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for national stock piles of strategic and critical materials, together with an exhaustive mineral exploration and metallurgical research program. Surplus war materials would provide the nucleus for a stock-piling program, and their storage would prevent a deflation of mineral prices that would be inevitable if they were dumped on the market.
A comprehensive inventory of the Nation's mineral resources is needed urgently. No accurate, or even reasonably correct, estimate of the location, extent, quality, and minability of the various ores in the United States and Alaska now exists. Neither are the ways and means of utilizing them fully known. Had this knowledge been available when the war began, it would have saved time, money, and possibly lives. With the passage of the Strategic Minerals Act in 1939, the Bureau of Mines was permitted to make a modest start on a mineral inventory but only a start. When the “day of infamy" occurred at Pearl Harbor, the objective necessarily was shifted to that of finding deposits that could be brought into production immediately. Time was of the essence and there was none to spare for the usual decided lag between exploration and production. Exasperating delays occurred, nevertheless, particularly where methods of mining and treating marginal deposits had not been tried out in advance, for production does not follow in all cases merely because high prices are offered for the contained metal in such deposits.
A continuing program is proposed, therefore, which will include both exploration of reserves and investigation of mining and treating methods so that marginal deposits of strategic minerals can be an effective bulwark against any future emergency. Changing projected needs for a national emergency and continually advancing technical knowledge require a long-term program subject to constant revision so that plans for the development and treatment of large strategic reserves will be the best available and ready for use at once should the need arise. The Bureau is capable and willing to undertake such an assignment.
If the mining and metallurgical processes for low-grade and complex ores were developed and made available, some marginal deposits would come into economic production before another national emergency would be likely to occur, thus contributing to the well-being of industry and the national defense. Small operators interested in such deposits require help, particularly because they are unable to retain research staffs and operate laboratories and pilot plants as large corporations do. Not only technical assistance is required, but economic advice as well, encompassing marketing studies and analyses. The Bureau will continue to render such services to the best of its ability.
The mineral industry has acquired many other problems as a result of the war. In the race against time to provide minerals for war,
much of the usual long-range development work has been deferred in existing mines. Some aid may also be required on such problems as acquiring new machinery or replacing old machinery, improving roads, and obtaining financial backing and skilled manpower. The Bureau will continue to assist as much as possible in accordance with the functions that have been delegated to it.
The national security and the national economy are closely linked in all fields, but particularly so in the mineral industry. If the Nation is to be in any sense secure, it must have a healthy, thriving mineral industry.
To insure the survival and maintenance of such a going industry, consideration must be given to its problems. Victory will abruptly wipe out the Government's war procurement programs for minerals and metals and reduce the premium prices that had been paid for some of these products. Reconversion of war plants, modernizations and repairs for railroads and other heavy industries, and long-deferred demands for consumer goods undoubtedly will take up part of the slack for several years, but domestic producers will require a permanent market and a stable price structure. Lest these be imperiled, careful consideration of the problems of international trade and the disposal of war stocks of metals and scrap will be necessary. The extractive industries must be assured of a helpful and stable national mineral policy if they are to prosper.
SUMMARY OF ACTIVITIES EXPLORATION AND METALLURGICAL RESEARCH As the decisive campaigns of the war opened and the demand for raw materials necessary to the manufacture of arms and munitions increased, engineers of the Bureau of Mines intensified their quest for adequate sources of metals, and metallurgists redoubled their research on methods for utilizing the vast reserves of low-grade mineral deposits. Substantial progress was made in each field.
During the fiscal year 1945, the engineers examined 850 mineral deposits and conducted exploratory projects on 150 deposits in 36 States and Alaska. Meanwhile, the metallurgists solved problems of immediate importance in supplying critically needed materials for war together with some of longer-range significance.
To the engineer in the field and the metallurgist in the laboratory, the approach differed but the objective was the same--more effective utilization of the mineral resources to the end that they might make the greatest possible contribution to the Nation's economy and security.
Criteria for Projects In selecting deposits for exploration, restrictions upon the Bureau required that one of the following criteria apply in each case:
1. Geologic, geophysical, or engineering evidence must indicate, in the judgment of the Bureau's engineers, that the project has a possibility of making a substantial contribution to the national economy; or
2. The project must show promise of making a direct contribution to the national security, such as the possibility of producing material for a Government stock pile; or
3. The project must have been specifically authorized and directed by the Congress. .
Following exploration, samples from the mineral deposit were submitted to the Bureau's laboratories and pilot plants to determine whether the material could be treated commercially by known methods. If not—and this frequently is true now that the “cream-skimming" period of mineral exploitation has reached its denouement in the United States-new processes of treatment were sought. In this manner some low-grade mineral deposits become actual ore reserves.
In the course of conducting hundreds of exploratory projects, the Bureau of Mines developed several useful new exploratory techniques. In a northern iron district, glacial drift as much as 90 feet in thickness overlies important deposits of magnetite iron ore. Because of numerous boulders in this unconsolidated material, it was difficult to drill through to solid rock. A new technique was developed on the spot by the engineers. The method was to freeze the moisture in the gravel, in order to hold the boulders firm so that they could be drilled and even permit the unconsolidated material to be cored. In one case, the penetration of 90 feet of such material-formerly requiring 2 weekswas accomplished by this method in 9 hours..
From the beginning of the exploratory program, extensive use was made of the bulldozer for trenching through overburden to expose ore bodies at considerably less cost than the older hand methods. Trenches that would have taken half a dozen men several weeks to dig with pick and shovel were excavated in a few hours by a single bulldozer operator.
