Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals and minerals 1977
Year 1977, Volume 1 (1977)
Sibley, Scott F.
Cobalt, pp. 303-315 ff. PDF (1.6 MB)
303Cobalt By Scott F. Sibley1 There was a moderate increase in demand for cobalt in 1977 compared with that of 1976. Total reported consumption of cebait in the United States was 16,577,000 pounds, a small increase over that of 1976. An increase in commercial aircraft engine production accounted for the significant recovery in consumption of superalloys from the relatively low levels of 1976. Consumer stocks reached a record monthly high of 3.1 million pounds in August but declined in the last quarter. Zaire reportedly made increased use of the Tazara rail line linking Zambia, Zaire's southern neighbor, with the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to the east. However, the principal shipment route for Zairian copper, of which cobalt is a byproduct, was southerly, via Zambia, Southern Rhodesia, and Botswana to the Republic of South Africa's port of East London. Much of Zaire's cobalt production was also shipped to Zaire's own port of Matadi on the Atlantic, a route that is much less vulnerable to disruption than the southern route. The cobalt stockpile goal of 85.4 million pounds announced by the General Services Administration (GSA) in October 1976 was reaffirmed in October 1977, subject to annual review. The actual stockpile inventory at yearend totaled 40.9 million pounds. Legislation regarding purchases or sales of critical commodities for the stockpile was pending in Congress at yearend. Table 1.—Salient cobalt statistics (Thousand pounds of contained cobalt) 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 United States: Consumption Imports for consumption Stocks, Dec. 31: Consumer Price: Metal, per pound worldpmduction,mine 18,741 19,238 2,451 $24543.10 64,856 18,861 16,122 2,047 $31043.75 68,090 12,787 6,608 1,801 $3.75-$4.00 r68()()() 16,482 16,487 3,180 $4.00-$5.40 r62,394 16,577 17,548 3,738 $52046.40 65,222 ~Revbad. S DOMESTIC PRODUCTION Although no cobalt was produced from domestic mining operations in 1977, AMAX Inc., recovered significant quantities from imported matte at its Port Nickel refmery in Braithwaite, La. AMAX announced in October that production at the refinery would be held to 75% of capacity. Nickel and cobalt production were expected to be maintained at the reduced rate until mid1978, at which time a review of the market situation was to be made to set production levels for the rest of 1978. The move reportedly was made to avoid excessive inventories. Consequently, shipment levels were expected to match production levels closely in 1977 and 1978. According to AMAX's annual report, 487,000 pounds of cobalt were produced at the facility in 1977. AMAX Exploration, Inc., conducted the preliminary development phase of its Min
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