publication . Article . 2015

The International Mercury Cartel, 1928-1954: Controlling Global Supply

Miguel Angel López-Morell; Luciano Segreto;
Open Access English
  • Published: 08 Jul 2015
  • Country: Italy
<jats:p>This article describes the features of the international mercury market during the first half of the twentieth century. It analyzes the various market agreements made, their effectiveness, and their consequences. The period studied is little understood, although it was one in which mercury production greatly increased. It was also one that saw persistent efforts at market manipulation, owing to a series of agreements between Spanish and Italian producers that proved very effective until the arrival of shipments of mercury produced by Soviet bloc members and by some developing countries.</jats:p>
Persistent Identifiers
free text keywords: Cartel, mercury, Italy, Spain, Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous), Business and International Management, History, Mercury (element), chemistry.chemical_element, chemistry, Market manipulation, Cartel, Business, International trade, business.industry, Developing country
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56 references, page 1 of 4

9 Segreto, Monte Amiata, 58-62, 47, 221; López-Morell, “La comercialización del Mercurio de Almadén,” 325.

10 Julio Zarraluqui, Los Almadénes de azogue (Madrid, 1934), 748-49; Report of the meeting of 19 Apr. 1920, and N. M. Rothschild & Sons to Alfredo Bauer (Madrid), 15 July 1921, both at XI-111-151, Rothschild Archives, London.

11 Meeting of 30 Aug. 1941, R-15/527, Mercurio Europeo (hereafter, ME), Grupo Español, vol. 6, Fundación Almadén Archives, Almadén (hereafter, AFA).

12 J. L. García Ruiz, “El Banco Español de Crédito, 1902-2002: Un siglo de servicio a la economía Española” (unpublished document, 2002). The Banca Commerciale Italiana, the main shareholder in Monte Amiata, would take a share. See Segreto, Monte Amiata, 86.

13 Javier Puigarnau, “Las minas de Almadén,” in Revista nacional de Economia (1925).

14 Zarraluqui, Los Almadénes de azogue, 800. According to some sources, Spanish mines sold only 46,000 flasks in 1926.

15 “Visita a las minas de azogue de Italia,” 12 Nov. 1921, b. 2 file 2752, Sociedad Minas Almadén, Archivo Historico Nacional, Madrid (hereafter, SMA, AHN); documents dated 12 Mar. 1922 and 3 Feb. 1923, Serie Rossa, 520, Archivio Storico IRI, Archivio centrale dello Stato, Rome (hereafter, ASIRI, ACS).

16 Minutes of the Monte Amiata board of directors (hereafter, MA minutes), 14 Jan. 1928 and 3 Feb. 1928, General Legal Affairs Department, Archives Finmeccanica, Rome (hereafter, AF). In 1974, Monte Amiata mining activities were concentrated in a new state-owned company controlling all the mercury mines of the Amiata region. Finmeccanica, the Italian state holding for the mechanical and defense sector, acquired its real estate and financial assets, formally acquiring Monte Amita, when the company had already transferred its mines to the state; “Venta del mercurio de las minas de Almadén,” 1 Feb. 1930, b. 2, file 3080, SMA, AHN.

17 Meeting of 29 Sept. 1928, ME managing committee minutes, vol. 1, R-15/513, AFA.

18 The Italian share was distributed as follows: Monte Amiata 51.03 percent; Idria 25.67 percent; Siele 23.3 percent.

22 There was a proposal for a reduction of 5 shillings to exceptional customers, on condition that they did not make this public.

23 Meeting of 7 Oct. 1929, ME managing committee minutes, vol. 1, R-15/513, AFA; meeting of 12 May 1931, ME managing committee minutes, vol. 2, R-15/514, AFA.

24 ME, report on the year 1930, Serie Rossa, b. 520, ASIRI, ACS.

25 Riccardo Salvadori to J. Toeplitz, CEO of Banca Commerciale, 28 June 1930, Serie Rossa, b. 520, ASIRI, ACS.

26 Meeting of 20 Oct. 1930, ME managing committee minutes, vol. 1, R-15/513, AFA; ME, report on year 1930, Serie Rossa, b. 520, ASIRI, ACS. In particular, the large American market fell spectacularly in 1930: only 1,200 flasks sold, compared to 11,356 in 1929.

56 references, page 1 of 4
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