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the coal mines of this country in the calendar year 1914, displacing more than an equal amount of relatively dangerous black powder. No great explosion disaster has been traced to the use of these explosives, and their introduction marks one of the greatest advances yet made in reducing dangers incident to work in dusty or gaseous coal mines.
Safeguarding the use of electricity in mines.—Through the bureau's efforts, manufacturers have devised electrical switches and motors that greatly lessen the danger of gas explosions. Also, the bureau's activities have led to the manufacture of approved types of lamps for miners and have caused several States to enact stricter laws regarding the use of electricity in mines.
Formation of rescue and first-aid corps at mines.-By training miners in rescue methods and in first aid the Bureau of Mines has stimulated the movement toward increasing safety and lessening accidents in all industries. Since the beginning of this educational work by the Government 33,552 miners have been trained by the bureau, and as an outcome of this work 200 men have been rescued from mines after explosions or other disasters. Many first-aid and rescue corps have been established at mines, and interest in greater safety is increased by field contests between them. In the fiscal year 1914 more than 8,500 miners were trained by the crews of the bureau's mine-rescue cars and stations, and nearly 54,000 attended the lectures and demonstrations.
Improvement of health conditions in mines.- Various investigations relating to the health of miners are in progress. During the fiscal year an investigation at zinc and lead mines in Missouri, made in cooperation with the Bureau of the Public Health Service, revealed the importance of siliceous dust in mine air as a cause of pulmonary tuberculosis. As a result, active measures to abate dust and to make conditions in and about the mines more healthful are being taken by State and local authorities, by mining companies, and by miners.
Results of fuel investigations. As a result of the bureau's work there has been compiled a series of comparable analyses of the coals found in the different parts of this country, which are of the greatest value to Government engineers and purchasing agents and to all large users of coal. Through the purchase of coal under specifications prepared by the bureau the Government annually saves $200,000. The results of other investigations are showing how fuel may be used most efficiently in Government and private power and heating plants.
Increased efficiency in the production and utilization of petroleum and natural gas.- Investigations in different oil and gas fields have shown enormous waste of oil and gas, much of it underground and
unnoticed, and the bureau has demonstrated that this loss may be minimized and the yield of oil fields greatly increased by practicable methods of drilling and casing, especially by the use of mud fluid in drilling. Other investigations have developed practicable methods of controlling wells of high gas pressure and have indicated the precautions to be taken to prevent fires at wells and storage tanks.
Increased efficiency in the utilization of petroleum is assured by the Rittman processes devised by a chemical engineer of the bureau. One of these processes will enable refiners to increase the output of gasoline from crude petroleum 200 per cent or more, as compared with old methods, and thus assure lower prices for gasoline as compared with prices for crude oil, and prevent monopolization of the production of gasoline, the patent rights being dedicated to the public. Another process for the manufacture of benzol and toluol, used in the manufacture of synthetic dyes and high explosives, is now in successful operation on a commercial scale. The patent right and all patentable processes and ideas developed in connection with experimental work on it have been dedicated to the public. Heretofore benzol and toluol have been obtained chiefly from gas works or by-product coke ovens, and the invention opens up an entirely new source of supply and is of immense prospective importance to the chemical industries of the country.
Benefits from metallurgical investigations.—Metallurgical work by the bureau has been confined almost entirely to the smeltersmoke problem. The bureau has cooperated with the Selby and Anaconda smelter commissions, and the report of the Selby Smelter Commission is about to be published as a bulletin of the bureau. The work of this commission has attracted much attention, and its methods of procedure are being followed in other investigations of complaints of damage from smelter smoke in different parts of the country. A process devised by Dr. Cottrell, chief chemist of the bureau, has proved successful in. precipitating injurious fumes in smelter smoke, and investigations in progress are showing how damage to vegetation from smelter smoke may be greatly lessened. The bureau is giving especial attention to the study of processes for removing sulphur from smelter gases.
Investigations of methods of treating low-grade and complex nonferrous ores are showing what methods are needed or what changes in old methods should be made in order to treat millions of tons of low-grade ore in the Western States that now lie unworked because profitable processes for saving the contained metals have not been perfected.
A study of accident prevention at blast furnaces and steel plants has already shown what are the common hazards to which workmen
at such plants are exposed and how accidents may be greatly lessened. Statistics of accidents, by causes, at stamp mills, cyanide plants, and metallurgical works other than iron and steel mills have been compiled and published. These figures supplement those on accidents at coal mines, metal mines, quarries, and coke ovens, and are the first detailed statistics on accidents at metallurgical plants that have been prepared in this country.
Improvement of mining laws and regulations. In its efforts to aid the enactment of State laws to increase safety and efficiency in mining and the mineral industry, the bureau has published digests of court decisions bearing on laws relating to mining, and is now publishing, with annotations giving all important court decisions, the Federal statutes that relate to mining.
Some urgent needs of the Bureau of Mines.-At no time since the bureau was established has it had funds and facilities adequate to meet the many legitimate demands made on it for investigations relating to greater safety and efficiency in the mineral industries. Not only have the number and urgency of these demands increased more rapidly than the ability to meet them, but the lack of necessary equipment has at times embarrassed the bureau in its efforts to save the lives of miners. To meet these urgent needs facilities should be provided as soon as practicable.
