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Asbestos production volumes: history of how much asbestos was mined and produced, through the 1950's gives an indication of the stunning growth in the volume of asbestos mined and used world-wide up to the early 1980's.
This articles series about the manufacture & use of asbestos-containing products includes detailed information on the production methods, asbestos content, and the identity and use of asbestos-containing materials.
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The 1957 industrial minerals report by the Mining Industry of the Province of Quebec recorded annual shipments of chrysotile asbestos according to grades. The report was based on sales figures from Asbestos Corp., Ltd., Bell Asbestos Mines Ltd., Canadian ,Johns-Manville Co., Ltd., Flintkote Mines, Ltd., Johnson's Asbestos Co., Nicolet Asbestos Mines, Ltd., and Quebec Asbestos Corp., Ltd.
Photo at left: corrugated asbestos paper heating or water pipe insulation. See ASBESTOS PIPE-INSULATION for details.
The Canadian exports in tonnage and dollar value according to grades were: crude, 683 tons, valued at $567,731; milled, 393,311 tons, valued at $73,948,689; shorts, 636,611 tons, valued at $32,541,989. The grand total of raw asbestos was 1,030,605 tons, valued at $107,058,409. Total sales of manufactured asbestos products for the year 1957 was $1,880,097 with brake linings accounting for approximately one-third of the sales.
Based on 1955 figures, the United States produced approximately 55 tons from various mines. Typical monthly quantity of manufactured exports at the end of 1957 was 300 tons, valued at $34,590. The quantity for imports was 39,100 tons, valued at $3,950,000. For the same year of 1957, the United States Bureau of Census monthly quantity of manufactured exports was 1,700 tons, valued at $1,184,080. The quantity of imports was 2,400 tons, valued at $290,000.
Fortunately, for United States manufacturing plants, the largest asbestos producing country in the world is a border neighbor. Railroads run through the entire mining districts. Asbestos is loaded on railroad cars, and it can be shipped directly into the American continent without difficulty. From spring to autumn, ocean shipments take place from Quebec or Montreal. With the present St. Lawrence river project, delivery of asbestos to the United States will probably result in lower costs and faster shipments to certain areas.
The United States War Production Board at the close of World War II concluded that approximately 60 per cent of the total asbestos used was in the manufacture of textile goods. Non textile products amounted to 40 per cent. This particular grouping did not include asbestos used in the manufacture of such nonmilitary products as asbestoscement products. The textile products included all friction materials and other engineered products. The non textile products were primarily those involving Navy insulating equipment.
In reviewing the use of asbestos in the United States for products other than asbestos-cements, the United States War Production Board determined that 63 per cent of the asbestos used was employed in the fabrication of insulating materials, 32 per cent was used for mechanical and electrical applications and 5 per cent was for general usage.
Canada's asbestos ore reserves are estimated at 47 million tons, based on a mine life of 50 to 75 years. This figure includes a minimum of 20 years of open pit operations. It is difficult to estimate total amount of asbestos fiber reserves, inasmuch as mine owners consider the information to be confidential. In addition, new asbestos ore deposits are being discovered. These not only increase the present supply but also the reserves.
Based on the afore-mentioned figure, and a recent United States Department of Commerce review on this subject, the conclusion is that there will continue to be an ample supply of asbestos fibers. The basic problem will probably be how to take advantage of available fibers.
The Western Hemisphere is self sufficient in chrysotile, but research is definitely needed to develop substitutes and synthetics for the strategic and limited availability of amosite and crocidolite. Chrysotile is the most important fiber; fortunately, it is the most abundant.
Asbestos, Its Industrial Applications - Rosato: Text& Chapter Index 
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