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usually securing a better price that way than by doing all his business with one buyer.
Only high-grade ores are dealt in. The standard blende contains 60 per cent zinc and the standard calamine, 40 per cent. Naturally the zinc content varies more or less from the standard figures. In small lots of ore this is taken care of by an estimate on the part of the buyer. Larger lots are sampled. The usual practice is to deduct $1 from the base price for 60 per cent blende for each 1 per cent (unit) of zinc less than the standard assay provided the ore contains 50 per cent or more of the metal. Conversely a premium of $1 is paid for each 1 per cent that an ore may run over 60 per cent.
Penalties on iron are at the rate of $1 a unit (or 1 per cent) if present in excess of 1 per cent; but the lower limit is frequently overTooked, and an iron content of even 6 per cent is often not penalized. Lead penalties exist for a content in excess of one-half per cent; but this practice similarly is not invariable. Lime in excess of 2 per cent is penalized quite generally at 50 cents per unit. ·
The smelter buys the ore outright at the place where it is offered for sale and pays the freight to the smelting plant. The smelter's margin is the difference between the value of the spelter that he obtains from a ton of ore at the base point, usually St. Louis, and the price he pays for the ore at the mine. This margin usually varies between $8 and $17 and must cover freight on ore, smelting cost, freight on spelter to market, selling cost, and profit. In addition to the profit on the zinc, some smelters also obtain a profit from the making of sulphuric acid obtained as a by-product from roasting the
Blende containing less than 50 per cent zinc is sold on a different scale. Such ores are generally sold by contract, the price depending on the market price of spelter plus å smelter charge. The smelter charge varies from about $5 for ore valued at under $14 to $10 for ore valued at $50 or over.
The market for western ores is also largely contractual. A characteristic schedule is as follows: A base price of $22
a ton is paid for 45 per cent zinc concentrate, delivered f. o. b. Oklahoma, when spelter sells at 5 cents a pound in St. Louis. Market variation, $6; that is, for each 1 cent increase (decrease) in the St. Louis price of spelter, $6 is added (subtracted) from the base price of $22. Assay variation, $1; that is, for every 1 per cent variation in zinc contents above (below) 45 per cent, $1 is added (subtracted) from the $22 base price.
The only regular quotations for zinc ore are the records of sales and offerings in the Mississippi Valley region, centering about Joplin, Mo., and Platteville, Wis. The market reports for these centers give not only the average prices for 60 per cent blende and for 40 per cent calamine, but also the prices for premium or "high" ore-a product suitable for making the highest grade of spelter and singularly free from lead and other harmful impurities. Average sales prices for all classes are also quoted.
The premium paid for ore suitable for making high grade or intermediate grades of spelter increased considerably during the war period. The gauge of market conditions is the medium grade ore, just as common or prime Western spelter is the true index of the metal market. In general, this ore may be said to contain approximately 60 per cent zinc and from 0.5 to 1 per cent lead.
While the lead content is the most important factor in classifying the different grades of ore in the Mississippi Valley region, the amounts of iron and lime also enter into consideration. There is no really fixed rule of purchase, and the specifications (if any) that certain buyers use for distinguishing between premium and medium grades are vague and variable.1
TARIFF HISTORY OF ZINC ORE.
In the act of May 2, 1792, lapis calaminaris—calamine-was put on the free list, and continued there until the act of August 30, 1842, when it was not enumerated and therefore fell under the “catchall” clause which fixed a duty of 20 per cent ad valorem. In the same act teutenague” (spelter) was specifically mentioned and made free of duty. Presumably, therefore, the omission of the ore was an oversight and there was no intention to place any duty on it.
However, in the act of July 30, 1846, calamine, under that name, was specifically mentioned and made dutiable at 20 per cent ad valorem, while spelter was admitted at 5 per cent ad valorem.
Under the act of March 3, 1857, the duty on calamine was reduced to 15
The same unusual relation was maintained and the rate on
1 In an effort to clear up the obscurity of the market reported from Joplin and from Platteville, the Engineering and Mining Journal requested its correspondents to send in their explanations. These were pub. lished in volume 103 (1917), page 781. The following extracts give much light on the situation:
Joplin.-"Every buyer has a distinctive 'theory of purchase, regulated by the requirements of the smelting company he represents. He pays the price required to procure the quality and quantity he needs. Sometimes it is lead-free, other times lime-free, again low iron content, or multiple combinations of these points. There is not and never was a fixed rule of purchase. * * *
“While there is nominally recognized an assay base, it may be converted into almost endless variations by different docking' methods. Under special stress of demand any blende usually termed medium grade may sell on a base par with premium blende. Thus at times the same figure is used in the two positions. The high-price figure used each week is the highest selling price reported. All prices are based on carload lots or larger shipments."
