General view of a section of the Vanadium Corporation of America facilities near White Canyon in San Juan County, Utah. Uranium and vanadium were mined from the sandstone canyons and used to produce crude vanadium oxide and crude uranium oxide.
Vanadium, a malleable transition metal, was discovered in its natural state in Mexico by Spanish-Mexican scientist, engineer, and naturalist Andrés Manuel del Río (1764-1849) in 1801, though it was not isolated and recognized as an element until 1830. Following the discovery of a large deposit of vanadium in the Peruvian Andes in 1905, vanadium became commercially viable and significantly impacted the steel industry. In 1906, the American Vanadium Company (later the Vanadium Corporation of America) was organized to mine the new deposit, known as Mina Ragra, and use of vanadium to produce specialty steel alloys quickly became widespread, particularly in the burgeoning automobile industry.
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Vanadium Corporation of America. “Vanadium Corporation White Canyon Plant,” 1953–1963. Vanadium Corporation of America Photograph Collection, Box 1. Science History Institute. Philadelphia. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/z029p530m.
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