Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Get ready for the great Arizona tungsten rush

Forget gold.  The next big thing is going to be the rush to mine tungsten in Arizona.  In order to make incandescent light bulbs that can only be sold in Arizona.

Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Commerce and Economic Development passed HB 2337, which will keep the standard incandescent light bulb on the shelves in Arizona after federal energy standards imposed by former Pres. George W. Bush take effect in 2014, that will effectively ban the current bulb as too inefficient.

The Arizona legislation is attracting lots of attention across the state and around the country as a symbolic battle of federal authority vs states rights.

The bill sponsor, Sen. Frank Antenori argues that if all the basic components of the light bulb are produced in Arizona, it is not subject to interstate commerce restrictions.   The bulb however, could not be sold in other states.

One critical component to the incandescent bulb is tungsten for the filament.  The only tungsten produced in the U.S. comes from California.   Mr. Antenori is quoted as realizing there is no Arizona production but he correctly notes there are deposits here.    For instance there are three well known veins of scheelite (CaWO4) in the Huachuca Mountains of southern Arizona.   There has been some minor excavations of these deposits but nothing in the past few decades.  [right, tungsten filament from an incandescent bulb. Credit, Wikipedia]

All you need to do is spend 5 - 10 years getting the permits needed to resume mining, build a processing plant, and construct a manufacturing facility to make tungsten filaments.   Then, assuming that Westinghouse, or GE, or the Chinese are enticed into building a light bulb factory in Arizona to sell energy inefficient bulbs to the locals only, your fortune is set.   


  1. Anonymous10:00 PM

    I believe that's why all the cancer clusters especially in young children is there in sierra Vista . All this metal is in the air.. now they will have mines and more metal dusts blowing everywhere...don't let the beautiful views, weather fool you..This is a city that is a cancer risk to those who live there!!!!

  2. Anonymous5:58 AM

    Any scientifically proven evidence that is the root cause
    for these illness. Correct management of waste water from mining reduces alot of contamination in ground water, and as for the air bag houses should catch most of the particles. Most mines are good stewards for protecting the environment. It's a shame that some have given mining a bad rep.