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Americanisation in 20th Century Europe: business, culture, politics. Volume 2

 | 
Nick Tiratsoo
, 
Mathias Kipping

Harnessing Americanisation: the case of the Zellidja Mining Company

Samir Saul

Résumé

La Société des mines de Zellidja est fondée en 1929 en vue d’extraire du minerai de plomb à Bou Beker au Maroc. Après 1945, elle entreprend un programme d’exploration et de mécanisation de sa production. Le savoir-faire technique et l’équipement lui faisant défaut, elle s’associe à deux firmes étatsuniennes en mesure de les lui fournir
S’ensuivent des visites d’ingénieurs américains à Bou Beker et de cadres de Zellidja aux États-Unis. Zellidja devient le deuxième producteur de minerai de plomb du monde. Cependant l’appropriation des méthodes américaines ne signifie pas qu’elle s’américanise. Cette étude se propose d’expliquer pourquoi il en est ainsi.

Texte intégral

  • 1 This paper is based mainly on the previously unused Zellidja company archives kept in Casablanca an (...)

1The Société des Mines de Zellidja was founded in 1929 to extract lead ore at Bou Beker, in the north of the French protectorate of Morocco.1 Although it had concessions and exploration permits covering territory presumed to contain important deposits, the company led an undistinguished life as a family concern until the Second World War. After the war, it decided to undertake exploration and expand output but had to seek the technical know-how and equipment to carry out such a programme.

2To that end, it enlisted the assistance of two US mining companies. Engineers visited Bou Beker to evaluate needs and make recommendations for the mechanisation of extraction. In turn, Zellidja officiais went on missions to view procedures at various mines in the US. Zellidja was a beneficiary of the Marshall Plan; the Economic Co-operation Administration (ECA) granted it loans repayable in kind. American interest in Zellidja was part of the US endeavour to acquire and stockpile strategic reserves of raw materials in the context of the Cold War. American involvement in a mining company in one of France’s premier imperial possessions, one whose independence the US was suspected of favouring, could not go unnoticed. On the other hand, France was intent on developing North Africa both as a way of consolidating its control and providing itself with strategic depth should war break out in Europe.

3Zellidja’s production was spurred by mechanisation. Lead reserves proved to be three times previous estimates and zinc was discovered. Past 1951, Zellidja accounted for over half of lead and three fifths of zinc production in the French Union. What was until then a modest mining business, mainly national in scope, became the world’s second producer of lead ore. It ranked as a major force in Morocco and provided a famous instance of Franco-American co-operation.

4Yet, alongside the successful assimilation of American techniques, there does not appear to have been much more in the way of Americanisation. The presence of the two US firms on the board of directors did not imply control. Applied to a mining concern, the definition of Americanisation may encompass the systematic application of technology to production, the emphasis on growth and the presence of a managerial team distinct from ownership. Although these features are prominent in the US and have come to be associated with it, they are not essentially or exclusively American and their adoption does not per se imply Americanisation. The latter must involve a process of conscious borrowing. This paper will address the issue of Americanisation at Zellidja, such as it was, by placing it in the context of the history of the company. Only by taking into account the direction that the company was already taking can selective borrowing from American models be understood.

beginnings

  • 2 R. H. Ramsey, Men and Mines of Newmont. A fifty-year History, New York, Octagon Books, 1973, p. 119

5At first, Bou Beker was no more than a pit 45 km south-east of Oujda in which lead ore (galena) had been mined sporadically and on a small scale since the Sixteenth Century. In 1925, Jean Walter (1883-1957), an architect by profession, acquired a permit around the pit, in part payment for work he had done.2 Prospecting by Zellidja, the company he founded, yielded positive results and extraction began.

6Lead is processed in several steps. First, ore is ground and sent to a washery, a tank where flotation takes place. Lead particles are then concentrated and roasted or sintered to remove sulphur. The next step, smelting, recovers metal from ore concentrates; it is carried out generally in a blast furnace equipped with a water jacket and a crucible to collect molten lead. Impurities are then removed from the lead bullion (‘plomb d’œuvre’) by heating in a large drossing container. Finally large blocks of lead metal are sent to the refinery for further purification, especially for the recovery of silver; refining yields pure pig lead.

