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world, 31 and 18 percent of which are in the Congo and New Caledonia,

respectively; Cuba has 15 percent of world reserves.

Only a small

amount of cobalt is recycled; consequently, the industrial nations are

almost completely dependent on two distant sources for their cobalt


Manganese imports toughness to steel, and when added with nickel

to copper produces the hardest and strongest copper alloy. The United

States has no reserves of manganese.

No manganese is recovered in the

metallic form for recycling. Of the world reserves, about 45 and 30

percent, respectively, are in South Africa and the Soviet Union.


are, however, other sources of sunply (Congo, Gabon, India, Brazil, and

Australia) which make the manganese supply problem, at least for the next

few decades, considerably less troublesome than it otherwise might be.


Fluorspar is a mineral containing fluorine. It is used in the mineral form as a flux in steel-making and aluminum nroduction and as an

opacifier and flux in glass-making; it is also used as a source of

fluorine compounds used in refrigeration. About 80 percent of domestic

consumption is imnorted, chiefly from Mexico.

The U.S. Bureau of Mines has estimated that known U.S. resources of

fluorsnar will be exhausted by 1995 or 1997 and that resources in the

rest of the world may be exhausted even sooner, say by 1986 or 1987.

Consumption of fluorine in aluminum metallurgy, which now accounts for

about 20 percent of the total demand, is expected to be the major end

use for this mineral by the year 2000. There are no known substitutes

for fluorspar in its major uses.

The industrializ

ion of emerging

nations will put an additional demand on the world supply.


It is hoped that, as present world reserves near exhaustion, price

increases for fluorspar will stimulate exploration and discovery and

will allow the recovery of fluorine from phosphate rock. Most of the

fluorine in U.S. phosphate rock, which contains an average of about 3

percent, is wasted by present methods of processing. An economic process

for recovering fluorine from phosphate rock would increase U.S. reserves

some 50 times and provide an escape from the scarcity trap the nation

appears to be headed for.


The future importance of helium is well summarized in the following

quotation from Harold Lipper of the U.S. Bureau of Mines (in Mineral Facts

and Problems, 1970, p.79),

"Helium, a gas with a combination of unique properties,
is indispensable in the fields of science and engineering at
low temperatures. Potential developments such as super-
conducting power transmission and low-cost magnetohydro-
dynamic power generation, and present accomplishments in
manned space and undersea exploration would be more difficult,
if not impossible, without helium. Helium is produced...
from natural gas, where it occurs as a minor constituent.
The known supply of helium from relatively rich natural gas
sources... is limited. Most of these known helium-bearing
natural gas resources are being depleted to supply fuel
markets and will be largely exhausted by about 1990."

Helium in storage under the U.S. Government's helium conservation

program probably will be adequate to meet domestic demand until the

year 2000. Helium undoubtedly will become more costly by that time

and recovery from low-grade sources, substitution where practicable,

reclamation and reuse will contribute to meeting demand.

There appears,

however, to be considerable room for doubt that these measures will

suffice to provide helium enough to supply the needs for which it may

still be indispensable.

In 1969, the Bureau of Mines, in an effort to


locate new supplies, analyzed 443 natural gas samples from fields and

wells in 23 states and eight foreign countries, without success.


The proved reserves of uranium ore in the United States are not

sufficient to support predicted increases in nuclear power generation

to the year 2000, with existing nuclear technology which makes use only of the comparatively rare isotope u235. Although the R/P ratio at the

end of 1971 was 21 and rising, the proved reserves at that time were

sufficient only to supply the AEC's forecast of commercial requirements

through 1982. Additional uranium calculated to become available at a

25 percent increase in price would meet the forecast demand only one

additional year.

If the average additions-to-reserves rate of the 1967-71

period were to be maintained through 1987, all of the potential reserves (at the higher price) estimated by the AEC in 1971 would have been found

and would provide for fueling the growing nuclear-power capacity only to


It will be surprising if the present estimated potential-reserve

total becomes ore by 1988. Nuclear powerplants now under construction

and planned will be the beneficiaries of unusually penetrating geologic

foresight and some luck if they do not have to shut down or assume much

higher fuel costs well before their useful life of 40 years or so is


The hope has been that an efficient and safe breeder reactor would

be developed so that its commercial proliferation in powerplants could begin about 1980. Such reactors, using much more of the energy in

natural uranium ore than do the present generation, would extend existing

reserves at least 60 times and would make ore out of a great tonnage of


low-grade uranium material. But it now appears that such proliferation will not take place until after 1990, If it does occur then, there will

be a great draft on existing uranium stocks and new ore in order to build

up the large fuel inventories required for efficient breeding. Operators

of the breeder plants may be able to pay prices for available supplies

so high that the older plants, which will have to meet those prices to

obtain fuel, will become seriously uneconomic producers of electricity.

This problem does not seem to have been explored thoroughly by those who

will pay for the nuclear plants now being built or planned.

The relation of national strength to resource depletion

Agricultural production, industrial activity, consumer choice and

military strength depend upon minerals.

The great agricultural productivity of the United States depends upon mechanization and fertilizer. The tractors, plows, harrows, seeders, and harvesters are made of metals and are powered by petroleum products.

The Department of Agriculture estimates that 4.02 billion gallons of

gasoline and 2.45 billion gallons of diesel fuel will be used directly

in U.S. agriculture in 1973.

Fertilizers are largely mineral; phosphate

rock, naturally-occurring potash salts, gypsum, peat, and sulfur are mineral materials; only nitrogen among the important fertilizing elements is not supplied primarily from mineral deposits, and its production

requires a good deal of energy.

The importance of minerals to industrial activity lies in the myriad

useful properties of the metals and construction minerals and in the

production of cheap energy from the fossil fuels and uranium.

It was no

accident that the Industrial Revolution flowered in Great Britain.


its area, no nation on earth has had major deposits of iron ore and coal


so widely distributed as did Great Britain in the early years of the 18th

century. The British Empire grew out of those deposits.

Consumer choice is reflected in the availability of food, goods, and

energy in such abundance that one does not need to consider efficiency

of resource use in their selection and use.

One may choose to eat steak

or heat a room by electricity, without regard to the fact that both are

inefficient ways of using energy. One may choose to operate a heavy

automobile for the transport of himself alone or to buy razor blades which

contain small amounts of platinum, a scarce metal, without regard to the

depletion thus induced.

In the United States, the automobile is perhaps the outstanding

symbol of consumer choice as well as an important element of industrial

activity. In 1969 the manufacture of automobiles accounted for 8.3

percent of the U.S. consumption of copper and copper alloys, 9.9 percent

of the aluminum consumption, 11.2 percent of the nickel consumption, 19.4 percent of the iron and steel consumption, and 32.5 percent of the

zinc consumption.

The operation of motor vehicles accounts for more

than half of the petroleum products in the United States, and for about

15 percent of the total energy consumed.

The importance of nonrenewable resources to military strength

hardly needs elucidation. Military weapons, explosives and projectiles,

tanks, planes and naval vessels are made of, and powered by, mineral

materials. During intensive phases of the Viet Nam war, the U.S. Air

Force consumed more fuel than the entire civilian aviation sector.

As domestic mineral resources become depleted, the traditional

action of a consuming country has been to secure access to foreign mineral resources, by military conquest, commercial initiative, or both.

While the consuming nations were few and the producing nations were

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