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

Morning, John L.
Technologic trends in the mineral industries (metals and nonmetals except fuels),   pp. 61-82 PDF (1.8 MB)

Page 61

  61Technologic Trends in the Mineral Industries 
(Metals and Nonmetals Except Fuels) 
By John L Morning1 
 Environmental considerations, reduced ore grades, and the related increased
quantities of material handled were the dominant concerns of the minerals
industry in 1972.2 As in recent years, *the basic problem facing the domestic
mineral industries was the widening gap between domestic demand and domestic
production, a gap which has gradually developed since 1950.3 Development
of indigenous mineral resources faced the problem of increased costs to meet
environmental regulations and health and safety standards. Environment factors
continued to draw priorities as they became an integral part of mine and
plant design. As of July 1972, 29 States had enacted surface mined area,
environmental protection legislation. Generally, these laws required operators
to prepare reclamation plans, obtain permits, antI post performance bonds.
 Despite these problems, the growth of the minerals industry (metals and
nonmetals except fuels) *in 1972 recovered from the downturn in 1971. Crude
ore production rose 60 million tons, a 2% increase compared with that of
1971, to nearly 2.7 billion tons. Total value of metals and nonmetals output
rose to ~10.l33 billion from $9.461 billion in 1971. In terms of 1972 constant
dollars, value of mineral products has grown at an annual growth rate of
1.8% annually since 1963. 
 Nearly 4.2 billion tons of material was handled in 1972 compared with 2.9
billion tons in 1963 and 3.6 billion tons in 1968. 
 The downward trend in exploration and development activity continued for
the third straight year primarily because of reduced activity at uranium
operations. However, copper, gold, asbestos, and fluorspar operations reported
significantly increased activity. 
 Materials Handled.—Total material han- 
dled at metal and nonmetal mines and quarries in the United States rose to
nearly 4.2 billion tons in 1972, an increase of 2% compared with that of
1971. Table 1 shows data for the 13-year period of 1960 to 1972, which indicates
that total material handled has grown at an annual rate of 3.2%. Most of
the growth has occurred in the quantity of crude nonmetal ores pro—
duced and in the waste material handled at surface metal mines. Underground
mining has ' been relatively stable, particularly for metal mines. 
 Crude ore output in 1972 totaled nearly 2.7 billion tons, 60 million tons
higher than in 1971, but 10 million tons lower than in 1970 the record year.
Although metal mines accounted for the minor portion of the total, the trend
in the past 10 years has been to an increased share of the total crude ore
output, which rose from 20% in 1963 to 22% in 1972. Copper and iron ore accounted
for 83% of metal mine crude ore output, whereas phosphate rock, sand and
gravel, and stone accounted for 93% of the nonmetal crude ore production.
For comparison, the percentages for the same commodities in 1963 were 74%
and 93%, respectively, and in 1968, 81% and 91%, respectively. 
 Waste material accounted for over onethird of total material handled in
the minerals industry, rising to over 1.5 billion tons during the year. A
large portion of the total came from stripping activities in copper, iron
ore, uranium, and phosphate rock. For metal mines, copper led in both 
 1Supervisory physical sdentist, Division of Ferrous Metals—Mineral
 2Staff, Bureau of Mines. Technologic and Related Trends In the Mineral Industries,
BuMines I.C. 8608, 1972, 44 pp. 
 3Secretary of the Interior. First Annual Report of the Secretary of the
Interior Under the Mining and Minerals Policy Act of 1970 (P.L. 91-631).
March 1972, 142 pp. 

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