  • 3 General meeting (GM) of shareholders, December 26, 1939; Société des Mines de Zellidja, À la Recher (...)

7Zellidja’s mining method was room and pillar. Its washeries were rudimentary installations, limited to the first stage of production. Power for the first washery came from the engine of a truck. Concentrates were transported to Oujda, and then on to the port of Oran in Algeria for export. While production increased, the price of lead collapsed from a high of £42 per ton in the mid-1920’s to a low of £103, leading to closure of the mine in 1931. During the period of inactivity, infrastructure was improved. Railway freight rates to Casablanca being prohibitive, another outlet had to be found. State authorities laid a line to within 17 km of Bou Beker; it terminated at the nearby Algerian port of Nemours (present-day Ghazaouet) which was made ready for shipping output to France. Housing was built for personnel and sources of much-needed water found in Algeria.

  • 4 GM, 6 April 1940.

8When the price of lead rose to £23 per ton in 1936, the mine was reopened and a new washery installed. Concentration was by flotation (‘sink and float’). Lead ore from Zellidja and the neighbouring but smaller mine of Touissit, owned by the Compagnie Royale Asturienne des Mines, was trucked to the train station at Oued el Heimer, then transported by rail to the port of Nemours. From 15 tons in 1925, the volume of concentrates reached 1,313 tons in 1930, 3,177 tons in 1937, 7,143 tons in 1938 and 12,036 tons in 1939.4 The target for 1940 was 15, 000 tons. In 1939, Zellidja was already the second lead mining concern in the French Empire; 38 per cent of the lead extracted in the Empire came from Bou Beker.

  • 5 Ibid., and 26 December 1939.
  • 6 SMZ 1949.
  • 7 GM, 14 June 1941 and 8 June 1942. Charles Eugène Bedaux (1886-1944) devised a System of payment-by- (...)

9The outbreak of war did not slow growth in the short term although part of the workforce was mobilised. On 26 December 1939, shareholders doubled the company’s capital from F10 to F20 million by incorporating reserves. In 1940, Zellidja ordered equipment to produce 25,000 tons.5 Estimates of known reserves of ore in the 40-hectare perimeter had increased from 20,000 to 100,000 tons between 1936 and 1940.6 More efficient organisation of work partly compensated for loss of manpower when the Bedaux System was adopted.7

10Despite encouraging early results, the effects of war were soon felt. After the armistice, orders of spare parts and raw materials could no longer be placed in the UK or the US Purchases had to be made, with much difficulty, in occupied and Vichy France. As French smelters ground to a halt and imports fell, so did the price of Zellidja’s lead and the level of its production. Rare supplies and precious equipment had to be used sparingly; the washery stopped functioning for one year. For the second time in its history, the company lost its momentum due to events it did not control.

11The reopening of France’s main smelter at Noyelles-Godault (Pas-de-Calais) brought about the resumption of shipments in September 1941. However, electric power remained a serious problem. During the war, makeshift equipment, acquired in France, was assembled at Bou Beker to build gas-driven generators. Production of concentrates in 1940 was about the same as in 1939. It fell to 6,763 tons in 1941 and remained at about that level until the end of the war.

  • 8 Report to GM, 8 June 1942 (typed first draft), Zellidja Archives, Casablanca [hereafter ZAC]. No re (...)
  • 9 Jean Walter to Gabriel Puaux, Resident General of the Protectorate, 19 January 1945, and note of 9 (...)

