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Summary of statistics of carbon black from natural gas in the United States,

1919-1923

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69

101, 398, 881 20, 038, 415 16, 825, 352

Number of producers.

17
19
23

26 Number of plants..

36
35
41

43
Quantity produced:
Louisians.

-pounds.. 14, 024, 606 18, 565, 498 31, 003, 615 41, 966, 856 West Virginia.

..do..

29, 925, 614 26, 659, 469 25, 073, 000 20,095, 481 Other States.

.do..
8, 106, 721
6,096, 925

3,689, 700 5, 732, 792 Total.

..do.... 52,056, 941 51, 321, 892 59, 708, 315 67, 795, 129 Value at plants: Total.

dollars. 3, 816, 040

4,032, 286 5, 445, 878 5, 819, 618 Average per pound.

cents

7.3
7.9
9. 1

&6 Estimated quantity of natural gas used,

-M cubic feet. 49, 896, 000 40, 599, 000 50, 565,000 53, 629,000
Average yield per M cubic feet ..-pounds.. 1.0

1.3
1. 2

1.3

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By JEFFERSON MIDDLETON

INTRODUCTION

The domestic graphite-mining industry in the United States in 1923 profited by the general prosperity of that year and made considerable gain in output. Both quantity and value showed large increases compared with 1922, though they did not of course reach the high figures of the war period. Imports followed the same general trend, and exports of domestic graphite also showed a large increase. Prices remained about the same as in 1922.

The occurrence, properties, and uses of graphite have been discussed so thoroughly in previous volumes of Mineral Resources that repetition is not necessary. For those interested in these phases of the subject the following list of some of the more important papers is given:

Graphite, by J. H. Pratt: Mineral Resources, 1904, pp. 1157–1167, 1905.

Graphite (properties, origin, uses, deposits, artificial graphite, bibliography), by E. S. Bastin: Mineral Resources, 1908, pt. 2, pp. 717-738, 1909.

Graphite (properties, origin, uses, deposits, artificial graphite, bibliography), by E. S. Bastin: Mineral Resources, 1909, pt. 2, pp. 809-840, 1911.

Graphite (properties, origin, manufactured graphite, uses, foreign deposits, with map of Ceylon, bibliography), by E. S. Bastin: Mineral Resources, 1911, pt. 2, pp. 1079–1112, 1912.

Graphite (foreign deposits, bibliography), by E. S. Bastin: Mineral Resources, 1913, pt. 2, pp. 181-251, 1914.

Graphite (select bibliography), by E. S. Bastin: Mineral Resources, 1914, pt. 2, pp. 159–174, 1916.

Graphite (bibliography), by H. G. Ferguson: Mineral Resources, 1917, pt. 2, pp. 97-101, 1920.

Graphite (foreign deposits, map showing principal deposits of the world, bibliography), by H. G. Ferguson: Mineral Resources, 1918, pt. 2, pp. 223–265, 1921.

Graphite, by L. M. Beach, with a history of graphite mining in Pennsylvania, by_F. Bascom: Mineral Resources, 1919, pt. 2, pp. 309–324, 1922.

Foreign graphite, by A. H. Redfield: Mineral Resources, 1919, pt. 2, pp. 181-210, 1922.

These reports are not available for free distribution, but may be consulted in the principal libraries of the United States.

Two papers published by the Bureau of Mines 1 indicate that superior pots for melting steel and brass may be made of domestic graphites and bond clays.

1 Stull, R. T., and Bole, G. A., Graphite for steel-melting, crucibles: Bur. Mines Repts. Inv. 2512, August, 1923. stull, R. T., and Geyer, L. E., Graphite for brass-melting crucibles: Bur. Mines Repts. Inv. 2542, November, 1923. 9786°—26-27

91

A recent statement by Prof. Benjamin Le Roy Miller, of the de partment of geology, Lehigh University, is a good résumé of the graphite situation and is quoted in full below.

In the discussion of the present situation with reference to almost any of our economic mineral products it is necessary to review the records of the past 10 years or more for a proper appreciation of present conditions. The pre-war, war, and postwar periods afford striking contrasts in practically every industry based on our raw minerals, and so rapidly did we pass from one period to another that it is not surprising to find a great unsettling of conditions and consequent hardships resulting. Graphite was one of the important

war minerals, although a minor one from the standpoint of quantity consumed, and the graphite industry accordingly responded quickly to the enormously increased demand occasioned by the war and slumped with equal rapidity at its sudden termination. The prewar situation was simple, the war problems complex and confused, and the postwar conditions demoralizing.

