
Borate minerals never quite had the glamour of gold and silver mining, but they certainly had a colorful history in the Death Valley/Mojave Desert region. First discovered in Death Valley in the late 1800's, the minerals were transported by the iconic 20-mule teams (remember the powdered soap?) to the railroad at Barstow. The discovery of borate minerals in the Calico Mountains a short distance from Barstow caused the shutdown of the DV mines, but Calico played out a few years later. A farmer seeking irrigation water discovered a briny solution of borates at the site of the present-day mine, and mining began in the late 1920's.