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COAL EXPORTS

The tonnage of British coal exported during each of the 12 months ended September, 1925, 1928, and 1929, was as follows:

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(Special circular No. 744, Minerals Division, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, Department of

Commerce, Washington) The operation of the British coal mines act of 1930 may be of great interest to the coal industry of the United States and serve to answer such questions as: To what extent are colliery amalgamations possible and beneficial? Is it advantageous to amalgamate collieries with other enterprises? and, What savings, if any, can be effected in distribution and administrative costs by cooperative marketing and selling schemes on extensive lines? Conditions analogous to those in the American industry--unbalanced production and sales, and keen interdistrict competition-prompt this short summary of the act and other recent British mining legislation.

THE MINES ACT OF 1930 The mines act of 1930 prescribes the further reorganization of the coal industry and settles the lines on which reorganization is to take place, a central scheme operative for the country, as a whole and district schemes respectively applicable to each mining district, for regulating and facilitating the production, supply, and sale of coal; a reorganization commission, with discretionary power as to the initiation and promotion of amalgamations of collieries, and a coal mines national industrial board to deal with labor. The industry remains in the control of the owners of the individual units, subject to the cooperative functions of the central council and district executive boards, respectively, to be constituted by the central scheme and district schemes.

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More specifically, part 1 of the bill provides for the establishment of marketing schemes in the individual districts, to be administered locally by an executive board, and a national scheme under the control of a central council. Schemes put forward voluntarily by the colliery owners must be approved by the board of trade, and in the absence of a scheme, six weeks after the passing of the act the board may themselves formulate a scheme and impose it upon the coal owners affected. Schemes may be amended, or others substituted for them, provided that the consent of the board of trade is obtained.

The central council administering the central marketing scheme will allocate to each district a maximum production figure which may be amended for any particular period as circumstances dictate. The expenses of the council will be met from levies imposed on the various districts, which may also be required to pay penalties for contraventions of the central scheme. There is provision for arbitration in the event of disagreement between the executive board for a district and the council, or between district and district.

In the districts the appropriate executive board will fix a standard tonnage for each mine, taking into consideration physical characteristics and other special circumstances and, periodically, the percentage (quota) of the tonnage it is permissible to produce in a given period. A standard tonnage may be fixed for any class of coal and a separate quota may be fixed for it, but the quota must be the same proportion of the standard tonnage of coal for all mines in the district. Quota may be transferred from one mine to another. Minimum selling prices will be fixed, and penalties for contravention of the scheme may be imposed. Grievances of individual owners may be referred to arbitration. There is no provision in the act for a district levy to assist the sale of export coal or of any class of coal, but such a provision may be included in a district scheme with the assent of the central council of the board of trade and of Parliament.

A committee of investigation is to be appointed in each district in addition to a national committee of investigation. The chairman and other members of these committees will be appointed by the board of trade. One half of the members, other than the chairman, will represent the interests of consumers of coal and the other half, in equal numbers, the owners of the mines and the mine workers. The primary object of these committees is the protection of the consumer.

Where it appears that an amalgamation would be expedient for the more economical and efficient working of the coal industry, part 11 of the bill empowers the board of trade to require the owners of the respective undertakings to submit a scheme to the board, failing which the board may itself prepare a scheme.

Part 111 reduces the permitted number of working hours for miners from 8 to 7%, measured from the descent of the last man in the shift to the ascent of the first. A "spread-over" clause gives power to the owners and miners in a district, with the consent of the miners federation and of the mining association to redistribute the hours if desired, but the working day must not be over 8 hours or the hours in a week more than 45.

The bill also empowers the board of trade to constitute a coal mines national industrial board, to which will be referred disputes as to wages or other conditions of labor in a district which can not be

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settled between the two parties. The board will inquire into the dispute and report to the owners and others concerned.

MARKETING SCHEME MAY HAVE INFLUENCED BILL The operation of the “five counties (marketing) scheme" may have influenced part 1 of the bill, for which reason the following data extracted from its second annual report (year ended March 31, 1930) are given: Production of members during the year was 92,122,424 long tons (about 36 per cent of national production) upon which a levy of $0.06 per ton of coal raised was made and this money, plus funds derived from penalties, supplied a fund from wbich the export coal trade was assisted up to $0.80 a ton, the total expenditures on this account amounting to $4,334,167. The development of the export trade from the Humber ports, through which member shipments moved, is interesting. During the year ended March 31, 1928, exports totaled 2,566,733 tons, during the year ended March 31, 1929, 4,728,534 and during the year ended March 31, 1930, the second year of the operation of the plan 7,018,712 long tons. Bunker coal is not included in these figures. The administration expenses of the organization were about one-fifth of a cent per ton of coal raised by the members during the year.

