Province of Nova Scotia,
FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31ST DECEMBER, 1872,
--BY HENRY S. POOLE, ESQ., Z. G. S,;
HALIFAX, N.S., February 15th, 1873.
SIR,--I have the honor to transmit, as Inspector of Mines, to which position I was appointed in August last, the accompanying report on the mines of the Province for the past year; and do so with more pleasure at a time, which promises to be the beginning of a new era in the history of the coal trade.
The mining record for the last six years tells of one unbroken series of efforts, on the part of the mine owners to contend against low prices and an irregular demand consequent upon the close competition which has hitherto existed for the trade of a limited market.
On looking over the yearly reports from the Directors of the different Corporations, it may be seen that during that period not a single Concern has paid a fair dividend on the capital expended. While many have merely paid working expenses, some have been even worked at a considerable loss. The endeavor having been either to force a trade, or to keep the mines open, until the better times, yearly expected, would come.
The increased demand has come, but not altogether from the quarter expected. Ever since the trade languished, on the abrogation of the reciprocity treaty with the United States, the opera-tors have looked for a reduction of the heavy duty, which was then imposed on all bituminous coal imported into that country, as the means of restoring to them a profitable market for their coal. To some extent their hopes from this source have been realized. The United States' new tariff bill, which came into force August 1st, 1872, declares that the duty shall be :--
"On all bituminous coal and shale, seventy-five cents per ton of twenty-eight bushels, 80 lbs. to the bushel."
Yet, the quantity shipped during the year to the United States, has not been as much as might have been expected from a review of the increase that has yearly taken place, notwithstanding the late prohibitory duty.
The unlimited market, which has been so unexpectedly opened to Nova Scotia, is in a great measure due to the state of the trade in Great Britain. While the British exports for the year 1872 have risen from 12,747,989 tons to 13,211,961 tons or by 4 per cent.; their value has increased from £6,246,133 to £10,433,920 or by more than 66 per cent. This rise in value has permitted our shippers to compete in markets on this continent from which, by low prices, they were hitherto excluded, and it has shewn that the prosperity of our trade is not altogether dependent, as was generally supposed, on, the markets of the Republic.
Yet while it is satisfactory to know this, it should not be forgotten, that this country, is as much interested in the total withdrawal of the American import duty, as are the citizens of New England, and that we look to them for our principal market, as much as they naturally do to us, for their supply of bituminous coal,
When speculating on the probable trade of the coming season it is well to bear in mind, that, with the increased demand in the Autumn came an increase in the rates of freight; and the profits that otherwise might reasonably have been expected to accrue to the coal owners, were absorbed in the maintenance of the shipping, that for weeks lay idly waiting their turn at the coal ports. The output from the mines falling far short of the demand, labor consequently was at a premium and wages rose 20 to 25 per cent. above the rates of the year before. In all probability, a further advance will be asked for next summer, when competition bidding for all the available labor prices may be forced to a height that will make mining no more profitable than it has been heretofore.
Wages are now such, at some of the mines, that steady men have earned over $80 per month for three months in succession; and all that they can reasonably ask, besides, is to have constant work the whole year through; the present rate of wages being the maximum that the prosperity of the trade can afford, to pay. Anticipations are entertained that the business of next year will double that of the present, but there is really no ground on which such a calculation can be possibly based. The utmost capability of all the mines working under the most favorable circumstances is, I believe, not in excess of 1,100,000 tons; unless indeed a large importation of skilled labor can be speedily effected.
GENERAL SUMMARY OF THE RETURNS OF THE MINERAL PRODUCE OF NOVA SCOTIA, RECEIVED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF MINES FOR 1872.:
|30||Gold (17,173 tons quartz)||oz.||15,079||278,961|
COAL Sold in the Province during the year Ended December 31st 1872.
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Last Modified: 99-05-20
Originally Printed by: The Citizen Publishing Company
The information contained on this site is not provided for the purpose of factual
representation. Instead, it is provided in an historical context. Every effort has
been made to ensure that this information represents the actual content
of the published Nova Scotia Department of Mines annual reports.
Nevertheless, no warranties are provided in any respect.
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