The Strategy of Raw Materials: A Study of America in Peace and War

By Brooks Emeny | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
MISCELLANEOUS MINERALS

TIN

STRATEGICALLY speaking, tin belongs to a different category from the metals thus far discussed in that its principal value is derived rather from the convenience it affords to modern living than from its absolute war necessity. There are, furthermore, very few industrial uses for which a substitute cannot be found; and in cases where this would not hold, the population in general, rather than the military in particular, would suffer. Its strategic significance lies primarily, therefore, in the extensive readjustments which would be imposed by the adoption of substitutes, to the extent that stocks on hand and secondary recovery of the metal would not be able to make up for the possible deficiencies in imports.1

From the international point of view, tin offers some peculiar contrasts both as to world production and consumption. As is illustrated on the map, the equatorial regions, particularly the Malay States, Dutch East Indies, Bolivia, and Nigeria, are the dominant producers. The mine output from these, moreover, is controlled largely by British, Chinese, Bolivian, and Dutch interests, accounting respectively for 33, 23, 17 and 16 per cent of total production. On the other

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1
Although there are a few minor deposits of tin in Alaska, and even smaller outcroppings located in the Carolinas, Virginia, North Dakota, Texas and California, they are incapable of providing to any appreciable extent a domestic source of supply. The highest recorded output from these reserves occurred in 1916 when 140 tons were produced; the average for 1925-29 being only 25 tons. It has been estimated that, in time of emergency, and provided a year to eighteen months were allowed for installment of plant, an annual output ranging from 3,000 to 6,000 tons of metal, at a price, might be achieved for a brief period. But even the latter figure would provide for less than 8 per cent of our normal demand and cannot be counted upon, therefore, as a promising source of war supply. (See Minerals Yearbook, 1932- 33, opus cit., p. 285; chapters on "Tin" in Mineral Resources of the United States, 1919-31, opus cit., Part I; "Report of Subcommittee on Tin," International Control of Minerals, opus cit., pp. 118-26.)

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