John R. BRADLEY,
Coal Section, Minerals Dirision.

REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION, NEW SOUTH WALES

RESUMED

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA The United States of America in recent years has produced a little less than one-half of the entire world production, which averages just under 1,200,000,000 tons.

In normal years the United States of America dispatches the great bulk of surplus coal across the northern frontier to Canada. Owing to the distance of the mines from the seacoast and to the cost of transport, there is as a rule no competition in European countries. Exports indeed are relatively small, amounting in normal years to about only 4 per cent of production and of these exports about four-fifths are consigned to Canada. The coal industry is thus largely self-contained, and only in exceptional years has it had any important direct contact with countries oversea.

But the ability of the industry to respond to any sudden demand is such that, whenever prices rise above a certain point, or whenever one of the great European producers is temporarily disabled, the United States can throw upon the markets all the coal required. The present capacity is thus extremely elastic.

PRODUCTION The production of coal in the United States since 1909-1913 has been as follows: Metric tons

Metric tons 1909–1913 (average) - 464, 587, 000 1924.

518, 556, 000 1913. 517, 057, 000 1925.

527, 662, 000 1920. 597, 165, 000 1926.

601, 214, 000 1921. 459, 352, 000 1927.

544, 725, 000 1922 432, 681, 000 1928.

516, 600, 000 1923.

596, 466, 000

PRICES

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The average value per ton of coal (bituminous) raised at the pit since 1909-1913 has been as follows: S. d.

S. d. 1909–1913 (average

5
372
1923.

13 1 1913. 5 6 1924.

11 1 1919. 12 7 1925.

9 6 1920. 22 11 1926.

9 6 1921.

16
1927.

9 1 1922. 15 374 1928.

8 742 A comparison with other countries is shown in Table A attached. (See page 43.)

ORGANIZATION The bulk of the anthracite production of the United States of America is concentrated in the hands of 8 companies out of a total of 174 in operation, which produced 70 per cent of the output in 1920. They are closely connected with one another and with the railroad interests. The United States Coal Commission published in 1925 its report on an inquiry into their activities and recommended greater publicity.

On the other hand, the 12,122 undertakings engaged in the bituminous coal industry are, generally speaking, competitive.

AMALGAMATIONS AND CLOSURE OF MINES

In bituminous mines, a number of small consolidations have taken place. Three district consolidations involving 15,000,000 to 50,000,000 tons yearly have been discussed, but failed because of disagreement among the companies concerned. All amalgamations effected have been through private initiative by agreement among stockholders of the participating companies. In the meantime economic pressure has eliminated a large number of mines. Between 1923 and 1928 prices at mines fell off one-third. The majority of companies lost heavily and many failed. Commercial mines numbering 2,881 were forced to close. Annual mine capacity was reduced by 21,000,000 tons and 183,000 men were discharged. As a result, the mines remaining in operation worked somewhat more steadily and more of the business was concentrated in the larger companies. However, employment is still very irregular, the average number of days operated in 1928 being only 203. The number of mines in operation is still very large, in 1928 about 6,450 commercial mines being operated by about 5,000 companies. The largest commercial company produces only 4 per cent of the total output.

In the anthracite mines, a merger of two of the largest companies was effected in 1929, the combined company, however, controlling less than one-fifth of the total output of the country. Under the pressure of competition, individual companies have closed the less efficient mines and have attempted to reduce costs.

MECHANIZATION

In the bituminous mines, there is no organized plan of rationalization, but widespread efforts have been made by individual companies to reduce costs by mechanizing mines, and to improve the product by mechanical screening, washing, and air cleaning. This movement finds expression in national committees on coal mine mechanization, organized by the American Mining Congress, a voluntary trade association. Principal emphasis is laid on improvement in underground management and the introduction of loading machinery, scrapers, and face conveyors. The tonnage loaded mechanically without hand shoveling increased from 2,000,000 tons in 1923 to 15,000,000 tons in 1928. The tonnage mined by power shovels in open pits is also increasing, now amounting to 20,000,000 tons.

The following table shows the coal mined by undercutting machines:

Coal mined by undercutting machines, 1916–1927

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As a result of the mechanization of bituminous mines, the output (in net tons) per man employed per day increased as under. Particulars are also shown for anthracite mines.

1918

1919

1920

1921

1922

1923

1924

1925

1926

1927

1928

Total bituminous.
Anthracite....

3. 78
2. 29

3. 84
2. 14

4.00
2. 28

4. 20
2.09

4. 28
2.31

4. 47
2. 21

4. 56
2.00

4. 52
2. 12

4. 50
2.09

4. 55
2. 15

4.73

Grand total.

3. 45

3. 41

3. 65

3. 55

3.89

3.91

3.81

4.04

3. 92

3. 96

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