Platteville.-"* * As a practical matter there is no definite and distinct line of demarcation which can be said to prevail at all times between premium or first class, and second grade or medium-class zinc ore."
spelter was reduced to 4 per cent and even zinc sheets were admitted under a 12 per cent duty.
Calamine returned once more to the free list in the act of March 2, 1861, and there remained until the act of 1909, when specific duties were imposed on “zinc-bearing ores of all kinds, including calamine" containing over 10 per cent of zinc. A duty of one-fourth cent per pound was levied on the actual zinc content of ores containing between 10 and 20 per cent zinc; one-half cent on the zinc content of ore containing between 20 and 25 per cent; and 1 cent per pound on the zinc content of all ores running 25 per cent zinc, or more.
Zinc ore was not mentioned except as calamine until the 1909 act. The matter had been of no consequence until 1905 when Kansan smelters began to make large imports of calamine from Mexico. The producers of zinc ore in Missouri became alarmed at this foreign competition and sought to put a stop to it. The first step was to induce the Treasury Department to order that sulphide or blende be assessed at 20 per cent ad valorem as a metallic mineral substance, not specially provided for. This action effectually excluded the Canadian ore. Another order, defining “calamine as silicate of zinc only, which would have excluded the bulk of the Mexican cre (largely carbonate), was protested by the smelters. The supply of Mexican carbonate was abundant and it was a much sought material. The Board of General Appraisers reversed the Treasury Department's construction of the law, and classified both carbonates and silicates of zinc as within the meaning of the term calamine as used in the act of 1897, and consequently free of duty; and sulphide of zinc (blende) was also considered free of duty as a crude mineral not advanced in value or condition by any process of manufacture, subject only to a duty of 1.5 cents per pound on any lead contained therein. (G. A. 6036, T. D. 26355 of 1905; T. D. 27099 of 1906; G. A. 6540, T. D. 27891 of 1907; Abstracts 14438, 14439, T. D. 27937 of 1907.)
The board's decision was upheld by the United States Circuit Court (T. D. 29006 of 1908). Although the decision rested upon English instead of American usage of the term calamine, the Circuit Court of Appeals for the fifth circuit affirmed the judgment of the Circuit Court (United States v. Brewster, 167 Fed., 122, T. D. 29547 of 1909). The ruling on sulphide or blende depended upon the interpretation that “metallic mineral substances" applies only to substances in which the metal appears free or native. Since the only ores of this type that are of any importance commercially are gold, silver, and copper ores, which were specifically placed on the free list, the ruling made the clause in the Dingley Act, meaningless.
Zinc exceeding 10 per cent in ores containing both zinc and lead was held dutiable, as well as the lead, under the act of 1909 (Consolidated Kansas City Smelting and Refining Co. v. United States, 1 Ct. Cust. Appls., 472 of 1911).
The effect of the act of 1909 was to reduce greatly the imports of zinc-bearing ore of all kinds, but especially that containing the higher percentages of this metal. The duties provided for ore containing the smaller percentages of zinc caused some hardship to Mexican producers of lead and copper ores. Many of these ores contain more or less zinc which, as an accessory constituent, is a positive detriment, since it is lost in the smelting process and is penalized by the smelter.
The act of 1913 substituted an ad valorem duty for the sliding scale under the previous act. It also had the effect of reducing the duty to less than the lowest rate charged under the act of 1909 and, in the case of ore suitable for smelting directly for zinc (i. e., ore containing more than 30 per cent zinc), the duty was cut to approximately one-fifth its former amount. This marked reduction was not immediately followed by any great increase in imports. The quantity imported in the nine months of the fiscal year of 1914 and following the adoption of the new rates was only about one-third the quantity imported during the previous year. The only notable effect was upon the revenue, which became practically negligible, due in part to the lowered rates and partly to the disturbed conditions in Mexico, which prevented any considerable production from the mines. But in 1915 the imports of ore were the highest for any year since 1909 (when zinc ores were free) with a net revenue of only $8,358.
