Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals and minerals 1978-79
Year 1978-79, Volume 1 (1978-1979)
Sibley, Scott F.
Cobalt, pp. 249-258 PDF (1.2 MB)
249Cobalt By Scott F. Sibley1 Demand for cobalt in 1978 increased significantly compared with that of 1977. Total reported consumption of cobalt in the United States was the highest~ on record, at 19,994,000 pounds, and reflected a 21% increase over consumption reported for 1977. In 1979, reported consumption declined 13% compared with that of 1978. Considerable uncertainty developed in the cobalt market with regard to future supply and price in May 1978, when African Metals Corp., the major dealer for cobalt in the United States, announced that cobalt metal orders would be accepted only on an allocation basis, beginning May 1, 1978. The allocation, still in effect at yearend 1979, was based on 70% of consumers' average monthly purchases during calendar year 1977. The uncertainty was heightened in mid-May 1978 when insurgents disrupted mining activity in Shaba Province, Zaire, the major source of the U.S. supply of cobalt. Prices soared during the last half of 1978 and stabilized in 1979. Table 1.—Salient cobalt statistics (Thousand pounds of contained cobalt) 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 United States: Consumption Imports for consumption Stocks, Dec. 31: Consumer Price: Metal, per pound world production, mine' 12,787 6,608 1,801 $3.75-$4.00 T47,60() 16,482 16,487 3,180 $4.00-$5.40 r47218 16,577 17,548 3,738 $5.20-$6.40 r48,168 19,994 19,029 4,387 $640420.00 55,662 17,402 19,998 3,390 $20.00-$25.00 62,874 ' Based on estimated recovered cobalt. Legislation and Government Programs.—An export reporting system for cobalt-bearing materials was established by the U.S. Department of Commerce on January 10, 1979. The Department required that exporters send to the Office of Export Administration a copy of the export declaration covering a list of specified materials (both wrought and unwrought) containing 10% or more of cobalt. The national stockpile goal for cobalt remained at 85.4 million pounds, and the inventory in storage was 40.8 million pounds at yearend 1979. Congress passed legislation in mid-1979 regarding sales and purchases of critical commodities in the national stockpile. The new Strategic and Critical Materials Stockpiling Revision Act opened the way for further legislation providing for sales and purchases of specific commodities. The act requires that funds from sales of stockpiled commodities be used to purchase commodities for which there is a stockpile deficit. If such purchases are not made, the funds are to revert to the Treasury after 3 years. The act also specifies that the stockpile must serve the interest of national defense only. In November 1979, the Senate passed legislation that would restrict access to a region of cobalt mineralization northeast of the Blackbird district in Idaho. The legislation would create a "River-of-No-ReturnWilderness," a small part of which would
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