Graphite is distinctly an international mineral product. It is found in almost every country in the world but is not mined for export in most of them and is utilized in any considerable quantities only in the manufacturing countries of western Europe and the United States. Indeed, two of the countries where there are extensive graphite-manufacturing interests, France and England, have been entirely dependent upon foreign supplies of graphite, and every manufacturing country in pre-war times looked to one or more foreign countries for the supply of certain kinds of graphite.

During the war several of the countries attempted to make themselves independent through the development of domestic mines. Germany, because of necessity, succeeded in doing so, and the United States made strong strides in that direction, while France was able to dispense with practically all foreign supplies other than that obtained from its colony Madagascar. In the period following the armistice there has been a tendency to return to pre-war usages, yet not entirely, as the stream of trade once diverted seldom returns to the old channel.

The crystalline graphite of international importance is produced in Ceylon, Madagascar, the United States, and Canada and is mainly used in the manufacture of crucibles for the steel and brass industries, with the poorer grades used for lubricants, paint, stove polish, and foundry facings. Amorphous graphite comes mainly from Czechoslovakia (Bohemia principally, but some from Moravia), Austria, Chosen (Korea), Italy, the United States, and Mexico and is used for foundry facings, lubricants, stove polish, pencils, and paint. Artificial (or manufactured) graphite is made only in the United States and is principally used in the production of electrodes.

In addition to this classification we must recognize different varieties. Of crystalline graphite there are two distinct kinds, each adapted for a particular

Ceylon produces vein graphite that has long been considered so superior to any other form of graphite for crucible manufacture that it has dominated in that field. In Montana there is a deposit of similar material, but up to the present time of little economic importance. Madagascar, the United States, and Canada produce mainly a variety of crystalline graphite that occurs as disseminated thin flakes in highly metamorphosed rocks.

Before the war flake graphite was used sparingly for crucibles, but, due to the difficulty of getting the Ceylon variety during the war, French, German, and Austrian graphite-crucible manufacturers substituted flake graphite almost entirely, and in England and the United States the manufacturers used the flake material in larger proportions than before. Certainly there has been a change of sentiment in regard to the necessity of Ceylon graphite for crucibles, although in the United States the crucible manufacturers seem to still favor it rather than the domestic or Madagascar flake that is more easily obtainable. This is true in spite of the fact that experiments conducted by the United States Bureau of Mines have seemed to indicate that domestic flake graphite from Alabama was equal if not superior to the Ceylon variety. If this is true, the situation of the manufacturers clinging to the continued use of a higher-priced and perhaps inferior product is an anomalous one and may be due to their conservatism or to their lack of knowledge as to how to get the best results from flake graphite. Whatever the explanation, it is certain that they are still unconvinced that they can entirely substitute the flake variety for the Ceylon without injuring the quality of their crucibles, and at the present time there is not sufficient evidence to say whether they are right or wrong.

use.

2 The graphite situation: Cement, Mill, and Quarry, vol. 24, No. 4, pp. 78–79, Feb. 20, 1924.

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The users of amorphous graphite are less discriminating, but they, too, show preferences for the products of certain countries for special purposes. The best example of this is the Mexican graphite, formed by the metamorphism of a coal bed brought about by an intrusion of igneous rock, which is preferred above all other graphite by the pencil manufacturers of the world.

The graphite industry of the United States has had its ups and downs to probably a greater degree than any one of our other mineral industries.

Indeed, so much money has been lost in graphite ventures in Canada, New York, Pennsylvania, Alabama, and Texas that among many people the mineral itself is no blacker than the reputation of the graphite industry. In every one of these regions abandoned mines and decaying concentrating mills bear witness to the unwise investments of capital. In fact, it is doubtful whether among the hundred or more companies formed to exploit the domestic graphite deposits there are more than four or five that have returned the capital invested, and many has congratulated himself when he has succeeded in selling his interests to someone less familiar with the difficulties of the business.

In many cases the history is about as follows: The discovery of graphitebearing rock leads to the formation of a company in which all the stockholders are certain that the profits will be extremely high, due to the early capture of all the American markets supplied by foreign concerns. A mill for concentrating the graphite is soon built at a cost of from $25,000 to $75,000 and operations started. After a few days of operation the mill is closed to make adjustments or to replace portions of the machinery in order to effect a more complete recovery or to produce a better product. In some cases for years short periods of running and long periods of repairing and refitting go on, until the working capital is exhausted, the stockholders are disgusted and unwilling to advance more money, and the operations cease. Reorganizations with new capital may be effected, but the same procedure of partial or complete overhauling of the mill equipment at frequent intervals continues.

