An after picture:
And some amused spectators:
Then we headed back into the mine to the bottom of the pit to view the raw materials. There, we found three types of minerals: ulexite, kernite and tincal (pronounced like tinkle). People had a lot of fun asking questions like "What color is tincal?" and "How much tincal do you produce?". Ulexite is interesting because it can be referred to as TV rock. The mineral received this nickname because a pure piece of it will generate a double image. Most of the borax-enriched minerals were white and some even sparkled in the sunlight. The only rocks that deviated from this description were a few rare pieces that contained arsenic and were root beer-colored.
Here's an up close picture of kernite:
When the borax mine first opened in the late 1800s, 20 mule teams pulled loads of the material to the customers. The mine had a cool representation of this in its museum parking lot.
Surprisingly, the wastewater comes into the plant as 99% water and 1% other materials, but its important to clean the water so fishing, swimming, and the environment can be protected at Lake Mead. The 1% includes wrappers, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and of course, poo.
And last but not least, here are a few of my favorite pictures of the American southwest from along our journey.
At the Oceanview mine in Pala, CA:
At the Las Vegas wastewater treatment plant:
And at the Simplot Silica mine in Overton, NV: