Production figures for selected nonferrous metals-aluminum (including bauxite and alumina), copper, lead, tin, titanium, and zinc-by the United States, as well as other statistics for these commodities, show strong volatility during 20th century. Major shifts were driven by the Great Depression and the two World Wars, but other major temporal changes are also noted that are not directly related to such global crises. For example, the price of tin exhibited a strong maximum in the 1980's, which is unrelated to world production, but rather to failed efforts of the International Tin Council to control price. In the case of copper, U.S. exports have varied throughout the second half of the century, by more than a factor of 5. Such volatility might be explained in part by global economic conditions, at least throughout recent decades. Supporting the interpretation of the importance of foreign pressure on the domestic commodities market is a close correlation between domestic consumption of antimony and its elevated price in the mid 1980's,possibly pushed up mostly by the world dominance in production of this commodity by China. However, only very superficial explanations can be advanced for such relations before we have examined, in concert, information for a much larger suite of commodities.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Historical trends in U.S. mineral statistics for selected non-ferrous metals
U.S. Geological Survey
Geology, Minerals, Energy and Geophysics Science Center