Florida Phosphate Mining Goes Back to 1883

While modern equipment and safety features are key today, back then it was wheelbarrows, picks, and shovels.

When we think of mining, we think of all the modern equipment and safety features we have today. But did you know that Florida phosphate mining dates back as far as 1883? In fact, the first hard rock deposits were found near Hawthorne in Alachua County. At its beginning, the only tools men had to work with were wheelbarrows, picks, and shovels.

As the years went on, they began to use mule-drawn scrapers, and between 1900 and 1905 mechanized excavation began with the invention of steam shovels. These shovels increased the daily work production by accomplishing in one day the same amount that 80 men could have done by hand.  

Stark Difference Between Then and Now
Steam continued to influence Florida phosphate mining until the 1920s when the mining operation was changed significantly, and the use of electricity and diesel power introduced draglines. These draglines became known as the most economical and efficient way to mine land pebble and hard rock regions. In fact, today one dragline mines about 15 acres a month, compared to the 1900s when it took a year to mine the same distance.

After the draglines became so successful, separation advancements had to be made also in order to keep up with the draglines. So, between 1920 and 1940, improvements were made in preparing matrix for washing and screen, finer screens were used, and equipment capacity increased. In 1927 the development of flotation became the most important chance as they were able to separate the phosphate rock from sand based on the difference in water aversiveness. These separation advancements allowed companies to increase their profits by salvaging phosphate particles that they had before hand been throwing out as useless.  

Since these developments, most mining companies have just been refining the dragline and flotation process, but as technology increases so does the phosphate mining company’s ability to learn and develop new advances in the mining process.

When we think of the extreme hard labor the men went through back then, compared what mining looks like today, it makes us incredibly grateful for the technology and safety requirements that are in place today. That’s why we here at Safety Solutions and Supply  are proud to offer different training services. Through these services, we hope to train and equip your employees so that you can continue to improve and grow as a work force as the years go by. For more information or if you have any questions give us a call today at 866-537-2262.

Safety Solutions & Supply
314 E. Canal St. (State Road 60)
Mulberry, Florida 33860
Email: [email protected]

Posted in Safety.