« PreviousContinue »
demand curves off at some point, while other developed and developing nations
will in time follow this same course, circumstances permitting.
two salient points, however, which the report does not stress.
are far from sufficient materials available for all countries to achieve
the level of per capita consumption achieved by the most advanced countries,
particularly since population rates of increase in these less-developed
countries continue to be uninhibited. Second, the hypothetical flattening-out
of the demand curve will presumably occur in different countries at different
times, perhaps accompanied by a flattening-out of population; if true,
hypothesis suggests a stabilizing of demand in country after country, with
behind left with the least materials.
Given these admittedly hypothetical propositions, there could be some
very hard bargaining ahead.. The system has to "give" somewhere, and it is
at least a plausible inference that the largest per capita consuming
countries will have to lower their standards as well as demanding that the
least affluent countries (on a per capita basis) control their population
growth more closely.
RAW MATERIALS FOR STEEL
The notable shift in the world's steel industry is explored quanti
tatively. U.S. imports of ore 1950–1970 rose sixfold, while after the end
of the Korean War, scrap exports doubled.
World reserves of iron, supple
mented from new discoveries and developments, rose to a figure exceeding
250 billion metric tons.
U.S. production of steel remained stable and the
industry did not keep pace with foreign technological developments in the use of oxygen, large ore carriers, and "super-ports". Steel production in the
CRS - 55
"rest of the world" rose at an annual rate of eight percent, from 100 mil
lion metric tons to 476 million.
The implications of these developments are not searched out in the
For example, what lessons should be drawn from U.S. reluctance to
exploit the new technology of oxygen steel-making? Is the United States
at or nearing a point of consumer saturation in steel? What is the signifi
cance for steel demand of the changing patterns of design in the auto in
dus try? What about the relation of steel consumption to the uncertainties
of availability of petroleum supply? Will emphasis on solid waste pro
cessing create new sources of scrap, and compel a shift in steel mill
practice, or will it be found advantageous for larger quantities be ex
ported? What stimulus to u.s. steel production resulted from foreign
military assistance and A.I.D. programs, and what will be the future con
sequences of the "Nixon Doctrine"?
The only conclusions drawn in this section are that world iron reserves
are ample, that costs of processed taconite to U.S. steel-makers
- or, con
versely, of long distance ore shipments - place the United States industry
at a competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis foreign countries.
However, the general u.s. trend in employment away from agricultural,
timber, and mineral extraction, and away from manufacturing, and in the
direction of the service trades and industries, probably has its own pro
found effects on the future of the industry.
A larger number of people to
day are dependent on the product of the steel industry, but fewer and fewer
engage in it,
CRS - 56
Fastest expanding nonferrous industry in the world, aluminum has shown
a growth rate globally of nearly ten percent annually (from 1.9 million
metric tons to 12.5 million) during the period 1950-1970.
In the United
States, refinery output of aluminum metal rose during those years from 0.8
million metric tons to 3.6, while domestic production of bauxite increased
only slightly and reserves dwindled rapidly. Globally, there appears to be
no shortage in prospect of bauxite (and there is a very large secondary
reserve of clay and other alumina-containing materials that are not mentioned
in the report).
The aluminum picture presented is one of a dynamic and rapidly expanding
industry with no signs of saturation as with steel.
However, there are two
areas neglected or touched on only lightly in the report:
The scrap picture, of which it was explained that "available data
are sketchy and incomplete" and "do not allow an accurate analysis." (It
is interesting that metallic aluminum scrap, like copper, is extremely
durable and will continue to accumulate above-ground until it is eventually
collected and recycled.
The fact that aluminum recycling has not yet been
institutionalized very far carries no implication that it won't be.
motivation in this direction appears to be growing.)
(2) Limitations of electric power shortages and the environmental
costs of both electricity generation and aluminum refining, may impose bar
riers on further expansion of primary aluminum capacity in developed countries
as well as further stimulating aluminum recycling.
CRS - 57
Technologically, copper appears to be somewhat more stable than the
other metals considered.
It shows neither the stagnation of steel in the
United States nor the remarkab ly rapid growth in "rest of the world,"
except in Japan (10-fold) and the U.S.S.R. (4-fold).
In the United States,
during the two decades 1950-1970, production of mine copper increased from
0.9 million metric tons to 1.5 million, while the world production more
than doubled, from 2.5 million to six million.
Reserves of copper, even in
the United States, appear to be adequate, and elsewhere even more so.
secondary copper industry is reported to be well organized, with some thing
like 50 percent of U.S. requirements being met from this source.
is made of nationalization of resources in some countries, but no inferences
In terms of production and consumption, zinc appears to have expanded
somewhat more than copper and less than aluminum, during the period 1950-1970
million metric tons to 5.5 million, and consumption was roughly parallel.
The scrap recovery picture for zinc is similar to that for aluminum:
well reported or organized.
With zinc in the United States, a principal
problem is the reduction of refinery capacity (for combined economic/
environmental causes) by half, since 1969, with more refinery closings in
It is not clear why this material was included in the list.
It is a
major nonmetallic mineral, used in the steel, aluminum, and fluorocarbon
Supply was reported as presenting problems, although
these were not precisely characterized, nor were reserves quantified. U.S.
consumption increased from 0.4 million metric tons in 1950 to 1.2 million
in 1970, while the rest of the world increased its consumption from 0.5
million metric tons to 3.1 million.
Consumption is associated with the
large steel and aluminum producing nations, like the United States, Japan,
U.S.S.R., and Germany, while production and reserves are mainly located
in Mexdco, Thailand, Spain, and Italy. Fluorine materials in industry are
creating serious problems of waste management and environmental pollution,
but the report suggests that emphasis on recycling (for both conservation
and environmental quality purposes) will be beneficial.
FUELS (COAL, NATURAL GAS,
The report's historical approach and descriptions of the present stance
in petroleum and natural gas, do not do justice to the problem ahead.
respect to the very large coal reserves in the United States, their span of
usefulness would presumably be reduced if the nation should be required to
turn to them for substitute materials in place of the liquid and gaseous
(In addition, exports of coal might be necessary as a bar
gaining position vis-a-vis nations supplying the United States with essential
materials that are short in this country.) For example, Japan's coking
coal for steel making is supplied mostly from the United States.
The three largest producers and consumers of coal are the United States,
U.S.S.R., and People's Republic of China.
Despite reductions in cnal use