21 NOVEMBER 1925, Page 17

A WAY OUT FOR THE MINES [To the Editor of

the SPECTATOR.] Sta,—I have read with great interest the very valuable article, "A Way Out for the Mines," in your issue of November 7th. I enclose copies of letters that we have written to the Chairman and other members of the Coal Commission dealing with the problem, which, as you say, is of such national im- portance. I also enclose a copy of a pamphlet recently written by Mr. F. W. Swann, who wrote the famous articles in the Times, in 1907, on " Smokeless Cities." This was at the early introduction of the Low Temperature Carbonization of coal or " Coalite " process. Mr. Swann has followed up our developments in every detail.

You rightly say that "No imagination is needed to grasp what a revolution in our natural life-the perfecting of such an inventiotto.ould mean. . . . Naturally, the public is extremely anxious to know the truth-about coal carbonization. We are often told by the manufacturers of carbonization plant that the process is an accomplished. fact. Leaders of the miners, like Mr. Hodges, sometimes assert that it is only the obscurantism and obstruction of individual coalowners which prevent the large-scale adoption of pithead carbonization. . . . Amid this clamour of the interested parties, it is re- freshing to turn to the official, and impartial, Report of the Fuel Research Board, which is interested in neither the com- mercial nor political aspect of the question, but is wholly con- cerned with ascertained fact."

I should like to add with regard to this latter reference, that it is unfortunate for the country that, when the Fuel

Research Board made such a highly satisfactory technical report on the Low Temperature Carbonization process as prac- tised at Barnsley by this Company, some Government accountants were not instructed to report upon the commercial value.

Here is this Company with its predecessors, who are the un- disputed pioneers of the Low Temperature Carbonization of coal, and have expended considerably over a million of money in treating in a commercial way over 300,000 tons of coal from all the leading coalfields of this country, the Colonies, and foreign countries, with the result that they have produced over 5,000,000 gallons of the finest crude oil that has ever been produced. The price they have realized for the Smoke- less Fuel has always been much in excess of the price of best domestic coal, and also the fuel oil in the open market has always realized a much higher price than the hest petroleum imported into this country. For instance, the last 1,000 tons sold from our works at Barnsley realized 82s. 11d. per ton.. Offers before us at the present moment, for the whole of our next year's supply at Barnsley, amounting to some 7,000 tons, are at £5 8s. ad. per ton, as against the price of crude petro- leum, which at the present time is about 75s.

I entirely agree with you when you state : " At all events, • it is sincerely to be hoped that the ('oaf Commission is taking the fullest cognizance of the latest developments in low- temperature carbonization. The net impression that one gathers from the Report is that the process is tech- nically established to a high degree of certainty."---I am,