Japanese mining and energy resources (World War II)

Mining in Japan is minimal because Japan possesses very few mining resources. Japanese mining was a rapidly declining industry in the 1980s. Domestic coal production shrank from a peak of 55 million tons in 1960 to slightly more than 16 million tons in 1985, while coal imports grew to nearly 91 million tons in 1987. Domestic coal mining companies faced cheap coal imports and high production costs, which caused them chronic deficits in the 1980s. In the late 1980s, Japan's approximately 1 million tons of coal reserves were mostly hard coal used for coking. Most of the coal Japan consumed is used to produce electric power.

Oil wells have been drilled off the west coast of Honshū and Japan has oil concessions in North Sakhalin. Iron is scarce outside of Hokkaidō and northwest Honshū, and iron pyrite has been discovered in Honshū, Shikoku and Karafuto. A modest quantity of copper and gold is mined around Honshū, Hokkaidō and Karafuto.

Japanese coal is found at the extreme ends of the country, in Hokkaidō and Kyūshū, which have, respectively, 45 and 40 percent of the country's coal deposits. Kyūshū's coal is generally of poor quality and hard to extract, but the proximity of the Kyūshū mines to ports facilitates transportation. In Hokkaido, the coal seams are wider and can be worked mechanically, and the quality of the coal is good. Unfortunately, these mines are located well inland, making transportation difficult. In most Japanese coal mines, inclined galleries, which extended in some places to 9.71 kilometers underground, were used instead of pits. This arrangement is costly, despite the installation of moving platforms. The result is that a miner's daily output is far less than in Western Europe and the United States and domestic coal costs far more than imported coal.

As the coal mining industry declined, so did the general importance of domestic mining to the whole economy. Only 0.2% of the labor force was engaged in mining operations in 1988, and the value added from mining was about 0.3% of the total for all mining and manufacturing. Domestic mining production supplies an important quantity of some nonmetals: silica sand, pyrophyllite clay, dolomite, and limestone. Domestic mines are contributing declining shares of the country's requirements for some metals: zinc, copper, and gold. Almost all of the ores used in the nation's sophisticated processing industries are imported.

Japanese Mineral Production (1916–1933)

Coal deposits

The Japanese Mining Office, in 1925 referred to coal reserves in the Empire of 8,000 million tonnes, or 2,933 million tonnes (Kyūshū, Miiki & Mitsui deposits), 2,675 or 3,471 million tonnes (Hokkaidō, ones 1,113,600 million from Yubari mine), 1,362 million tonnes (Karafuto, in Kawakami deposits), 614 million tonnes (Honshū), 385 million tonnes (Formosa, in the Kirun area), 81 million tonnes (Korea). Extraction in Japan during 1912 was 20,000,000 tonnes, in 1932 in 30,000,000 tonnes and grew in 1941 to 55,500,000 tonnes and was divided between the following sources, in tonnes: Korea (5,000,000), Formosa (2,500,000) and Karafuto (2,500,000) and additional imports 4,000,000 tonnes from China and Indochina.

Oil sources

In 1925, the local petroleum reserves were estimated at 2,956,000 barrels in Niigata, Akita and Nutsu deposits, additionally at Sakhalin concessions. Japanese Petroleum production was in 1941 2,659,000 barrels — about the daily production in the U.S., and 0.1% of world petroleum production. In Manchukuo, oil wells gave Japan 1,000,000 of additional petroleum tonnes per year. The local oils fields of Akita, Niigata and Nutsu produced 2,659,000 barrels. Additionally, they obtained oil in Formosa (1,000,000) and Soviet Sakhalin (1,000,000) and the Manchu oil distillery process.

Iron deposits

The iron resources were insufficient. Total reserves were 90 M tonnes of their own, 10 M or 50 M in Korea (Kenjiho) and Formosa. Japan imported iron from Tayeh (China), 500,000 tonnes in 1940, from Malacca, Johore and other points, 1,874,000 tonnes, from Philippines 1,236,000 tonnes, India sent 1,000,000 tonnes and 3,000,000 processed iron in bars and Australia sent a similar quantity.

  • Japanese Iron & Steel industrial local centers:

The principal centers of iron processing were in Kuttchan and Muroran (Hokkaidō), Kamaishi (Honshū) and Kenjiho (Korea).

Other mineral deposits

  • Copper: The Japanese production of copper in 1917 was 108,000 tonnes, in 1921 54,000 tonnes, in 1926 63,400 tonnes but this production was augmented to 70,000 tonnes in 1931–1937.
  • Gold & Silver: gold production in Korea was 199,483 troy oz in 1930 rising to 838,709 troy oz. In rivers and mines, other deposits were in Saganoseki (Ōita) Honshū Kuyshu and North Formosa. The total value of gold was 20 M Yen per year. Also Japan imported from overseas. The silver mines were in Kosaki, Kawaga and Hitachi, and others in Hokkaidō (see Konomai gold mine)and Karafuto with Iron Pyrite.

See also


  •  This article incorporates Japan
  • 1 Needs Referencing. The deepest mine in the world is in South Africa and is roughly 3.6 km underground.
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