An act of Congress, approved March 3, 1915 (40 Stat., 959), directs the Secretary of the Interior to establish and maintain in the important mining regions of the United States, under the Bureau of Mines and in accordance with the provisions of its organic act, 10 mining experiment stations and 7 mine safety stations, the latter movable or stationary, in addition to those already established. These stations are to make investigations and disseminate information with a view to improving conditions in the mineral industries, safeguarding the lives of workers, and preventing unnecessary waste of resources. The act provides that not more than three of the mining experiment stations and not more than three of the mine safety stations shall be established in any one year.
Under this law three mining experiment stations can and should be established during the current year, each in an important mining center where investigations will increase the yield of metals now being mined or will result in the mining of deposits now unworked. It is proposed that each station shall investigate the problems that particularly concern the development and utilization of the mineral wealth of the region in which the station is situated, and it is expected that each State in which a station is situated will cooperate in the study of mining problems that are local or concern that State by supplementing the appropriations made by Congress. The wording
of the act will prevent duplication of work at different stations and will coordinate all investigations to the best advantage of the public.
Some of the problems that should receive the special attention of these stations are improvements of metal-mining methods, to insure larger recovery of ore and better safety and health conditions for miners; investigations of metallurgical processes for the treatment of ores, with the object of eliminating losses that now amount to millions of dollars annually; and investigations of methods or processes whereby mineral deposits now unworked can be made sources of national wealth.
Each of the three new mine safety stations is to have headquarters in a region where facilities are now lacking for rendering prompt and effective aid at times of mine disasters or for conducting demonstrations and training in first-aid and rescue methods, such as have already reduced the loss of property in mine disasters, lessened the sufferings and the period of disability of victims of accidents, and saved men entombed by mine disasters.
The per capita value of the yearly contribution of each worker in the mining and mineral industries is much greater than that of each worker in the agricultural industries, including forestry; so also is the contribution of the mineral industries to the freight tonnage of the country as compared with that of agriculture. But enormous quantities of low-grade ore lie unworked because of the lack of profitable methods of obtaining the contained metals, and the losses and wastes in the development and utilization of the country's mineral resources are estimated to exceed $1,000,000 a day. Improved methods of mining, treating, and utilizing our mineral resources are essential to the upbuilding of the regions in which these resources lie, to the increase of our national wealth, and to our industrial independence among the nations of the earth.
In the coal mines of this country last year there were 748,000 persons employed, of whom 2,785 were killed and 128,000 were injured. In the metal mines 193,000 persons were employed, of whom 683 were killed and 32,970 were injured. The total number of persons employed in all the metallurgical plants, including iron and steel works, is unknown, but in stamp mills, cyanide plants, smelters other than iron blast furnaces, 35,550 persons were employed, of whom 6,270 were injured. In the mineral industry as a whole it is probable that during the year more than 4,000 persons were killed and 200,000 were injured. These figures show the need of continuing and extending the work for greater safety that the bureau has been carrying on, for as yet the bureau has been able to reach directly, through the educational work conducted from its stations and cars, only a small percentage of all the 2,300,000 workers in the mineral industries of the United States.
Since the transfer under Executive order of July 15, 1909, of the supervision of affairs in Porto Rico to the Insular Bureau of the War Department the former Territories of New Mexico and Arizona have been admitted as States, and there now remains under this department the supervision of but two Territories—Alaska and Hawaii.
General conditions.—The report of the governor shows that during the fiscal year Alaska has made substantial progress in the development of its natural resources. There was greatly increased mining activity in the southeastern and southwestern sections, and increased attention was given to agriculture in different districts of the Territory. Conspicuous features of the mining progress made in Alaska were the continued development on a large scale of lode mines in the southeastern division, where there are now a number of the largest producing gold mines in the United States, and the heavy increase in the production of copper, due to the sharp advance in the price of that metal during the last half of the fiscal year. As a result all the copper mines of the Territory have resumed work, and there is a steady shipment of ores to the States for treatment. There are no smelters for refractory ores in Alaska and these are shipped elsewhere for treatment. During the present year some of the highgrade copper ores have been shipped to as far distant points as Salt Lake City, Utah. With the opening of the coal mines it may be expected that smelters will be built in Alaska, as excellent coking coal is found in the coal fields of the Matanuska and Bering Rivers.
General business, mining, fishing, commercial, industrial, and economic conditions may be said to have been fairly satisfactory during the year. Its people have faith in their country and are building homes and establishing permanent communities, but there is still too much bureaucratic control and direction of the Territory's affairs and resources. The official red tape, which in times past was wound about nearly everything pertaining to Alaska, was such as to strangle the efforts of the individual and subject him to injustice and hardships that were both burdensome and grievous. This condition has been abated to some extent, but there is still need for improvement in this respect. All matters bearing a natural relation to Alaska should be treated from within it and not by a multiplicity of bureaus thousands of miles distant from the Territory.
Mining.–The placer gold production for the current year, 1915, promises to exceed that of the previous year. The placer mining season of 1915 has been satisfactory, there having been an abundant rainfall in most of the mining districts. Two new mining districts