Nearly 70 years have passed since Arthur Taggart completed the “Handbook of Mineral Dressing,” and more than 85 have gone by since his “Handbook of Ore Dressing” was first published. But despite nearly an entire century passing between then and now, Taggart’s works remain essential text for almost every aspect of the aggregates industry.
“The handbooks embody the evolution of the art of ore dressing to the science and technology of mineral processing,” says John Bennington, district manager at Metso. “Taggart was the primary contributor to this evolution.”
Bennington keeps one of Taggart’s handbooks in his office, and he’s used it multiple times throughout his career.
“When I was at GreyStone, I used it to redesign their screws to meet the specs that were needed,” Bennington says. “He wrote the textbook on how to do this stuff. He did most of the modern crushing and screening.”
Taggart, who was born in 1884, spent some of his early years at Stanford, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in 1909 and an engineering management degree in 1910. Taggart took to mining early, gaining experience as a machine operator, mill sampler and surveyor at different mines in the Western United States. During one stretch of his early career, he even worked in South America as a designer and consultant for the opening of some of the continent’s great 20th century mines.
But Taggart’s career shifted to the classroom, specifically to Yale from 1911 to 1919, and later to Columbia, where he served as professor of ore dressing. It was while at Columbia when Taggart began compiling practical information from milling operations for his “Handbook of Ore Dressing.” Today, the handbook represents the great shift from ore dressing as an art to mineral processing as a science.
The “Handbook of Ore Dressing” was updated and once again published as the “Handbook of Minerals Processing” in 1945. Many of today’s producers and manufacturers still reference the handbook as their mineral processing bible.
“I don’t know what was going on back then, but somebody was eating their Wheaties from 1880 to 1910,” Bennington says. “My degree is in aerospace originally, and almost all of the airplane stuff we use today is from the 1800s too.”
“None of us are mining engineers, but even to the lay observer the handbook seems like a monumental work,” says Christopher Hall, one of Taggart’s grandsons. “To think that it was largely his original thinking and that many of the processes and devices described in detail were of his own design is even more impressive.”
In addition to his aggregates industry contributions, Taggart was a botanist, chemist, photographer and champion golfer.