How the Stibnite Mining District Shortened WWII

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How the Stibnite Mining District Shortened WWII

During World War II, while many U.S. citizens were sent to Europe and Asia to complete their military service, some were sent to the hills outside of Yellow Pine, Idaho. To continue fighting the war against the Axis Powers, the U.S. desperately needed critical metals such as antimony and tungsten and one of the few places to find these in the U.S. was in Idaho.

WHY WAS TUNGSTEN SO IMPORTANT IN THE WAR?

Tungsten is an incredibly hard metal and it retains its strength at high temperatures. In fact, at 6,152 degrees Fahrenheit, tungsten has the highest melting point of any metal known to man. The Germans tapped into the strength of tungsten by inventing armor-piercing shells. Suddenly, they had bullets that could cut through armored vehicles and even military tanks. This advancement in warfare left the allies scrambling to keep up.

George Nock photo from Bradley Mining Company Collection, photo courtesy Jim Collard

WHERE DOES THE STIBNITE MINING DISTRICT COME IN?

In order to create armor that would keep the Allies safe, and develop bullets to match the Germans, the U.S. needed access to its own source of tungsten. This was difficult because, prior to the war, Germany had made a deal with China and acquired most of their tungsten ore. In the scramble to keep up, the U.S. began looking for a domestic source of tungsten and discovered a significant deposit in the Stibnite Mining District. The U.S. started sending men to the mine in order to harvest this critical mineral as quickly as possible. These men also mined for antimony, another important mineral because of its metal strengthening properties.

Recently, we came across a mention of our project site in the Congressional Record from March 7, 1956. Testimony from Senator Murray echoed what we had read in a Washington Post article from the early 1950s.

“In the opinion of the Munitions Board, the discovery of that tungsten at Stibnite, Idaho, in 1942 shortened World War II by at least 1 year and saved the lives of a million American soldiers.”

You can see the Congressional Record for yourself here. Stibnite’s contribution was so important that Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was then the Allied Commander in Africa, sent a telegram thanking the mine for their help with the war.

While the historic Stibnite Mining District used to have large tungsten reserves, there are none left today, although exploration potential remains. However, there is still significant antimony reserves in the area. Antimony is another mineral key to national defense for its metal strengthening and anti-corrosive properties, as well as use as a flame retardant. Recently, the U.S. government named antimony to its list of critical minerals because of its importance in the national defense and aerospace industries. Tungsten is also on that list. When the Stibnite Gold Project is permitted, we will mine antimony, gold and silver. We believe we would be the only source of primary antimony production in the country.