« PreviousContinue »
The following review of Bureau of Mines activities in the fiscal year 1935 discloses a creditable return on an investment of $1,511,047.76. New processes have been devised and turned over to the mineral industries, information on the production and distribution of the major minerals has been supplied promptly, and the number of persons who completed safety-training courses increased nearly 40 percent.
Technologic Branch.—Twenty-five electric devices for use in mines passed permissibility tests conducted under supervision of the Mechanical Division. The division continued to aid Federal agencies in suggesting ways for efficient utilization of fuel. Nearly 9,600 samples of coal and coke were analyzed, and the Bureau's coalsampling truck collected samples at 41 hard-coal breakers in Pennsylvania in cooperation with the Anthracite Institute. The petrographic study of American coals was continued, and data on carbonization products from 30 such coals were published.
The Mining Division assisted operators of small gold and silver mines in solving operating problems. Subterranean water supplies were located in Nevada drought areas by geophysical prospecting methods. Three papers on sand and gravel excavation were prepared. An index of the division's 258 information circulars on mining and milling methods was compiled, an important bulletin on lead was issued, and 14 information circulars were published, as well as the monthly Geophysical Abstracts.
The Metallurgical Division succeeded in developing new methods for agglomeration and flotation of ores, made advances in magnetic separation of minerals, and was able to demonstrate on a pilot-plant scale the reduction of iron ore by natural gas and conversion of this iron into steel by direct melting. The mineral forms of the phosphorus occurring in Alabama red iron ores have been studied. Progress has been made in the explosion shattering of minerals.
The Petroleum and Natural-Gas Division prepared special reports for the Subcommittee on Petroleum Investigation of the House. A gas-saturated oil from Crescent pool, Oklahoma, two commercial repressuring projects (1 in Kentucky and 1 in Oklahoma), and output and input characteristics of Texas Panhandle natural-gas wells were investigated. Special problems were handled for the States of Kansas and Michigan. A bulletin describing manufacture of paraffin wax was completed. Tabulated analyses of Texas and Louisiana crudes were issued. The Amarillo Helium Plant produced over 10,000,000 cubic feet of helium, including 320,000 for the United States Army-National Geographic Society stratosphere flight.
During the year the Experiment Stations Division supervised the work of the Bureau's 11 experiment stations in American mining centers. The Mississippi Valley Station devised a method of separating sylvite from halite, thus producing fertilizer at lower cost than by the present process. The Nonmetallic Minerals Station developed a scheme for retarding the setting of cement, and the Southern Experiment Station showed how high-grade barite concentrates could be produced from various ores. The Northwest Station has been finding new uses for Washington talcs and soapstones, and has made washing studies of Pacific Northwest coals. A hydrogen sulphide detector was developed, principally for use in the petroleum industry. Eighteen values for limits of inflammability of gases or vapors were determined. Thermodynamic functions were calculated for a number of hydrocarbons and for several other substances. Three hose masks and seven respirators were approved, and numerous extensions of approval were granted.
The Explosives Division added 35 explosives to the active permissible list and transferred 17 to the inactive list. It cooperated with the United States Forest Service in devising specifications for explosives to be used in forestry and road building.
Office of chief mining engineer.—The cause of a series of " bumps" in the Cumberland Mountain coal field (Kentucky and Virginia) was investigated and changes in mining methods proposed to avoid recurrence. A survey of potash-mining methods on Government leases in New Mexico was conducted. A few coal-dust explosion demonstrations were held at the experimental mine.
Economics Branch.—In the Economics Branch of the Coal Division continued to speed up the work of reporting promptly to producers, distributors, and consumers data concerning the supply of and demand for coal and coke. The division supplied much information to the Bituminous Coal Code Authority. The annual peat convass (recessed since 1926) was resumed. During the year 43,400 requests for service were handled.
The Mineral Statistics Division was responsible for compilation of the Minerals Yearbook, an annual volume of data on production, consumption, and distribution of mineral commodities. Work was done to correlate data on man-hours worked and production for 22 minerals. The division made more than 100 annual statistical surveys of important minerals.
The Petroleum Economics Division resumed the national survey of fuel-oil distribution, discontinued in 1931. It made monthly forecasts of the demand for gasoline and crude oil, in addition to its usual fact-finding work on the production and distribution of petroleum products.
The Rare Metals and Nonmetals Division published a number of reports on various mineral commodities and made horizontal studies of minerals by consuming industries. The division maintained lists
of buyers and sellers of rare metals and nonmetals and distributed them on request. Progress was registered in forecasting the demand for minerals.
The Common Metals Division assisted the Tin Investigating Committee of the House and prepared world charts on 15 strategic minerals for the War and Navy Departments. Eleven chapters were written for the Minerals Yearbook. Data were assembled on prices of gold and silver.
The office of the principal mineralogist prepared four chapters for the Minerals Yearbook and answered nearly 1,500 letters on mineral subjects.
Health and Safety Branch.—The Safety Division, Health and Safety Branch, trained over 77,000 persons in first-aid methods during the fiscal year. In addition, 1,132 temporary first-aid instructors' certificates were issued to men who had trained groups under Bureau supervision. Members of the Division personnel attended 448 meetings of Holmes safety chapters and 962 other safety meetings. Seventy manuscripts on topics in the division's field were prepared during the year.
Koutine questions on health were handled within the branch, although the Health Division has been recessed for 2 years.
The Demographical Division assembled data on accidents in the mineral industries and noted a general reduction in accident rates. It conducted the annual safety contest, participated in by 334 mines and quarries. Statistics were compiled on the production and consumption of explosives.
Administrative Branch.—The Office Administration Division handled matters of administrative routine during the year. The Bureau personnel numbered 523 permanent and 89 part-time employees. The property of the Bureau, with acquisitions during the year, was valued at nearly 4 million dollars.
The Information Division distributed over 430,000 free publications of the Bureau during the year, answered 61,000 letters of inquiry on general subjects, edited 410 manuscripts, and prepared several hundred illustrations for Bureau publications. Motion-picture films produced under supervision of the division were shown to a total audience of nearly 5 million persons.
Bureau of Mines Advisory Board.—-During the year an Advisory Board to confer with the Director on matters of Bureau policy was appointed by the Secretary of the Interior. Its 30 members represent the main mineral industries and the principal mining and labor organizations. The purpose of the Board is to place the Bureau into direct contact with industry, to impart a better understanding of the Bureau's functions, and to give it the benefit of