The Mineral Wealth of Germany


THE above comments of “Politicus” are marred by two notable fallacies. In the first place, he holds that my valuation of the minerals is based upon the profit to be derived from mining them. This is quite wrong; my valuation of the coal, etc., in situ is based upon the only true criterion of value, namely, the price which it will fetch in the ordinary open market, the sum which those who wish to mine the coal are prepared to pay for that coal in its unsevered condition, i.e. in this country the average royalty which the coalowner can get for it. The profit which those who mine it can make out of it has nothing whatever to do with the valuation, except indirectly, in the sense that coal which cannot be mined at a profit is unsaleable, and therefore has no value. The other fallacy is, perhaps, best shown by pointing out that, according to “Politicus,” the unsevered coal in the bowels of the earth is worth as much as the same coal at bank, so that in his view the nation gets the labour and materials expended on raising the coal for nothing! It is surely obvious that if coal at bank, after 9s. 6d. per ton has been spent upon getting it, is worth 10s. per ton, it cannot be worth 10s. before anything has been spent upon it, and that this is equally true whether such expenditure be looked upon as national or as individual.

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LOUIS, H. The Mineral Wealth of Germany. Nature 101, 385–386 (1918).

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