The appraisement of zinc ores for the assessment of the ad valorem duty was the subject of instructions of the Treasury Department, which will be found in Section II of this report.
Copper ores containing zinc in percentages varying from 3.60 to 7.30 were held dutiable on the zinc content under paragraph 162 of the act of 1913, since it was deemed to be the legislative intention to impose a duty on all zinc whether or not it was capable of commercial recovery (G. A. 7737, T. D. 35527, of 1915). A like decision was made as to lead and zinc bearing ores containing from 1.50 to 13.90 per cent of lead and from 17 to 35.50 per cent of zinc (Abstract 38559 of 1915), and also where the importer contended that zinc is dutiable only when 20 per cent or more is contained in the ore (Abstract 42207 of 1918).
The following decisions were furthermore made concerning the undervaluation of zinc ore (National Zinc Co. v. United States, 7 Ct. Cust. Appls., 145, T. D. 36461, of 1916—followed in Abstract 40635, of 1917):
1. Undervaluation-Paragraph I of section 3, tariff act of 1913.-When zinc ore was entered, in accordance with the estimate on the
consular invoice as being 40 per cent zinc, and the subsequent official assay showed 46.6 per cent zinc, there was no undervaluation such as would subject it to the "additional duty” provisions of Paragraph I of section 3, tariff act of 1913. But when the entry stated the market value of the zinc in a ton of 40 per cent zinc ore to be less than the consular invoice showed, less than the price stated for it in the contract under which it was purchased, and less than the true market value as found by the appraiser, there was.
2. Construction-Paragraph N, subsection 1, section 4, and Paragraph 1. of section 3, tariff act of 1913.—The fact that zinc ore was entered for rewarehousing to be smelted and the zinc exported does not relieve it of the additional duty incurred under Paragraph I of section 3, tariff act of 1913, for undervaluation, since Paragraph N, subsection 1, section 4, provides that the amount of the duties payable upon such imported ores at the time of their importation shall stand charged against the bonds of the bonded warehouses, and that the metals producible from the bonded ores or any portion thereof may be withdrawn for domestic consumption upon the payment of the duties chargeable against an equivalent amount of ores from which said metals would be producible in their condition as imported. Especially is this true in view of the provision of Paragraph I that the additional duties levied thereunder shall not be refunded “in case of exportation of the merchandise, or on any other account, nor shall they be subject to the benefit of drawback.
3. Clerical error, manifest, what not.-An understatement of the market value per ton of zinc ore, varying from the consular invoice and from the price stated in the contract for purchasing it, the arithmetical extension in the entry, being correctly made upon the basis of the declared price per ton, declared number of tons, and declared percentage of zinc content, is not manifest clerical error within the meaning of Paragraph Y of section 3, tariff act of 1913.
4. Construction—Paragraph 162, tarif" act of 1913.- The fact that paragraph 162, tariff act of 1913, provides a special method of appraising zinc ores does not relieve them from being entered upon invoice as other importations, nor does it relieve their importer from the consequences of undervaluation.
Rates of duty.
Tariff classification or description.
Rates of duty, specific and ad valorem.
1883 1890 1894 1897
or grinding, or by other process of manufacture, not specially
provided for in this act.
Containing less than 10 per cent of zinc, shall be admitted Do.
free of duty. Containing 10 per cent or more of zinc and less than 20 per cent, 1 cent per pound. one-fourth of 1 cent per pound on the zinc contained therein. Containing 20 per cent or more of zinc and less than 25 per cent, 1 cent per pound.
one-half of 1 cent per pound on the zinc contained therein.
the zinc contained therein.
ad valorem upon the zinc contained therein: Provided, That on valorem.
Regulations governing the smelting, entry, and sampling of zinc are contained in articles 276 and 798–800. of the Customs Regulations of 1915 and T. D. 37546 of 1918.
COMPETITIVE CONDITIONS AND TARIFF CONSIDERATIONS.
Zinc ore is widely distributed over the world and is commonly associated with lead. In many ways the commercial as well as the geological association of the two metals, especially from the mining viewpoint, makes them quite similar in their industrial aspect. Formerly zinc was commonly considered an objectionable constituent of complex ores. But now modern methods of ore treatment make possible its profitable extraction as a joint product. The commercial success of the Wilfley table and of electromagnetic and electrostatic separation processes—all of which originated in the United States and have reached their highest development in this country-has opened up vast resources of hitherto unavailable material. The flotation