MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — Clay from a volcanic eruption 8,000 years ago may become a beauty product or health aid.
Ray Huckaba, of Grants Pass, has filed plans with the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest to excavate and test a thick deposit of the sulfur-enriched clay mineral from a mine near the town of Prospect.
The mineral, epithermal argillite, was left after Mount Mazama erupted, the Medford Mail Tribune reported. The newspaper was unable to reach Huckaba, but a forest official said he's discussed his plans.
"Some of the things he mentioned to us that he wants to use it for would be as a beauty products and for medicinal purposes," said Kerwin Dewberry, ranger in charge of the High Cascades Ranger District. "To have someone looking at this mineral for a beauty product or a health aid is very interesting."
Preliminary research has shown the material may have anti-bacterial properties, officials said.
In plans filed with the government, Huckaba said he wants to remove and test some 20,000 cubic yards from the site.
About 3 1/2 acres of the 5-acre mining site already have been cleared of vegetation by previous mining activities.
The mine's five-month operating season would be from June 1 to Nov. 1 and last up to five years. Dump trucks would take the material to White City, where it would be placed in a semitrailer and taken to a processing plant.
A 30-day public comment period on the proposed operating plan ends Saturday.
The material, part of a large deposit of sulfurized mineral created by volcanic action during the time when Mount Mazama erupted to create Crater Lake, contains naturally cooked sulfur, iron, silica and trace elements.
Huckaba originally filed a claim in the area in 1981 and had his operating plan approved, but it expired, said Kevin Johnson, mining geologist for the Rogue River-Siskiyou and Fremont-Winema national forests.
In the past, clay from the area has been offered as a soil additive and for making roofing tiles.
Now, officials are trying to figure out what which mining and minerals laws regulate the uses that Huckaba has proposed.
The minerals are subject to different restrictions depending on the intended use, officials said.
When Huckaba's mining operation is finished, he will have to rehabilitate the site to avoid erosion that could pollute the watershed, Dewberry said.
Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press