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Bulletin-27—Contributions of New Mexico’s Mineral Industry to World War II

Compiled by T. D. Benjovsky, 1947, 76 pp., 7 figs., 3 plates, 1 index.

The mineral industry of the nation during the war years supplied the tremendous manufacturing program with a huge supply of metals, nonmetals, petroleum, and natural gas. New Mexico won important rank among the states by its contribution of minerals to the war effort. This state ranked first in production of potash, tantalum, and pumice; second in zinc and tin; third in copper, molybdenum, and vanadium; fourth in beryl, lithium, and fluorspar; and seventh in oil and gas. It ranked fourteenth among the states in value of minerals produced. In a time of critical emergency it contributed essential minerals to the manufacture of the atomic bomb.

During the war, the builders of airplanes, ships, tanks, and munitions received the publicity and acclaim for setting production records. But the raw material for this production came from the rocks: after exploration, extraction, transportation, benefication, smelting, refining, and chemical or electrolitic treatment. The less glamorous but vitally important mineral industry made possible the production records of the manufacturers.

Although the increased production for war was viewed by many federal agencies and some operators with alarm, as a forced and rapid exhaustion of mineral resources, the ultimate effect was not so adverse as many expected. Increased exploration demonstrated that the potent-ialities of many known deposits were greater than had been estimated; that the possibilities of deposits only superficially prospected constitute a reserve for the future; and that there are extensive areas in which mineral deposits may be concealed by alluvium and lava flows. Premature exhaustion of petroleum resources in NM was effectively prevented by strong state and federal conservation regulations and by careful practices on the part of the industry itself.

This bulletin records the contributions of the mineral industry of NM to WWII. In addition to providing an outstanding record of achievement, the report may furnish a basis for future constructive planning in the mineral industry. A feature of the report is a number of letters from companies, including the two transcontinental railroads that cross the state, outlining their activities in NM during the war years. Production statistics are summarized in a number of tables, and several features of the wartime record are shown graphically.

 

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