12Zellidja was keen to return to the 1940 programme, the more so that further exploration revealed new reserves estimated at 400,000 tons of metal.8 In 1942, Zellidja extended its prospecting to nearby Algeria and acquired zinc mines at El Abed-Aïn Arko. The Société des Mines d’Aïn-Arko, 100 per cent-owned by Zellidja, was created in November 1942. By 1945, Zellidja was capable of producing 24,000 tons of marketable concentrates with a 70-75 per cent lead content out of ore containing lead in the proportion of 5-8 per cent.9

13As it did for electricity, the company sought greater autonomy in the processing of ore. By building a smelter, it would also get better return for its freight costs by exporting lead rather than ore, escape fluctuations of the price of ore and have metal available in France for manufacturing finished goods such as pipes, sheet lead or insecticides. However, in June 1942, Zellidja associated with Penarroya, the leading lead producer in the world, to jointly build a smelter at Oued el Heimer, near the rail line to Nemours. It was located close to the Djerada mine whose anthracite would stoke the furnaces. Owned half-half by its two founders, headquartered in Bou Beker, the Société des Fonderies de Peñarroya-Zellidja (P-Z) was created in January 1944 with a capital of F10 million. Construction of the plant began in November 1944; the first furnace was lit on 11 November 1947.

american partners

  • 10 SMZ 1949; Colonel Spillmann, General Secretary of the Comité de l’Afrique du Nord, to Minister of F (...)

14Zellidja and American interests were drawn together by different but convergent needs and motivations. There was considerable anxiety at the end of the war concerning reserves of lead in the world. The landing in North Africa and subsequent events made US authorities more aware of Morocco’s and Bou Beker’s potential. An engineer visited the site on their behalf in the summer of 1944 when Zellidja sought to obtain supplies by way of Lend-Lease. Pressed by Secretary of State Stettinius10, the North African Joint Economic Mission, an Allied body in Algiers, agreed in 1945 to Zellidja’s programme of expanding production. Equipment worth $210,000 (F25 m) went mainly to setting up a new washery.

15At the beginning of the Cold War, the same concerns about lead reserves were felt in the US For their part, companies in occupied countries or overseas dependencies, starved of equipment, supplies and raw materials during the war, were eager to import in order to restart operations, insure maintenance or reach full capacity. In the immediate aftermath of the war, the only available exporter was the US. Protectorate authorities in Morocco were favourable to imports intended to increase production; licenses to import were issued liberally. A major obstacle, however, was lack of dollars to pay for purchases. Payment in kind could not be envisaged immediately, as France’s reconstruction needs were great enough to provide grounds for official disapproval. Protectorate authorities had instructions from the French government to reserve Moroccan lead production for France’s requirements.

16Zellidja’s object was mechanisation. It wished to embark upon the expansion it had to forego during the war and take advantage of the high demand created by reconstruction and fear of limited reserves. Moreover, wage raises were legislated in France and Morocco after the war. While production costs exceeded revenues from sales, the price of French and Moroccan lead was higher than world quotations. To offset the trend, Zellidja had to lower unit costs and increase output. Cost-push necessity thus combined with market opportunity to point to further mechanisation.

  • 11 Hoover’s Handbook of American Business 1997, Hoover’s Business Press, Austin, Texas; Standard & Poo (...)

17In response to overtures from US mining firms, Jean Walter went to the US to establish contacts. He settled on the St Joseph Lead Company and the Newmont Mining Company. Primarily a gold digging concern, the latter was founded in 1916. It became interested in copper and invested in South Africa and South America during the 1940’s and 1950’s. Newmont’s entry in Morocco in the 1940’s was part of its diversification to metals other than gold. In the 1960’s, it emphasised investment in US mining companies. The 1990’s saw Newmont focus on gold and foreign subsidiaries.11 In 2001, it became the world’s leading gold producer.

  • 12 31.85 per cent to Newmont, 17.15 per cent to St Joseph. Agreement between ECA, DPMA and MSA, 30 Nov (...)
  • 13 Including diamond drills capable of penetrating 600 metres underground.
  • 14 Walter to Bernard de Margerie, Ministry of Finance (France), 26 November 1947, ZABB; GM, 19 July 19 (...)

