Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook metals, minerals, and fuels 1972
Year 1972, Volume 1 (1972)
Cammarota, V. Anthony, Jr.
Mercury, pp. 771-781 ff. PDF (1.1 MB)
Mercury By V. Anthony Cammarota, Jr.L Primary mercury production of 7,286 flasks 2 in 1972, valued at $1.6 million, was the lowest since 1951. Only 21 mines were active during the year, compared with 56 mines in 1971, when 17,883 flasks were produced. By yearend a few mines remained, most of which were intermittent producers. Secondary production of 12,651 flasks was down from the 1971 level. Some of the mercury came from a closed mercury-cell chlor-alkali plant and releases by the General Services Administration (GSA). The consumption of 52,907 flasks in 1972 was slightly higher than in 1971. Increases were registered ' for agriculture, dental preparations, and industrial and control instruments, but the use in electrical apparatus declined. Consumers worked off inventory as prices continued their decline to a low of $145 per flask in April. At the same time producers stockpiled metal. As prices recovered in the second half to finish the year at $285 per flask, producers took advantage of the rally to sell metal and consumers increased stocks. Exports were down sharply. Imports were up slightly from 1971, with Algeria becoming a significant supplier. World production of mercury in 1972 decreased 6% from that of 1971. Spain increased production, whereas Canada, Italy, Mexico, and Yugoslavia showed declines. The West German Government and a team of British and Australian divers both claimed ownership of an undisclosed quantity of mercury recovered from a U-boat sunk off the Malaysian coast during World War II. German U-boats are believed to have used mercury as ballast. Legislation and Government Programs.— —Government financial assistance on a participatory basis was available for mercury exploration projects through the Office of Minerals Exploration, U.S. Geo logical Survey, to the extent of 75% of the acceptable costs. No contracts were execuXed during 1972. In July, GSA resumed its sale of surplus mercury on a sealed bid basis at the rate of 500 flasks per month. In August 450 flasks were sold at an average price of $225.77 per flask, but in September 49 flasks were sold for an average of $269.44 per flask. Total releases for the year of 512 flasks included 13 flasks transferred to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. As of December 31, 1972, total strategic stockpile accumulations from all programs stood at 200,105 flasks. In March, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under terms of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, canceled all biocidal uses of mercury, and in addition suspended the registrations for alkyl compounds and nonalkyl uses on rice seed, in laundry products, and in marine antifouling paint.3 The suspension order immediately halted all interstate shipment of the products. Under a cancellation order, sale and interstate commerce are permitted while an appeal is filed by manufacturers and a final decision is reached by a special scientific panel. Pursuant to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the Food and Drug Administration proposed removing mercury from cosmetics other than those used around the eye.4 The goal of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, as amended, is to i Physical scientist, Division of Nonferrous Metals. 2 Flask as used throughout this chapter refers to the 76-pound flask. Federal Register. Certain Products Containing Mercury, Cancellation of Registration. V. 37, No. 61, Mar. 29, 1972, pp. 6419—6420. ~ Federal Register. Use of Mercury in Cosmetics Including Use as Skin-Bleaching Agent in Cosmetic Preparations Also Regarded as Drugs. V. 37, No. 127, June 30, 1972, pp. 12967—12968. 771
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