Page images
PDF
EPUB

FULLER'S EARTH.

The United States produces more than two-thirds of the fuller's earth it consumes; and, when it is considered that deposits of this mineral were unknown in this country prior to 1891 and that prior to 1895 there was no regular production, the progress of the industry has been remarkable. The production of fuller's earth in 1913 was about 39,000 tons, valued at $397,000; the imports were 18,600 tons, valued at $146,000.

The principal sources of supply are in Florida, Georgia, and Massachusetts; but there was a small production during 1913 in Arkansas, California, Colorado, and South Carolina. Other deposits from which large supplies may be drawn occur in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, South Dakota, Utah, and Virginia, so that the supply is adequate and our industrial independence with reference to this commodity is assured.

Fuller's earth is used in the manufacture of wall-paper pigments; for detecting certain coloring matters in food products; as a substitute for talcum powder; and for fulling cloth. But its principal use is for bleaching or filtering mineral and vegetable oils and animal fats.

Many samples of American earth are distinctly superior in bleaching power to the English earth, and investigations conducted by the Bureau of Mines have shown the fuller's earth of the United States to be better suited for refining edible oils than the imported product. In order to assure the almost universal use of this earth by American refiners of oil there is required only a careful and intelligent technical control of the preparation of the output and its application to the bleaching of oils.

In the use of fuller's earth for bleaching oils there is apparently a necessary waste of approximately 25,000 tons each year. This discarded material also carries with it between 2,500 and 5,000 tons of valuable edible oil as well. The methods of revivifying fuller's earth used in refining mineral oil are not applicable to earth used in refining edible oils, and according to actual practice on such oils fuller's earth is now used but once. To revivify fuller's earth residues from edible oils is an easy matter in the laboratory and apparently requires only the solution of mechanical detail to make it practicable in the factory. This process completed will utilize a second and third time at least 20,000 tons of fuller's earth each year, and in addition save thousands of tons of valuable oil. The process has been tried many times with laboratory samples, and the bleaching power was not diminished in the slightest. It remains for American inventive genius to discover a method by which this process may be carried out successfully on a commercial scale.

GRAPHITE.

In 1880 the output of natural graphite in the United States was valued at approximately $50,000, whereas in 1913 it was valued at $324,000, an increase of 650 per cent. The natural graphite produced in 1913 was 4,340 tons, as compared with 5,230 tons of artificial graphite. The value of artificial graphite is approximately double that of natural graphite, and has largely taken the place of the better grades of natural graphite formerly imported from Ceylon, Korea, Mexico, and Canada, although imports from those countries amount to more than 20,000 tons annually. Practically none of the crude

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

9,000,000 8,000,000

7,000,000
6.000,000
5.000.000
4,000,000

3,000,000
2,000,000

1,000,000

Year SMS

Fig. 13.-Diagram showing production of manufactured graphite in the United

States from inception of the industry in 1897 to 1914, inclusive.

graphite produced in the United States is exported, but the United States does export graphite products of domestic manufacture.

The principal areas in which natural graphite is produced are from the Adirondack Mountains in New York to northern Alabama. In addition a number of mines in the Western States produce small quantities.

Graphite is manufactured on a commercial scale from amorphus carbon (anthracite coal or petroleum coke) at Niagara Falls, N. Y., by the Acheson process, a distinctly American achievement. This process, which employs the electric furnace, was patented in 1896, and its commercial development has been so rapid (see the curve, fig. 13) that the output of artificial graphite exceeds this country's production of natural crystalline graphite by more than 900 tons.

Anthracite coal containing little ash is used for manufacturing ordinary grades and petroleum coke for the purest grades. An important part of the industry at Niagara Falls is the graphitization of rods and bars of amorphus nongraphitic carbon for use mainly in electrodes in electro-chemical industries. In spite of the output of artificial graphite, the demand for the natural product has increased very largely in recent years, because of the growth of the industries in which it is used.

Graphite finds its principal practical application in the manufacture of crucibles and other refractory products for use in the steel, brass, bronze, and other metal industries. Its chemical inertness and ability to withstand high temperatures make it invaluable for such purposes. Graphite crucibles are superior to clay crucibles for such purposes, because they conduct the heat more readily from the fire without to the metal within and because they are stronger. It is essential in the manufacture of lead pencils and the better grades of stove polishes, and is also used for foundry facings, paints, and for lubrication. Artificial graphite is suited for nearly all the uses to which natural graphite is applied except the manufacture of refractory wares.

Most of the American deposits do not yield as pure graphite as a number of foreign deposits, in particular those of Ceylon, but the mechanical difficulties of concentrating the low-grade native product have been partly overcome and several concerns in the eastern United States now produce grades of natural graphite that successfully compete with high-grade foreign products. Although at present the imports of natural graphite are more than four times as large (by value) as the domestic production, there can be no question whatever that in event of the foreign supply being cut off the domestic production, including the artificial, could be rapidly expanded to fully meet all our requirements for decades.