18In the agreement signed on 1 November 1946 between Zellidja, Newmont and St Joseph, a way was found to skirt the dollar problem. No dollars were to be expended by the French side. Equipment and training to mechanise the mine, expand the washery and improve drilling would be made available by the American companies in exchange for participation in equity. The 16 sq. km concession was divided in two parts. Zellidja retained Bou Beker and the area surrounding it within a radius of 6 km. Stockholders yielded 9.84 per cent of capital. Expected annual production at Zellidja was 45,000 tons of concentrates, or 35,000 tons of lead, about half France’s needs. Beyond that perimeter, Zellidja possessed permits to zones it had not or could not explore. It turned them over to a company created specifically for that purpose and headquartered in Oued el Heimer, the Société Nord-Africaine du Plomb (NAP), keeping 51 per cent of the F75 million equity. Newmont and St Joseph received 49 per cent12 and brought to NAP drilling equipment13 and experts. The U. S companies were to bear 75 per cent of expenses incurred; spending by Zellidja would be done in France in French francs. Of the newly found ore, the first 25 million tons would be turned over to Zellidja; anything above belonged to NAP. Zellidja obtained a seat on the board of Newmont and St Joseph, and 4,000 of their shares, while Fred Searls Jr. and Andrew Fletcher, respectively chairmen of Newmont and St Joseph, were named to Zellidja’s board. French and American authorities gave their sanction.14 The delicate issue of lead exports to the US had not been broached. It was understood that the Americans would be entitled to purchase from newly discovered ore, but only in an indeterminate future.

  • 15 -Jean Walter to Labonne, Resident General, 13 January 1947, ZABB.
  • 16 Harlan to Fred Searls Jr., Chairman of Newmont, 8 January 1947, ZABB.
  • 17 Jean or Jacques Walter to Jacques Lucius, General Secretary of the Protectorate, 20 December 1946, (...)

19Orders for equipment on Zellidja’s behalf were approved by the Protectorate authorities in December 1946. First shipments arrived in Casablanca on 1 January 1947.15 Two Newmont engineers visited the mine at Bou Beker from 12 December 1946 to 14 January 1947. Jack D. Harlan’s report found it well suited to mechanisation. Previous core drilling from the surface over the years indicated extensive deposits of exploitable lead ore. They were sufficient to justify improved mining and milling (flotation) methods; machinery and facilities had to be adequate for the task. The flotation plant handled 240 tons daily; the immediate target, 1,000 tons, was impossible to reach without a change in methods. Some 675 Moroccans and 80 Europeans composed the workforce, but labour shortages made even 240 tons difficult to produce.16 Harlan thought it important that new methods and equipment be employed only to the extent that they might be smoothly absorbed and prove beneficial. Zellidja intended to mechanise step by step, so that employees did not feel the changes.17

  • 18 Harlan to Emile Trystram, manager of Zellidja mines, 14 February 1947, ZABB.
  • 19 Harlan to Trystram, 25 February 1947, ZABB.
  • 20 Mining and Metallurgy, June 1947.

20Newmont gathered the information required for mechanisation of the Moroccan concessions, located material and equipment, and directed it to Bou Beker.18 Securing machinery quickly was not easy as post-war demand ran high.19 The search produced drillers, compressors, boring hammers, scrapers and trolleys for the mine, as well as material for the flotation mill and spare parts. American geologists, mechanical engineers and drillers were on the spot in January 1947 to train Zellidja personnel in the new techniques. A new sink-float milling plant with a capacity of 4,000 tons was to be added to the 1000-ton facility.20

  • 21 Trystram to Harlan, 15 December 1948, ZABB.
  • 22 C. Kremer Bain, St Joseph’s shaft-sinking specialist, to Jacques Walter, 31 May 1951, ZABB.

21From 1948, American consultants were attached to Zellidja and NAP.21 Flying in technicians from the US made expertise quickly available in case of need. Greater emphasis was placed on scientific competence of management in both companies. Young engineers had top roles in operations; tasks and personnel were more closely supervised.22 Missions to the US and Morocco were frequent. Along with more efficient equipment intended to increase volume of production, improvements in the technical level of the staff were the main results of American participation.

