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plans are now being made to interconnect the projects and carry out the directive of the act.
COORDINATED OPERATION Coordination of operations between the three projects has been impossible during the war because the Government does not own the necessary interconnecting transmission lines, and some of the private companies, whose lines do not interconnect the projects, have been unwilling to make agreements for the interchange of power and mutual use of facilities. The Flood Control Act of 1944 enables the Secretary to accomplish the desired coordination by interconnecting the projects. Engineering studies show that by coordinated operation of the eight presently constructed or authorized projects in this area, the combined dependable output can be increased by 10 percent both in power and energy over the sum of their individual capabilities.
The Flood Control Act of 1944 has made it necessary for the Southwestern Power Administration to plan an extensive program of transmission line construction for interconnecting hydroelectric projects in the Southwest and marketing their output. The conclusions and recommendations are included in a report to the Secretary entitled “Report on Comprehensive Plan of Power Distribution and Sales from Hydroelectric Projects as Authorized by the Flood Control Act, December 1944 (H. R. 4485) in the Southwestern Region-Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, southeastern Kansas, southern Missouri.” It will be necessary to secure an average revenue of approximately 5 mills per kilowatt-hour for the wholesale power and energy delivered to consumers from the integrated system. The conclusions of the report are as follows:
1. The hydroelectric developments at the reservoir projects, under control of the War Department, must be fully integrated with each other, with existing utility system, and sufficient fuel burning generation to firm up their entire capacity to realize the full benefits of the power installations.
2. Adequate transmission and distribution facilities must be made available either by utilizing existing facilities or the construction of new facilities to bring the power from the interconnected hydroelectric developments to the load centers of the area, and to prospective users of the electric service if the most widespread use of the electric power and energy at the lowest possible rates to consumers is to be secured.
R. R. SAYERS, Director
THE prodigious effort of the mineral industries of the Nation to
provide the raw materials for the weapons and munitions of war was supported throughout the fiscal year by the manifold activities of the Bureau of Mines. As the demand for mineral commodities of all kinds increased, the Bureau intensified its work of exploring mineral deposits and developing methods of treating ores, its investigations of fuel resources, its production of helium, its research on explosives, and its many other varied technologic and economic services to the extractive industries.
To help meet the needs for minerals from domestic sources, the Bureau conducted 150 exploratory projects and examined 850 additional ore deposits in 36 States and Alaska. The critical and essential minerals, such as tungsten, vanadium, chromium, zircon, coking coal, fluorspar, mica, asbestos, optical calcite, and crystalline quartz, received special attention. Lead and zinc deposits were explored in a dozen States. Copper deposits were likewise extensively explored, and two major low-grade deposits were confirmed by Bureau engineers in Arizona. A low-grade mercury deposit in California, estimated to contain 10,000 flasks, was disclosed by diamond drilling. Exploratory projects on pegmatites in 6 States stimulated production of strategic mica. Through continuation of the large-scale exploration of bauxite deposits in Arkansas and Alabama, approximately 90,000,000 tons of bauxite of all grades were added to the known reserves. The search for needed nonmetallic minerals was conducted in 12 widely scattered States. In the course of hundreds of such projects, new useful techniques were developed for diamond drilling, bulldozer trenching, and geophysical exploration.
In connection with the Bureau's investigations of mining methods, a method of tamping blast holes was devised which has lowered dynamite consumption 25 percent at mines adopting it, and a new microseismic method of determining rock pressure was further developed.
At its metallurgical experiment stations, demonstration plants, and
pilot plants, the Bureau of Mines developed and improved methods and processes for using mineral resources unsuited to ordinary treatments. Substantial progress toward this end was made with manganese from extensive low-grade reserves, and full-scale tests at steel plants assured an adequate market for an electrolytic manganese plant large enough to produce low-cost metal. Advances were made in processes for treating Montana chromite, Idaho cobalt, Alabama iron, South Carolina sillimanite, North Carolina feldspar, and the domestic and foreign fluorspar stock-piled by Metals Reserve Company. Numerous iron, copper, lead, and zinc ores were tested by ore-dressing methods, and experimental studies were continued on smelting ironchromium-nickel ores of Oregon and Washington, leaching Wyoming vanadiferous phosphate shales, producing titanium and zirconium metals, reducing magnesium, and extracting alumina from low-grade bauxites, clays, and alunite.
Three ferro-alloy pilot plants, an electrolytic chromium pilot plant, and a bauxite mill were completed, and “breaking-in” operations progressed at a methane-reduction zinc pilot plant.
With fuel shortages still prevalent, the Bureau of Mines acted as consultant to industry, Government, and home owners on problems of efficient storage, selection, and utilization of coal and coal products. Fuel-efficiency and equipment-acceptance tests, together with a national fuel-conservation program, saved thousands of tons of coal. Anticorrosion studies and a feed-water-conditioning service helped protect 300 million dollars worth of boilers and lines at Federal and other plants. New sources of coal were explored in critical-shortage areas, and thousands of samples of coal, coke, peat, briquets, pitch, tar, coal dust, and organic compounds were analyzed. To aid anthracite producers, the Bureau studied mine-flood prevention, suggested methods for more efficient mining, and developed new uses for surplus anthracite•fines. Completion and successful testing of a large gasification retort brought cheap, abundant lignite nearer integrated industrial usage.