MINERAL WATERS..

The total production of mineral waters, including both medicinal and table water, in the United States in 1913 from 838 commercial springs was 58,000,000 gallons, valued at $5,600,000, an average value of 10 cents a gallon. The production in 1883, the first year for which reliable statistics are available, was 7,500,000 gallons, valued at $1,100,000, or at an average value of 15 cents a gallon, and the total number of commercial springs was 189. The number of commercial springs has increased almost regularly since 1883. In 1913 the value of medicinal waters was $1,428,000 and that of table waters $1,200,000.

8161°-INT 1915—VOL 1-14

The total imports of mineral waters into the United States in 1913 amounted to 3,365,000 gallons, valued at $956,000, or an average price of 28 cents a gallon. More than two-thirds of the imported water comes from France, Germany, and Austria-Hungary. The imports comprise all classes of water, but with the exception of one well-known table water are mostly medicinal waters. There are no statistics regarding exports of mineral waters from the United States, but it is understood that only a few, like Poland, Pluto, and Abilena, are exported. Fourteen States produce more than 1,000,000 gallons a year each, the leaders in order being New York, Wisconsin, California, Maine, Indiana, and Virginia.

The chemical composition of mineral waters is so complex and various that it is practically impossible to match one natural water with another. However, practically all foreign waters can be duplicated as to main constituents and general character by dozens of waters in this country. Sulphate, sulphur, carbon-dioxated, and all other varieties are found in various parts of the United States, and doubtless nothing except their names keeps up the sale of foreign waters, generally at prices higher than those which can be obtained for domestic waters. As more attention is given American waters and to the development of springs as resorts, the sales of foreign waters will diminish.

WHAT THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT HAS DONE, IS DOING, AND

CAN DO FOR THE MINERAL INDUSTRY.

In the course of the foregoing review of our resources, attention has been called to the work of the Department of the Interior in pointing out the extent and value of some of these resources and indicating the ways whereby present wastes in production and utilization could be prevented or minimized and these resources, through wise conservation, be made to contribute more to our national wealth and prosperity, and also to render us practically independent of other countries for raw materials or manufactured products.

To show how the work of the department has benefited each of the many industries that collectively make up the mineral industry of the United States, or to show in how many different ways, under the authority given by Congress, the department can aid in bringing about that wise and efficient utilization of our resources which should be the ideal of our legislators and men of affairs, would involve the compilation of a mass of facts too large to be presented here. The brief outline that is given herewith will, however, serve to show the variety, extent, and vital importance of the work that the department has undertaken for the upbuilding of our mineral industry and the promotion of the national welfare.

WORK OF THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT FOR THE UTILIZATION OF NATIONAL RESOURCES.

Classification of the public lands:

By topographic and geologic surveys showing what lands still in the

possession of the Government are to be classed as mineral lands, and the relation of this latent mineral wealth to existing transportation facilities

and to centers of consumption. By tests of coal, oil, and other minerals to determine their composition,

value, and fitness for particular uses. By investigations of water-power sites and stream flows, to ascertain

favorable localities for the development of water power and to determine, by measurements extended through periods of years, the maximum and minimum power that may be obtained from a given stream at a

given locality. Aiding the development of the mineral industry:

By topographic and geologic surveys of mining regions to show the

conditions under which the mineral wealth of these regions must be developed, how mining can be done most efficiently, and transportation

facilities provided most readily. By special investigations of the occurrence, geological relations, and ex

tent of mineral deposits to determine with practicable accuracy the value

of these deposits and the most efficient methods of mining them. By collecting complete and accurate annual statistics of the production of

mines, quarries, and smelters for the information of producers and consumers of metals and minerals, and for the information of legislators in considering the laws that are to apply to the development of resources

for the upbuilding of the mineral industry. Promoting the conservation of human and material resources :

By investigations of mining and quarrying methods, with special reference

to the use of methods that will increase health and safety among miners and quarrymen and lessen or prevent loss of minerals and ores and

waste of natural resources. By investigations of methods of treating minerals and ores with reference

to the improvement of health and safety conditions among workmen and

the use of more efficient methods of recovering minerals and metals. By investigations of methods of utili our mineral resources with refer

ence to the development of safer and more efficient methods and the elimination of large wastes that are now unnecessarily depleting the

mineral reserves of the Nation. Disseminating authoritative information:

By the distribution of maps and reports showing the progress made in

determining the extent and value of the mineral resources and water powers of the Nation, and the ways in which these can be utilized to

best advantage—with least danger and with maximum efficiency. A million miners are employed in the coal mines, metal mines, and quarries of this country and probably 2,000,000 men labor in the affiliated industries that depend directly on the mines. The total value of the minerals and metals produced in this country in 1913 was nearly $2,500,000,000. These figures will serve to show the need of the investigations and work indicated above.

« PreviousContinue »