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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals, minerals, and fuels 1972
Year 1972, Volume 1 (1972)

McMahon, Albert D.; Hague, John M.; Babitzke, Herbert R.
Zinc,   pp. 1299-1333 ff. PDF (3.6 MB)

Page 1299

By Albert D. McMahon,' John M. Hague,2 and Herbert R. Babitzkel 
 The producing segments of the domestic zinc industry operated at low levels
in 1972, but the use of zinc almost reached the record high of 1966. A large
number of small and intermittent -producing mines active in 1971 were idle
in 1972, and several significant operations closed, which resulted in an
- annual production loss of 24,000 short -tons. The num-ber of mines reporting
zinc production to the Bureau of Mines declined from 214 in 1970 to 142 in
1971 and 68 in 1972. The new zinc-copper mine in Maine, byproduct zinc from
the Brushy Creek mine in Missouri, and the coming expansion of the Balmat
mine in New York -should reverse the decline in U.S. mine production of recen-t
years. The closure of a slab-zinc-producing plant, the largest electrolytic
zinc refinery in the United States, a 17% drop in zinc concentrate imports
and decreased mine production were the principal reasons for the 140,000
ton decline in smelter production during 1972. This loss of supply was pardaily
replaced by releases of slab zinc from the national stockpile authorized
by Public Law 92—283. Substantial increases in demand for most all
use categories were in response to greater industrial activity in 1972. The
automotive, construction, and appliance industries, the major consumers of
zinc for diecastings, galvanizing, and brass and bronze products - all improved
over 1971. Demand followed the seasonal pattern, -increasing each month to
a high in May, receding during the vacation months of June and July, rising
again -to a peak for the year in October, then declining -for the last 2
months. Record quantities were used: Galvanizing reached a record high; 1972
was the third largest year for zinc diecastings; and for brass products,
1972 was surpassed only by -the World War II years, 1941 through 1945. 
 General Services Administration (GSA) sales of zinc during the first 3 months
1972 depleted the balance authorized under Public Law 89—322. New legislation
for the release of an additional 515,200 tons became law in the latter part
of April after negotiations between GSA and primary producers developed an
agreeable disposal plan. Approximately 190,000 tons were committed from May
-through December. Revisions of the disposal plan will allow depletion of
the -balance by the end of the first quarter of 1974. 
 Total imports (zinc in concentrates plus metal) increased to 777,500 tons,
17% higher than those of 1971: The zinc content of imported concentrates
dedined 26% and imports of metal totaling 522,600 tons were up 64%. 
 Throughout 1972 the price of domestically produced Prime Western zinc was
controlled by the Price Commission. It a!lowed increases of 1 cent and 1/2
cen:t per pound in April—May and December respec 
-tively, raising the ceiling price to 18.5 cents per pound. Foreign zinc
sold in the United States commanded at least a 1 cent premium as Australian,
Canadian, Mexican, and Peruvian producers increased the price of their zinc
in the United States some time prior to the raises allowed U.S. producers
by the Price Commission. 
 Legislation and Government Programs.— The GSA sold 20,580 -tons of
zinc during the first quarter of 1972. This zinc was all that remained under
the authorization of Public Law 89—322 enacted November 4, 1965, for
disposal of 200,000 tons of zinc from the national stockpile. On April 26,
1972, the President signed Public Law 
92—283 authorizing release of approximately 515,000 short tons of zinc
over a period of years of which 440,000 tons was to be released through primary
domestic producers and 75,000 tons was for sale by 
 1 Physical scientist, Division of Nonferrous Metals. 
 2 Mining engineer, Division of Nonferrous Metals. 

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