Map showing areas with potential for talc deposits in the Gravelly, Greenhorn, and Ruby ranges and the Henrys Lake Mountains of southwestern Montana

Open-File Report 98-224- B
By: , and 



For the last several years, Montana has been the leading talc producing state in the United States (U.S. Geological Survey, 1996). For example, in 1992 Montana supplied about 40 percent of the U.S. mine production of talc (Virta, 1992). All of this production has come from the large deposits of high purity talc in the southwestern part of the state. All Montana talc is currently (1997) extracted from four mines, each within the study area of this map—the open pit operations of the Treasure State, Regal, and Yellowstone mines and the underground operation of the Beaverhead mine (see map numbers 1-4 on list and map to the left). The related mineral chlorite is mined at the Antler mine, located nearby, but outside of the study area in the Highland Mountains. Montana talc has at least two market advantages: (1) some deposits are very large and near surface, allowing economic mining by open pit methods; and (2) the deposits are of high purity and lack tremolite or other amphibole mineral contaminants (such as absestos) that occur in some other talc-rich deposits. Talc from southwest Montana is used in ceramics, paint, paper, plastics, cosmetics, rubber, roofing, flooring, caulking, and agricultural applications. The talc is also used in the processes of recycling paper and plastics. Talc was first discovered in the early 1900's at the present site of the Yellowstone mine (Perry, 1948, p. 9). Modest production began in 1942 from shallow pits and adits, supplying steatite (massive, compact, high-purity) talc that was used to make ceramic insulators. The southwest Montana talc industry grew to become a significant part of the region's economy; this history is described by Perry (1948), Olson (1976), and Berg (1997). Exploration and development are likely to continue for the foreseeable future for several reasons: (1) mines are active in the area at present and an infrastructure for talc processing exists; (2) large changes in domestic and export talc markets are not expected in the next few years based on recent market trends (Virta, 1997); (3) the talc of this region is especially pure and asbestos-free; and (4) except for potential ground stabilization problems and land disturbance associated with largescale open pit mining, no significant environmental impacts are associated with talc mining

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Map showing areas with potential for talc deposits in the Gravelly, Greenhorn, and Ruby ranges and the Henrys Lake Mountains of southwestern Montana
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 98-224
Chapter B
DOI 10.3133/ofr98224B
Year Published 1998
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Eastern Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center
Description map 87 x 112 cm
Country United States
State Montana
Scale 250000