  • 23 Jacques Claveau, “Proposed Surface Exploration Drilling Program”, 20 February 1958, ZAC.
  • 24 Study by J. Ségaud, 15 November 1948, ZAC; SMZ 1949.

22Mechanisation and partnership with American companies did not transform basic techniques of producing lead, but they hastened the discovery of reserves, allowed for large-scale mining and improved output of concentrates. A major campaign of surface drilling began. Between 1949 and 1952, some 400 holes were drilled totalling 48,000 metres.23 In 1946, known reserves were set at 700,000 tons of unprocessed metal. In 1948, they were estimated at 1.8 million tons, from 30 million tons of ore. The figure in 1949 was 2 million tons.24

  • 25 Jean Walter to Resident General, 29 November 1948; same to Chief Engineer of Mines Department (Alge (...)

23Volume of ore treated at the float mill was stepped up gradually from 240 to 1,000 tons per day in 1948. It was scheduled to rise to 5,500 tons per day in 1953, by which time annual production of concentrates would reach 70,000 tons, nearly 90 per cent of the needs of the French Union.25

zellidja and the marshall plan

  • 26 Summary of the meeting by Zellidja delegate, ZABB.

24A year elapsed between George Marshall’s speech on 5 June 1947 and France’s entry into the European Recovery Program (ERP) in July 1948. While it lent dollars to recipient countries, ECA also set about getting quick access to their strategic raw materials for stockpiling. Evan Just, head of the ECA’s strategic materials division, went to Europe in the summer of 1948 in search of minerals to purchase. On 1 September 1948, he met French government officials and mining company representatives in Paris to discuss manganese, cobalt and lead production.26 The unstated quid pro quo was awkward to refuse for Europe’s assisted countries; it was made more palatable by the US’s readiness to pay in dollars. France’s official reticence to see much-needed resources leave French-controlled territory dissipated.

25Morocco was one of the French possessions to attract ECA attention. Zellidja’s post-war course of action was to mechanise in order to increase production. It became an associate of US firms with the object of obtaining the equipment and technical support that it could not pay for in the dollars it was prevented from earning due to official opposition to exports. By 1948, official policy had changed. To increase mining output and, to that end, acquire new equipment, the requisite dollars could come from exports to the dollar area. Morocco’s share in the Marshall Plan, it was surmised, would be too small.

  • 27 Note, 27 August 1948, ZABB.
  • 28 Chambre Syndicale des Industries Minières du Maroc to Zellidja, 23 August 1948, ZABB.
  • 29 Note on meeting of 31 August 1948, ZABB.
  • 30 Guillaume Guindey, Ministry of Finance (France), to General Alphonse Juin, Resident General, 23 Sep (...)

26A self-financing plan had to be put into effect. Emphasis would be placed on lead and manganese, minerals with world-class reserves. It was estimated that, in four years, lead production could rise from 48,000 tons to 110,000 tons, and manganese from 200,000 to 360,000 tons. A $2.9 million investment would boost revenue from $18 million in 1948 to $37.6 million in 1952. The mines department of the Protectorate encouraged collaboration along the lines of the Zellidja-Newmont-St Joseph accord.27 In order to furnish export licenses, it sounded out firms in 1948 about their dollar requirements, the quantities of ore they had available for rapid shipment and prospective purchasers. It was insistent, in a hurry and eager to help.28 A meeting with lead company representatives determined the cost of the required equipment to be $2 million, obtainable by selling 8,000 tons of concentrates.29 Economic ministries in Paris gave their approval.30

  • 31 Program, 30 August 1948, ZABB. The 2,000-ton mill was not built.
  • 32 Note on meeting of 16 September 1948, ZABB.

