Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

demand curves off at some point, while other developed and developing nations

will in time follow this same course, circumstances permitting.

There are

two salient points, however, which the report does not stress.

First, there

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,

the

hypothesis suggests a stabilizing of demand in country after country, with

those furthest

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

report.

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

ALUMINUM

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:

(1)

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.

Economic

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

COPPER

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.

The

secondary copper industry is reported to be well organized, with some thing

like 50 percent of U.S. requirements being met from this source.

Mention

is made of nationalization of resources in some countries, but no inferences

[blocks in formation]

In terms of production and consumption, zinc appears to have expanded

somewhat more than copper and less than aluminum, during the period 1950-1970

[blocks in formation]

million metric tons to 5.5 million, and consumption was roughly parallel.

The scrap recovery picture for zinc is similar to that for aluminum:

not

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

prospect.

[blocks in formation]

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

plastics industries.

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,

PETROLEUM)

The report's historical approach and descriptions of the present stance

in petroleum and natural gas, do not do justice to the problem ahead.

With

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

fossil fuels.

(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

« PreviousContinue »