« ÎnapoiContinuă »
The Asbestos Corporation of America, which has invested a large amount of capital on its property near Hyde Park, Vt., has suspended operations after operating its mill for an experimental run. The company has failed to give a report of operations, but it is understood that a reorganization will be made.
No subject is of greater importance to asbestos miners in the United States than the prices of the several grades of asbestos, which not merely affect the amount of profit in operations but determine whether deposits of certain grades can be mined. "Crude” chrysotile could not be mined at a profit at the prices prevailing in 1923, whereas the conditions for the production of shorter grades of milled
fiber” were more favorable than in 1922, and correspondingly there was a good opportunity for marketing grades of domestic amphibole asbestos which compete with the shortest grades of Canadian fiber.”
The prices of Canadian chrysotile asbestos (f. o. b. Quebec), which control domestic prices, are shown in Figure 14. These figures are based on a balanced average of the weekly quotations of the Engineering and Mining Journal-Press. The curves are plotted on such a scale that the relative proportional change in price of any two grades is shown by comparing the slope of the curves. The method of grading asbestos is described in Mineral Resources for 1920, Part II,
The causes of the variations in the relative prices of the different grades of asbestos are to be found in the competitive conditions of world trade. Before the World War the supply for the United States came almost entirely from Quebec and that of Europe from the Ural Mountains of Russia. During the war the normal European supply from Russia was cut off, and at first the deficiency had to be made up from Canadian sources, while at the same time there was an increased demand for asbestos products
. This restricted supply and strong demand led to a remarkable rise in prices, especially of “crude. The price of No. 1 "crude,” which in 1913 was about $275 a ton,
" rose almost steadily to a maximum in the later part of 1920 and early part of 1921, when certain varieties were quoted at $3,500 a ton. During this period the exploitation of asbestos deposits in South Africa greatly increased, as shown in the table on page 349. The development of these deposits showed two phases, dependent first on the increased use of the two varieties of amphibole asbestos, crocidolite (blue) and amosite (brown), and second on the discovery of deposits of high-grade long-fiber chrysotile. The South African fields are briefly described on pages 349–350. Methods of using the blue crocidolite were worked out first in Europe, where the blue fiber was mixed with the much more expensive chrysotile in some products and used alone in others. In the United States during the period of high prices the blue fiber came to be used in yarns made largely of chrysotile, but as the blue fiber requires different treatment from chrysotile and at best is inferior in high-grade textiles, it could not long compete with “crude” chrysotile, although it was instrumental
For a brief description of the different varieties of asbestos, see U. S. Geol. Survey Mineral Resources, 1920, pt. 2, p. 311, 1923.
in breaking the price. More important still was the development of the chrysotile deposits of southern Rhodesia and the Carolina district of Transvaal. The fiber of these deposits is of exceptional length and good quality. Although most of it is not as soft as that of Quebec, a small difference in price was all that was necessary to insure
FIGURE 14.-Prices of Canadian asbestos "crude" and "Aber," 1. o. b. Quebec, 1920–1923
DOLLARS PER SHORT TON
The competition between the Canadian and Rhodesian chrysotile has remained so keen as to bring the price of Canadian "crude” to the point where there is little if any profit in mining it. At the same time crocidolite has come into active competition with the longer grades of Canadian milled "fiber,” for in some uses the greater length of the blue fiber more than offsets the greater softness of the equally priced grades of chrysotile. The result of this competition has placed the Canadian industry in an extremely precarious condition, which can be remedied only by an advance in the prices of the shorter grades of milled fiber," with which there is no foreign competition. The prices of these grades have remained firm or have even shown slight advances, in spite of very keen competition between the Canadian
producers themselves. The outlook for the domestic industry may be briefly summed up: There is little prospect for a substantial advance in the prices of “crude” or the longest grades of milled “fiber.” The Arizona operator can not play a waiting game. In that field conditions are now as favorable as they are likely to be in the near future, except for possible changes in the cost of mining and transportation, and these will probably not be sufficient to affect greatly the value of any property. On the other hand, the prospects for the miner of mass-fiber amphibole asbestos are exceptionally bright. The prices of Canadian fiber, with which the product will have to compete, are likely to remain firm or possibly to advance.
IMPORTS AND EXPORTS 2
In the foregoing table the countries given as the sources are merely the countries from which asbestos was last shipped as shown by the invoices or manifests from which the records of imports were compiled. It is probable that Rhodesia and the Union of South Africa were the actual sources of all imports except those credited to Canada, Italy, and Brazil.
2 Figures for imports and exports compiled by J. A. Dorsey, of the United States Geological Survey, from records of the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce.
The exports of unmanufactured asbestos in 1923 were 680 short tons, valued at $48,525. The exports of manufactured asbestos were as follows:
Manufactured asbestos products exported from the United States in 1923
PRODUCTION IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES
Union of South Africa -
New South Wales
• Southern Rhodesia Sec. Mines Ann. Repts. Sec. Mines, etc., Ann. Repts. Dept. Mines Repts. « Dept. Mines, Review of mining operations. • Sec. Mines Repts: 11919-1922, Sec. Mines Repts., 1923, official data furnished by Undersecretary for Mines. Bur. Statistics; 1922–1923, Quebec, Dept. Colonization, Mines, and Fisheries, Report on mining opera
• 1919 1920, Canada, Dept. Mines, Mines Branch, Ann. Repts. of mineral production; 1921, Dominion
Figures not yet available.
Jan. 14, 1922. • 19191922, Rivista del servizio minerario; 1923, official data furnished by Ministry of National Economy. P New Zealand Dept. Mines. Less than half a ton. • 1920–1921, Min. Jour., London, Apr. 8, 1922; 1922–1923, Gornyi Zhurnal, Nos. 3-4, 1923, and No. 3,1924.
Philippine Bur. Sci., Div. Mines, Mineral Resources. · Estadistica minera de España.
More asbestos was mined in 1923 than in any preceding year. The total was about 234,400 metric tons (equivalent to about 258,400 short tons). This is an increase of 39 per cent over the world's production in 1922 and of 22 per cent over the production of the previous record year, 1920. Of the total production in 1923, Canada produced 84 per cent, Rhodesia produced 8 per cent, and the Union of South Africa 3 per cent.
The report entitled “Mining operations in the province of Quebec during the year 1923"3 contains unusually full statistical information, as well as an excellent account of recent developments in the field. The geologic setting of the deposits and the methods of development are also briefly
described. The report contains information on costs, extraction, and practice, which should be of interest to all engaged in asbestos mining in the United States. The following table is taken from this report:
The quantity of rock mined and hoisted during 1923 was 3,726,744 short tons, of which 3,082,394 tons was milled. The remaining rock, amounting to 17.3 per cent of the rock hoisted, was sent to the dump. The extraction of fiber was 117 pounds to the ton of rock mined and hoisted. Expressed in percentages the recovery was 5.85 per cent of the rock mined and 7.1 per cent of the rock milled. The large scale and high efficiency of the industry are shown by the fact that the average yield per ton of rock mined and hoisted was only $1.42 worth of asbestos.
SOUTH AFRICA The size and stability of the South African asbestos industry are shown by the figures in the table on page 347. The industry in South Africa was far less affected by the post-war depression than that in Canada. Indeed, as pointed out in the section on prices, it was the ability of the South African producers to undersell the Canadians that contributed largely to the great slump in prices in 1920. The rise of the asbestos industry in South Africa is shown by the figures in the following table:
3 Published by the Quebec Dept. Colonization, Mines, and Fisheries, Bureau of Mines.