Distribution of Raw Materials


    AN important aspect of the problem of access to raw materials is the consideration of their position with regard to export. This, among other bearings of the question, is discussed by Prof. I. Hogbom, in the report of the League of Nations Committee for the Study of the Problem of Raw Materials (Geneva: League of Nations. London: G. Alien and Unwin, Ltd., 1937. 2s.). Prof. Högbom points out that for certain minerals, the bulk of which is great in comparison to their value, anything more than a relatively short distance from the sea is an almost insuperable bar to exploitation. The same is true of the cheaper and bulkier vegetable products. Thus for many forms of raw material the potential production of the great colonial areas of the interior of Africa and of certain sovereign States is not commercially accessible. Transport cost and not occurrence is the decisive factor in availability. Thus coal and iron ore, if mining for local ore is left out of account, can be economically produced only in Europe, North America, certain parts of the Far East and elsewhere only in a coastal strip some sixty miles in width. The same applies to phosphates. Mineral oil is profitably exportable within about a hundred and fifty miles from the coast. More valuable ores such as tin, copper, manganese and chromium ores can be mined over a much wider area. Prof. Högbom has illustrated these conclusions in a map incorporated in the report.

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    Distribution of Raw Materials. Nature 140, 801 (1937). https://doi.org/10.1038/140801b0

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