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The fall in the Indian output of manganese-ore of recent years can be correlated with the fall in the price of first-grade ore, c.i.f. United Kingdom ports, from an average of 22.9d. per unit in 1924 to 14-9d. per unit in 1929, and then to 9-5d. per unit in 1932 and 1933, whilst the partial recovery in output in 1934 accompanied a rise in the average price to 10-5d. per unit, to 12-26d. in 1936, and to 22-5d. in 1937.
This continued fall in the price of manganese-ore from 1924 to 1932 is to be correlated with the fact that from 1924 to 1927 the rate of increase of the world's production of manganese-ore was much greater than the rate of increase in the world's production of pig-iron and steel. And although there was a fall in the world's output of manganese-ore in 1928, there was a very large increase in 1929, greater than was justified by the increased production of iron and steel in that year, and it is evident that the world's available supplies of manganese-ore are now much in excess of normal requirements. Russia is able to place large quantities of ore on the market at a price with which many Indian producers cannot compete without a return to pre-war railway freights. The Gold Coast has also become a serious competitor of recent years. The large deposits of high-grade manganese-ore discovered near Postmasburg in South Africa are also being developed. With this increasing competition and falling prices it is not surprising, therefore, that in spite of the apparent prosperity of the Indian manganese industry in 1929 and 1930, as judged from figures of production and export, yet by 1930 the industry as a whole had arrived at a stage of relative depression, causing many operators to cease work. Added to increased available supplies there was in 1931 and 1932 the disastrous decline in the activities of the iron and steel industry of the world, illustrated by a decline from the peak figure of 122 million tons of steel in 1929 to about 68 million tons in 1931 and only 42 million tons in 1932. In 1933 there was partial revival and the output of steel was some 56.4 million tons rising to about 68 million tons in 1934, 82-3 million tons in 1935, 103 million tons in 1936, and 111.9 million tons (estimated) in 1937. This partial recovery in the steel industry resulted in the hardening in the price of manganese-ore from 1934 to 1936 recorded in the preceding paragraph.
The present chief sources of production of manganese-ore are Russia, India, the Gold Coast, South Africa, Brazil, Cuba, Egypt, Czechoslovakia and Japan.
There is a steady consumption of manganese-ore at the works of the two principal Indian iron and steel companies, not only for use in the steel furnaces of the Tata Iron and Steel Company, and for the manufacture of ferro-manganese, but also for addition to the blast-furnace charge in the manufacture of pig-iron. The consumption of manganese-ore by the Indian iron and steel industry in the year under review amounted to 60,219 tons against 46,221 tons in 1936.
TABLE 27.-Quantity and value of Manganese-ore produced in India during the years 1936 and 1937.
The partial recovery of the Indian manganese industry during 1934 and 1935 was reflected in an increase of exports, including the quantities exported from Mormugao in Portuguese India, from the nadir of 375,904 tons in 1933 to 864,698 tons in 1935. In 1936 this fell to 742,547 tons, but rose to 1,151,834 tons in 1937. Table 29 shows the distribution of manganese-ore exported from British Indian ports (excluding Mormugao) during 1936 and 1937, from which it will be seen that the United Kingdom with an increase of some 53,000 tons retained her position as the chief importer of Indian manganese-ore. The second place as importer was taken by France with an increase of some 92,000 tons, with Japan as third with an increase of some 70,000 tons; Belgium showed an increase of 75,000 tons and the United States 34,000 tons.
TABLE 28.-Exports of Manganese-ore during 1936 and 1937 according to ports of shipment.
TABLE 29.-Exports of Manganese-ore from British Indian ports during the years 1936 and 1937.
There was a rise in the declared production of mica from 87,071 cwts. valued at Rs. 32,52,350 (£244,538) in 1936 to 104,478 cwts., valued at Rs. 39.50,281 (£297,014) in 1937. As has been frequently pointed out the output figures are incomplete and a more accurate idea of the size of the industry is to be obtained from the export figures. (Table 31.)
The difference between exports and production has generally been attributed to theft from the mines, but the production recorded is for dressed mica only, whereas the exports include, as well as this, much material recovered from dumps, splittings and waste mica, and mica won in Zamindaries and in prospecting. This, as well as stolen mica, makes up the discrepancy.
The United States of America and the United Kingdom, which are the principal importers of Indian mica, absorbed respectively 51.8 per cent. and 24-2 per cent. during 1936, and 62-3 per cent. and 22.1 per cent. during 1937. Germany took 10.7 per cent. and
6.3 per cent. respectively, of the total quantities exported during the years 1936 and 1937. The average value of the exported mica decreased from Rs. 51-7 (£3-9) per cwt. in 1936 to Rs. 48-3 (£3.6) in 1937. The exports rose from 177,664 cwts. valued at Rs. 91,76,511 (£689,963) in 1936 to 297,343 cwts., valued at Rs. 1,43,60,036 (£1,079,702) in 1937.
TABLE 30.--Quantity and value of Mica produced in India during the years 1936 and 1937.