Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/278

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the year 1899, when the product of our mines amounted to about 2,100 tons.

Tons Per Cent.
Produced in connection with lead ores 750.75 35.75
Produced in connection with copper ores 514.50 24.50
Produced in connection with gold 504.00 24.00
Produced in connection with iron and manganese 173.25 8.25
Produced from straight ores 157.50 7.50

In Mexico, on account of the activity in Parral, Pachuca and Guanajuato, the proportion of silver coming from straight ores is larger, and perhaps the same is true for South America. But in Europe, Asia and Africa practically the entire product of silver comes from the distinctively lead and copper mines, so that for the entire world the proportions quoted in the above table would be about correct.

The demand for the metal is growing and may be expected to increase markedly in the near future. The largest consumers now, as in the past, are the three great backward races of the far east, the Hindus the Malays and the Chinese. It takes from 2,500 to 3,000 tons every year at present to maintain trade with them, and but one, the people of Hindustan and Farther India, may be said to have been more than wakened from their sleep of centuries. These number about three hundred millions of frugal, industrious and acquisative people. When the four hundred million of Chinamen are thoroughly aroused, and the one hundred million of mixed races that include the Filipinos and the inhabitants of the East Indian Islands, there will come at least as large a call for the metal as that which now exists. For silver is the only money that the orient recognizes, or can use. The capacity of that part of the world for absorbing it has always been the wonder of economists, to whom Asia is known as "the sink of silver" Statistics show that an average of not less than 600 tons of the metal has been sent to the east by Europe annually during the last 300 years. Practically none of it has ever come back. Among the thousand million Asiatics it has disappeared as hoards of coin, or bars, or as ornaments, or is afloat as money. This curious process is in progress to-day with nearly fivefold the vigor of the past. Practically seventy per cent, of all the silver produced in Europe and America since the dawn of history is now in the possession of the Chinese, Japanese, Malays and Hindus. Yet we regard them as a poverty-stricken people, which in fact they are, for with all this immense hoard of what was once the paramount money metal of the world, famine or pestilence is abroad nearly every year in one or more parts of the orient. This vast metallic accumulation will not save them when crops fail and starvation is at hand, for the west, having demonetized silver will not accept it in exchange for food except on the basis of a pure commodity.