THE World War suddenly brought into being a need not only for millions of men and tons of food, but for immense increases in transportation facilities and enormous quantities of equipment of all kinds. The experience taught men everywhere, as no human experience had ever taught before, the value of minerals and of the metals derived from them. Steel, copper, lead, zinc, coal, petroleum -- the common mineral products and many others little known or appreciated before, such as tungsten, chromite, manganese, molybdenum -- all were in unprecedented demand. In every quarter of the world there was a scramble for supplies. During the years since the war an almost equal furor has arisen over the effort of each nation to make itself secure for the future, either by forcing the domestic development of mineral resources or by acquiring control of foreign supplies. Not a few of the international difficulties of the post-war world have resulted from this effort.
Minerals, so essential to the complex fabric of modern life, are unequally distributed among the nations. No single nation is wholly independent as regards all of them. Thus 85 percent of the world's sulphur, one of the minerals most essential to modern industrial processes, is supplied by the United States, and 11 percent by Italy; no other country produces more than 2 percent. Nickel comes 89 percent from Canada. Of the molybdenum supply, 94 percent comes from one mine in Colorado, and 5 percent from Norway. Other similar instances might be cited. Even those minerals which are used in very large quantity, such as coal and iron, are derived mainly from but a few countries. It is the peculiar characteristic of minerals that they can neither be reproduced nor transplanted. The British introduced rubber from Brazil to Malaya; but the tin which is mined in Malaya was there already, and all the British could do was to develop the existing reserves.
In view of the essential rôle played in the modern world by minerals, and in view of
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