F. W. Horton
The year 1905 saw a phenomenal rise in the price of platinum and a greatly increased production in the United States. Early in March, 1905, the price of ingot platinum advanced from $19.50 per ounce to $21, surpassing gold in value. On April 1, 1905, the price fell to $20.50, and remained firm at this quotation until February 1, 1906, when it jumped to $25, where it remained until September 1, when it leaped to the unprecedented value of $34. 'Ihe production of platinum in the United States increased from 200 ounces in 1904 to 318 ounces in 1905.
The rise in the price of platinum and its increased production in this country may be ascribed to two causes: the growing demand for the metal and the reduced yield of the Russian placers, which usually furnish about 90 per cent, of the world's supply.
The anxiety felt by the platinum dealers during the Japanest-Russian war has not abated since the settle-ment of international difficulties, but has, rather, increased as Russia's internal dissensions have developed. Even before the uprisings, it is said, the large Russian mines were purposely curtailing their production. This reduction of the output is due to the fact that the entire product for a varying term of years was brought up under contract and at prices that now seem ridiculously low. As the mine owners receive only the fixed price, they do not participate in any gain due to rise in value, and are therefore not desirous of a large production, but are husbanding the limited resources of their mines until such time as they can dispose of their produce to better advantage. Meanwhile the small mines, which, gener-ally speaking, are not hampered by such agreements, are working to their full capacity, to take advantage of the stimulated prices; but their entire output is only a small percentage of what is usually produced. A greatly increased consumption of platinum in the electrical and chemical industries, together with this stringency of supply, accounts for the prevailing high prices.
The exhaustive tests and examinations of black sands commenced early in 1905 in connection with the Lewis & Clark exposition, and still being carried on at Portland, Oregon, by the United States Geological Survey, have done much toward placing platinum mining in this country upon a stable footing and developing it into a permanent and profitable industry. Not only have many discoveries of platinum in new localities been made, but the tests have revealed the fact that there are districts which contain surprising quantities of platinum, and they have also given much valuable data as to the best method of obtaining it.
The promising fields are in the counties of southern Oregon and northern California. Here the metal has been found in commercial quantities. With proper methods a considerable annual output should be obtained.. The platinum metals are usually found in working gold placers, especially where the gravels are derived from peridotites. Many managers of placer mines have been convinced for a long time that it would pay to save the platinum in the gravels, if it could be done by some inexpensive method. The experiments of the United States Geological Survey which were conducted under the supervision of Dr. David T. Day have shown conclusively that 95 to 98 per cent, of the precious metals, both gold and platinum, contained in the sluice box sands can be saved on concentrating tables such as are used in everyday practice; and that in most cases the concentrates thus obtained will represent less than one per cent, of the total weight of sand fed to the table.
It should be noted that the imports of platinum during 1905 were valued at $2,173,263, as against $1,879,155 In 1904, an increase of $294,107. Considering the increased demand for platinum, the gain in importation is slight, but if the high price and scarcity of the metal be taken into account, the wonder is that there was not a large decrease in the quantity imported.-"The Mining World."