Wartime demands having cut sharply into known petroleum reserves, the Bureau stressed research on methods of recovering more oil from old fields and increasing the use of crudes held undesirable by refiners because of their sulfur content. With the major effort centered on condensate fields which produce petroleum suitable for blending or "building" special aviation fuels, seven reports were published on stimulative production methods. The results of these and other studies were submitted to operating companies and Government agencies concerned with meeting the war needs for special lubricants, fuels, and chemicals.
Looking still farther ahead to the day when auxiliary sources of oil and gasoline may be needed to fuel the motorized economy, the Bureau was well on its way toward the development of synthetic liquid fuels. With Congressional authorization, construction started on a laboratory at Bruceton, Pa., for research on the hydrogenation and gas synthesis processes of producing oil from coal, on a laboratory at Laramie, Wyo., to develop oil-shale distillation processes, and on a demonstration plant at Rifle, Colo., to provide for private industry a technical and economic prospectus on the possibilities of exploiting the country's rich and immense oil-shale reserves. The Bureau engineers went abroad to obtain first-hand information on synthetic fuel operations at plants captured from the Germans. An oil-shale mine was opened in Colorado.
Production at the Bureau's five helium plants, which extract the world's supply of this useful lightweight, nonflammable gas from natural gas, continued at approximately the same rate, for commercial demand increased sharply as direct war uses declined. Helium in Federal gas fields was conserved by increasing the proportion obtained from privately produced natural gas that is being piped to commercial markets, and reserves were augmented by injecting the surplus from this source into the subterranean vaults of the Government-owned Cliffside field for storage until needed. Bureau engineers developed another new use for helium, employing it to trace the underground movements of oil and gas.
To aid industry in conserving irreplaceable equipment and experienced manpower, the Bureau intensified its safety and security programs. Accidents declined and output mounted as the coal-mining industry, demonstrating an increasing acceptance of the recommendations of the Federal inspectors, made innumerable safety improvements in the 3,400 coal mines visited during the year. Bureau engineers and safety instructors trained thousands of additional workers and officials in first-aid, mine rescue, and accident-prevention procedures. They assisted at major mine disasters and investigated mine accidents, explosions, and fires. Mine equipment and materials were tested for safety in the Bureau's laboratories, where special investigations on safe equipment design also were continued for the Navy.
Attesting to the whole-hearted cooperation of the mineral industries in the Bureau's wartime plant-security assignments, the record still was free of a single known case of sabotage when the mineralproduction security program was terminated and the explosives control program was curtailed at the close of the fiscal year.
Thousands of chemical analyses and control tests were made on explosives and flammable gases, many for other Government agencies, and cooperative inspections were conducted with the Army, Navy, and State agencies on the storage of explosives. New explosives for mining and military use, and explosive devices captured from the enemy were examined; and research was continued on the ignition of gases and dusts by explosives. New schedules were prepared governing the use of higher charges of unsheathed explosives and the testing of Diesel mine locomotives for use in the gas- and dust-laden atmospheres of coal mines. A method for determining detonator efficiency was developed, and an electronic chronoscope which measures time intervals of a millionth of a second was invented and used in Bureau and military tests on explosives.
To guide Bureau engineers and mine inspectors in preparing gasand dust-control recommendations, some 19,000 mine-air and coaldust samples were analyzed for explosion hazards. Advances were made in methods for determining atmospheric contaminants, and many respirators were tested for efficiency.
As the chief source of economic and statistical information on minerals, the Bureau provided the basic facts on domestic and foreign production, stocks, distribution, and consumption required by war agencies and industries to guide their programs. Toward the end of the year, these fact-finding and economic services were being revised to enable industry to meet many reconversion problems and to permit Government to determine policies in regard to potential utilization of surplus war plants, appraisal of postwar employment prospects in the mineral industries, and the use of mineral resources in proposed river-valley development projects. Facts on the causes and frequency of accidents in the mineral industries, also collected and analyzed by the Bureau, proved their worth in helping to keep accident rates within bounds under difficult war conditions.
Demands from industry, war agencies, and the public for published information continued to increase, and the Bureau prepared and issued many bulletins, technical papers, handbooks, and other reports, A large number of other reports necessarily had to be issued on a confidential basis. However, under a rigid policy of economy, the number of copies printed and distributed was held to a minimum, The shortage of paper and difficulties of printing made it necessary to delay the publication for general use of other reports. It is hoped that the accumulation of all the valuable wartime information can be published and made available during the forthcoming year to service the minerals industries and the general public in the reconversion period.
War experience has indicated that the Nation's known reserves of many minerals are inadequate to meet peak emergency demands. This fact emphasizes the need for advance preparation to strengthen the country's domestic mineral position for any future crises. There is wide agreement that such preparation should include some provision