May 23, 1918 (13th Parliament, 1st Session)


Robert Francis Green



There appears to be some misconception in the mind of the hon. gentleman as to what is intended to be accomplished by the placing of this bounty upon zinc produced in Canada.

I hold no brief for the smelter company which, so far as I know, is the only one producing refined zinc in Canada and which is located at Trail, BjC., but I hold a brief for the operators and owners of the mines that are producing the ore from which the zinc is manufactured. Until the time of the war no zinc was smelted or refined in Canada. The industry was built up practically at the request of the Munitions Board which found it very difficult to secure a sufficient quantity of zinc for the purpose of making munitions. They, therefore, entered into an arrangement with this particular concern to build, equip and operate an electrolytic zinc plant. At the time that this plant came into operation the Munitions Board were paying, the Acting Minister of Finance informs me, forty cents a pound for zinc. But at that particular time, the Munitions Board, having .made this particular arrangement with the smelter to go into the zinc producing business, also made a contract that what zinc they bought from the smelter they would receive at the price of fifteen cents per pound. That means that while the markets of the world were offering forty cents per pound for this particular kind of zinc, this emelter, under its contract, supplied to the Munitions Board all that it produced at fifteen cents per pound. The ordinary zinc of commerce, or prime spelter, is produced not electrolytically but by what is known as the Belgian or distillation process. That is a very much more economical and cheaper process. At the same time it is a process that takes- very much more time for the metal to pass through the various stages before it gets into the finished state. If we in Canada are going to produce from our natural resources the finished product, then we must keep alive this electrolytic process in Canada until one of two conditions is attained, either that the smelter is able to produce zinc electrolytically as cheaply as it is now produced by the Belgian method or that we supersede this method with the Belgian method. We have in Canada vast quantities of zinc ore. We require the zinc in the finished state. In the past any zinc ore that we had in Canada was shipped to the United States and smelted there. This particular industry has been built up, not by the bounty, because as yet it has received no bounty, but by the fact that this company was able to enter into this contract with the Munitions Board.
I wish to say a word or two in connection with the smelting from the point of
view of the operator in my part of the country. The operator there has been demanding, and in my opinion rightly so, that a duty be placed upon raw ores coming into Canada, because this company has within the last two years imported something in the neighborhood of twenty thousand tons of ores from the American side. The company gives as its reason that those particular ores were wanted for fluxing purposes, and I am not going to say that their statement is not right, but as we have those ores in Canada, our people should be protected sufficiently to compete with those ores which are imported from the other side of the line. There is amongst the operators a strong feeling that, in the past, they have not received fair treatment from the smelter; that the smelting rates have been too high; that the smelter has not taken the ore from them when they had it to sell; that the smelter in the main favours its own mines as against those of the country generally. I do not know how much of this is true, but I have, in season and out of season, pressed upon the Government my view that they should hold an investigation under a commission so that this matter may be thoroughly gone into, and if the smelter, which is in a sense a public utility, is not treating the public rightly. If tms is so, then some -action should be taken to make it do so. On the other hand, the managers of the smelter say to-day that if they do not get the protection afforded them by [DOT] this bounty, they will have to close down their emelter.

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