By placing pressure and speed gages on hydraulic-feed diamond drills and correlating the results with the type of rock and percentage of core recovery, the Bureau hopes to improve and perfect control of drilling operations.
Geophysical exploration methods are being more widely used and useful new instruments are being perfected. For example, a sturdy, self-leveling magnotometer has been developed which is sensitive enough for most purposes and which permits set-ups to be made and readings to be taken in about half the time needed with other instruments.
As mining problems also must be solved to obtain maximum production of domestic mineral resources, the Bureau, at its Mount Weather Testing Adit, developed a method of tamping blast holes which has saved 25 percent in dynamite consumption at several operating mines where the procedure was adopted. The Bureau continued its work in developing new uses for the microseismic method of determining rock pressure. Two investigations in progress may ultimately lead to the recovery of several million tons of high-grade ores from mine pillars. .
In the field of metallurgical research, the Bureau's Pacific Experiment Station at Berkeley, Calif., during the war developed fundamental data for compounds involved in processes under study at other experiment stations and pilot plants, while the Rare and Precious Metals Experiment Station at Reno, Nev., functioned primarily as an analytical laboratory serving exploration projects for war minerals.
Iron, Steel, and Ferro-alloys Continuing its search for additional reserves of iron ore and ancillary materials required for a record steel production, the Bureau of Mines explored by drilling, trenching, or tunneling 76 deposits in 27 States and Alaska. These included 32 iron, 16 fluorspar, 10 coal, 6 manganese, 5 tungsten, 5 nickel, and 2 chromium deposits. In addition, some 450 deposits were examined by Bureau engineers.
Important reserves of iron ore aggregating many millions of tons were indicated in Arizona, Utah, Alaska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Virginia. Studies made in Alabama offer promise that significant tonnages of usable ore may be recovered from the tailings of former operations.
Results of pilot-plant and cooperative investigations on manganese during the year justify the prediction that the United States may be considerably less dependent in the future upon foreign sources of this strategic metal. Tests conducted largely in cooperation with the steel industry disclosed that the electrolytic manganese produced in the Bureau's pilot plant at Boulder City, Nev., has enough applications in industry to assure an adequate market for a plant of sufficient size to attain low production costs.
The Bureau completed tests on Three Kids manganese ore from southern Nevada and made detailed estimates of capital and operating costs for a commercial plant capable of producing 40 tons of metal a day. Electrowinning campaigns also were carried out on samples of Ladd mine ore from California, carbonate nodule concentrates from Chamberlain, S. Dak., and oxide ore from the Metals Reserve Company stock pile at Deming, N. Mex. Development of Carryall mining and conical rolls separation for the Pierre manganiferous shale near Chamberlain, S. Dak., on which considerable work was done during the year, promises a substantial reduction in production costs. This development, together with the successful electrowinning campaign on nodules at Boulder City, may eventually lead to the peacetime exploitation of the South Dakota deposit, the Nation's largest manganese reserve, containing some 50 million tons of manganese in nodular form. Research continued on the production and study of alloys made with electrolytic manganese. At Salt Lake City, Utah, campaigns were carried out in the small dithionate leaching plant on manganese ores from Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.
Construction and equipment installations progressed at the new ferro-alloys pilot plants at Rolla, Mo., and Redding, Calif., while plans were completed for a similar pilot plant at Raleigh, N. C. Investigations to be made at each pilot plant will seek methods for utilizing steel and ferro-alloy raw materials occurring in the vicinity.
An electrolytic chromium pilot plant with a daily capacity of 100 pounds of metal was brought into operation at Boulder City, Nev., treating Montana chromites. At Minneapolis, Minn., agglomeration tests on mixtures of off-grade Montana chromite concentrates and Russian chromite fines yielded a satisfactory feed material for ferrochromium furnaces. Cobalt concentrates produced at Salt Lake City from low-grade, complex, cobalt-copper-silver-gold ore of Idaho's Blackbird district were treated successfully in a 5-pound-a-day electrolytic cobalt pilot plant installed during the year at Boulder City, Nev. Small-scale smelting tests on the production of nickel-iron from iron-chromium-nickel ores of Oregon and Washington were continued at Salt Lake City, and larger-scale tests are planned at the Northwest Electrodevelopment Laboratory at Albany, Oreg. Late in the year, laboratory tests on the extraction of vanadium and phosphate from extensive deposits of Wyoming shale culminated with the installation and operation of a small pilot plant at Salt Lake City.
Beneficiation tests were made on iron ores and sponge iron products in laboratories at Salt Lake City, Utah; Rolla, Mo.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Tuscaloosa, Ala.; and College Park, Md. At Tuscaloosa, significant developments were made in the hydraulic classification and flotation of Alabama iron ores. Sponge iron produced in saggers at the Canton, Ohio, and Salisbury, N. C., pilot plants and in rotary kilns at the Laramie, Wyo., and Johnstown, Pa., pilot plants of the Bureau of Mines was used successfully in melting tests at several commercial steel and wrought-iron plants. Following laboratory tests at Salt Lake City, tonnage samples of Shasta, Calif., magnetite were magnetically separated and the high-grade concentrates were reduced at the Laramie pilot plant. It was planned to use this sponge iron in steel-making investigations at Redding, Calif. After magnetic separation tests at College Park disclosed that extremely high-grade concentrate could be made from magnetite ore occurring at Cran