The war brought about great changes due to the immense demand for crucible graphite and the difficulty of obtaining the foreign product from Ceylon and Madagascar. There was renewed activity and the development of many new properties in the domestic production, especially in Alabama and Texas, followed by almost complete stagnation, which still exists.

The reserves of domestic flake graphite in the United States are very large, more than ample to supply the needs of our consumers for a long period of time. Alabama probably has the largest reserves, with New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas also possessing extensive deposits. The war expansion was confined almost entirely to Alabama and Texas. In the former State large sums of money were invested in expensive mills, and at the close of the war the capacity of the plants was far in excess of the country's needs. Milling methods were being improved, and there was an approach to standardization in the use of oil-flotation processes. When peace came the graphite manufacturers had on hand large stocks of crucibles and raw graphite, and the graphite producers also had large stocks in storage produced at high cost. The demand for crucibles and consequently for raw graphite decreased to almost nothing, and bankruptcy soon faced most of the operators. Graphite that actually cost 14 to 16 cents a pound to produce could not be sold for half that amount.

The domestic industry might have been revived in a few years if it had not been for the large stocks of Madagascar flake that continued to come in. In prewar days it was not necessary to reckon with Madagascar, although imports from that island began to come into the United States in 1908. During the war we first appreciated the importance of that country as a factor in the graphite industry. The deposits are extensive, estimated to be able to furnish from 20,000,000 to 100,000,000 tons of graphite concentrates, and the conditions of mining and concentration are so favorable that it has thus far been possible to put the material in New York at less than the cost of the domestic product. When this situation appeared as a menace to the graphite producers of this country there was a clamor for the levy of a heavy import tariff to avoid the destruction of the domestic industry. Congress responded to the appeal by placing a tariff on imported graphite as follows: Amorphous graphite, 10 per cent ad valorem; crystalline lump, chip, or dust, 20 per cent ad valorem; crystalline flake, 142 cents per pound.

The imposition of this tariff on imports has now been proved to be ineffective, and there is a renewed demand for higher rates. During 1923 some of the best Madagascar graphite after payment of

duty sold in New York for 4 cents a pound less than the cost of production of domestic flake, and the best grade of Ceylon was not much higher. An average of the prevailing New York prices for Ceylon

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graphite, including duty, was lump, 6 cents; chip, 494 to 5 cents; and dust, 3 to 344 cents. In New York the mine of the (Joseph) Dixon Crucible Co. that long held the record for continuous production has been closed. There was slight activity in Alabama and Texas. However, the Madagascar product dominates the situstion.

The outlook for the future of the flake graphite industry is not promising. If the President raises the tariff rates according to the provisions of the flexible tariff law the situation may be improved, but though he should increase the rates to the permissible limit there are probably few companies that can even then compete with the Madagascar producers.

The situation with reference to the amorphous-graphite industry is more favorable. Rhode Island, Michigan, Nevada, and California continue a limited production for foundry facings, paint, and other purposes. The only foreign country that offers serious competition is Chosen (Korea), where a product more desirable for certain purposes is produced, but it can not be marketed at as low a cost as the domestic supply.

PRODUCTION The sales of domestic graphite in the United States rose from 3,125 short tons in 1922 to 6,038 tons in 1923, an increase of 93 per cent. Of this increase the amorphous variety contributed 1,856 tons, which was a gain of 84 per cent, and the crystalline variety contributed 1,057 tons, a gain of 114 per cent. By considering the sales of graphite in five-year periods the effect of the war is clearly discernible. The average total production for the five-year period from 1909 to 1913 (exclusive of graphitic slate from Georgia) was 3,999 short tons; during the war period, from 1914 to 1918, it was 8,745 tons; and from 1919 to 1923 it was 5,706 tons. It will thus be seen that the average of sales during the war period was more than twice as great as that of the preceding five-year period and more than 50 per cent greater than that of the following five-year period. Imports of graphite during the same periods increased from a five-year average of 24,345 short tons for 1909–1913 to 30,014 tons for 1914-1918 and declined to 17,565 tons for 1919–1923.

Domestic natural graphite sold in the United States, 1918-1923

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MANUFACTURED GRAPHITE Graphite is manufactured by the Acheson Graphite Co., at Niagara Falls, N. Y. The figures given below, published by permission of this company, represent only the manufactured graphite that comes into competition with natural graphite.

Graphite manufactured by the Acheson Graphite Co., 1918-1925, in pounds 1918. 9, 182, 272 1921.

5, 888, 000 1919.

8, 163, 177
1922.

13, 031, 926 1920. 7, 399, 749 | 1923..

26, 761, 015

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