UP FROM THE BED OF A DESERT SEA tells the story of the New Mexico based potash mine run by the International Mineral and Chemical Corporation of Carlsbad (now known as IMC Global). Released in 1952 or 53, the film is a fascinating portrait of mining in the post-WWII era. Potash is any of various mined and manufactured salts that contain potassium in water-soluble form. The name derives from pot ash, which refers to plant ashes soaked in water in a pot, the primary means of manufacturing the product before the industrial era. The word potassium is derived from potash. In addition to its use as a fertilizer, potassium chloride is important in many industrialized economies, where it is used in aluminium recycling, by the chloralkali industry to produce potassium hydroxide, in metal electroplating, oil-well drilling fluid, snow and ice melting, steel heat-treating, in medicine as a treatment for hypokalemia, and water softening. Potassium hydroxide is used for industrial water treatment and is the precursor of potassium carbonate, several forms of potassium phosphate, many other potassic chemicals, and soap manufacturing. Potassium carbonate is used to produce animal feed supplements, cement, fire extinguishers, food products, photographic chemicals, and textiles. It is also used in brewing beer, pharmaceutical preparations, and as a catalyst for synthetic rubber manufacturing. These non-fertilizer uses have accounted for about 15% of annual potash consumption in the United States.
Potash is produced worldwide at amounts exceeding 30 million tonnes per year, mostly for use in fertilizers. Various types of fertilizer-potash thus constitute the single largest global industrial use of the element potassium. Potassium was first derived by electrolysis of caustic potash (aka potassium hydroxide), in 1808.
The International Minerals & Chemical Corporation was incorporated in June 1909 as International Agricultural Corporation. It initially owned a number of fertilizer manufacturing plants in Tennessee, all of the capital stock of the Kaliwerke Sollstedt Gewerkschaft Potash Mines in Germany, large deposits of phosphate rock in Tennessee, and all of the capital stock in the Prairie Pebble Phosphate Company in Florida. It added manufacturing plants in Alabama, Georgia, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee within the first few years.
In April 1942 the company merged with United Potash & Chemical Corporation, a subsidiary engaged in the mining and refining of potash salt as well as the production of potassium chloride, potassium sulphate (both fertilizer ingredients), and magnesium chloride, the base for making magnesium metal.
The period during World War II was good for International Minerals, as competing imports from Germany were suspended. The company continued to perform well in the postwar period. In 1947, reflecting record demand for fertilizer, International Minerals reported the best year ever with sales over $50 million, up from $41.3 million the year prior. To take advantage of the heavy demand, the company embarked on a $21 million program to expand production, including new plants such as one in San Jose, California, to make monosodium glutamate, a seasoning agent.
The company continued to achieve new records for sales and earnings during the 1950s and 1960s. Sales were $93.6 million in 1954; ten years later, in 1964, sales were $225.7 million.
International Minerals began acquiring other companies in the mid-1960s. In December 1966 it acquired the manufacturing assets of E.J. Lavino & Company, makers of refractories for the steel industry. In 1968 it added both Chemicals, Inc., of Bartow, Florida, and Continental Ore Corporation of New York. These acquisitions helped lift sales from $299.3 million in 1966 to $501.8 million only two years later.
International Minerals & Chemical Corporation had become a leading producer of mineral and chemical products for industry and agriculture by 1975. It had operations in thirty-five states, as well as in Canada and fifteen other foreign countries.
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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com