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LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL
UNITED STATES TARIFF COMMISSION,
The Committee on Ways and Means
of the House of Representatives:
I have the honor to transmit herewith, in accordance with your request, information compiled by the United States Tariff Commission on zinc ore.
THOMAS WALKER PAGE,
EFFECTS OF THE WAR.
The European War created a profound disturbance of the zinc industry of the world. The effect was most marked in the United States, which for many years prior to 1914 had been only a negligible factor in the international trade in ore and metal. The domestic industry was maintained behind a tariff-wall and neither imports nor exports were of any importance. The only ore exported was a few thousand tons of high grade material from New Jersey which was used in Europe for making zinc oxide. A little ore was imported, especially from Mexico, but the quantity was small as compared with the domestic output. The situation was similar in the case of the metal.
But this was all changed by the war. Germany and Belgium, which had hitherto supplied international trade, were eliminated as sources of supply. The Allied governments required enormous amounts of zinc and brass for the manufacture of munitions. These factors resulted in a remarkable expansion of the American industry. The output of domestic zinc mines in 1916 and 1917 was nearly double the prewar rate. A number of new reduction works were built in the United States and these treated, in addition to domestic ore, some of the Australian concentrates which had formerly been smelted in Europe and also considerable ore from Mexico, Canada, and South America. Part of this foreign ore was imported for domestic consumption, but the greater part of it was smelted in bond. A large fraction of the zinc recovered from the imported ore upon which duty had been paid was reexported with benefit of drawback.
Late in 1917, however, the foreign demand slackened. The price of zinc receded to levels that made unprofitable the operation of many reduction works and mines whose costs had increased greatly under war conditions. Many smelteries were forced to close down and this was followed by a collapse in the ore market. Stocks of metal and ore accumulated as never before in the history of the industry. A great many properties maintained production in 1918, but few of them returned a profit in the face of high costs and low prices for their product. Some of the best and richest properties have shut down while weaker concerns are still desperately trying to keep going. Competition from foreign ore is not the only important factor although, of course, the imports, large as compared with prewar receipts, have aggravated the situation to some extent. The chief trouble was expansion of production under war