Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals and minerals 1978-79
Year 1978-79, Volume 1 (1978-1979)
Cooper, Franklin D.
Mining and quarrying trends in the metal and nonmetal industries, pp. 1-26 PDF (1.9 MB)
1Mining and Quarrying Trends in the Metal and Nonmetal Industries By Franklin D. CoOper1 The value of nonfuel mineral raw materials produced in the United States in 1978 was $20 billion. In 1979, total value increased to an estimated $24 billion, up 20% from 1978. Of the principal metallic ores produced in 1979, about half showed increased quantitative output and all showed increased value per ton compared with that of 1978. Most nonmetallic commodities showed increases in quantitative output and in average value per ton. Because of its decreasing share of the world market, the domestic mineral industry's concerns were the increasing costs of capital, labor, and energy; withdrawals of public lands from mining; and the increasing cost of environmental regulations that tended to deter or delay investment in the Nation's capacity for producing essential minerals. In 1978, based on a survey of 64 mining and metals industries by Citibank, the rate of return on net worth in nonferrous metal manufacturing ranked 55th, nonmetal mining ranked 61st, and metal mining, 64th. The combined mining sector returned 3% of equity. Low profitability of some mining firms increased the cost of their borrowing and reduced the availability of funds except from banks at very high rates. Pollution control expenditures in 1978 by the nonferrous metal industry equaled 12% of its total capital spending. Legislation and Government Programs.—A 1979 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) inventory of 7,811 separate land withdrawals in the United States indicated that of the 67.9 million acres with- drawn, as required by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, about 54.2 million acres were closed to mining under the general laws and 18.9 million acres were closed to leasing. Some withdrawals covered both locatable and leasable minerals. The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOl) announced final approval of agreements with Montana, Utah, and Wyoming, permitting these States to supervise surface mining and reclamation on Federal lands within their borders. DOI relaxed proposed restrictions for mineral development on 56.6 million acres of public land in Western States that could be turned into wilderness areas. The primary conclusion of an 87-page report to Congress by the General Accounting Office (GAO) issued in late 1979 states that the cumulative effects of restrictive and contradictory Government policies and regulations are discouraging investment in U.S. mining and mineral processing and are forcing an increasing reliance on imported minerals. Exploration and Development.—A University of Alaska report, issued in 1978, showed that 26% of the State's land area was open to mineral entry under Federal and State laws. Prospecting was permitted on 64 million acres of Federal lands and 36 million acres of State lands. New mining claims filed in 1978 totaled 18,500. Exploration in 1979 employed 1,700 persons and cost an estimated $75 million. The uranium industry in 1978 spent $290 million for 52.5 million feet of exploration drilling in the United States. The number of major companies report-
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