27Zellidja found the offer interesting as a way of acquiring dollars to buy equipment, while saving those received from its American partners. Its programme included completing the mechanisation of the 1000-ton per day mine, equipping its dotation plant with a facility to recover zinc from ore, and starting a 2000-ton per day dotation mill.31 In a meeting held in Oujda, lead companies agreed Zellidja would export 3,600 tons, the Société des Mines d’Aouli 2,050 tons, the Asturienne 2,000 tons and the Société Minière des Gundafa 350 tons.32 Proposals to import concentrates were not slow in coming from several US companies, even as the ECA delegation in Paris tried to have the lead sold to the Federal Bureau of Supply as strategic material.

  • 33 Text and analysis of agreement, Maroc CDRG, No. 117, AE.

28Zellidja’s interlocutors had mainly been private companies. As the Marshall Plan got under way, they were increasingly to be State authorities in Morocco, France and the US Article IV of the bilateral Franco-American Economic Co-operation Accord of 28 June 1948 set aside 5 per cent-about $25 million-of Marshall Plan credits, calculated in counterpart francs, for the American Administration to use as it saw fit. One way was to promote production of strategic materials abroad by purchasing for immediate delivery or lending with reimbursement in kind by forward delivery. ECA sought to lend directly to private firms with the aim of procuring a portion of those materials to the Federal Bureau of Supply. A case in point was the agreement signed on 4 February 1949 with Zellidja’s affiliate, NAP. The latter was to obtain from its shareholders an advance of F55 million (§200,000) to invest in exploration. The ECA would advance to NAP F135 million (§500,000) for the same purpose; the ECA loan, bearing interest at 4 per cent, was repayable in lead discovered by 31 December 1951. If deposits warranted further development, each side would advance §1 million to renew the arrangement.33

  • 34 Foreign Affairs to Juin, 16 March 1949, AE.
  • 35 G. Bossuat, La France, l'Aide Américaine et la Construction Européenne, 1944-1954, Paris, CHEFF, 19 (...)
  • 36 Analysis of agreement, 27 June 1949, Maroc CDRG, No. 117, AE.
  • 37 Jean Lacaze, Director of Zellidja, to Searls, 22 March 1949, ZABB; Bossuat: I, 573.
  • 38 Foreign Affairs to French ambassador in the US, 25 January 1951, M-Maroc 1950-1955, No. 117c, AE.

29The implications of the agreement disturbed the French government. The 28 June 1948 Accord committed it to facilitate the transfer to the US of strategic materials, but recognised its right to sanction specific accords. Authorities in Paris and Rabat were not informed of the ECA-NAP negotiations.34 The French government objected neither to the loan nor to delivery of raw materials to a foreign government agency, but to the interconnection between the two. It was troubled by the precedent the deal would set, one reminiscent of loss of sovereignty of borrowers such as the Ottoman Empire, China and Morocco in the past.35 With the intent of dissociating debt and the handing over of resources, it sought the cancellation of the February accord and its replacement by a loan to NAP from the Crédit National. This semi-public bank, specialising in long-term financing, would adhere largely to the terms of the ECA-NAP contract, using counterpart francs from Marshall funds under French control.36 Transfer of surplus lead to ECA would take the form of purchases. NAP was amenable, the ECA less so.37 Eventually, under ECA pressure, the French authorities backtracked and accepted the terms of the ECANAP contract.38

  • 39 Juin to Foreign Affairs, 28 July 1950, M-Maroc 1950-1955, No. 117c, AE.
  • 40 Juin to Foreign Affairs, 6 December 1950, No. 132a, AE.

30The way was open for new agreements along the same lines. In December 1949, Zellidja borrowed $3.6 million (F2.2 billion) from the ECA, then another Fl.4 billion in August 1950. Both loans were to be repaid over 7 years, the first in lead, and the second in zinc. The Resident General did not find onerous the export of 7.6 per cent of a total output multiplied five or sixfold thanks to the loans.39 In December 1950, Jean Walter returned from the US with a proposal to borrow F3 billion from the ECA at 4 per cent with the intention of lending them to Énergie Électrique du Maroc, the country’s supplier, in return for improvement of the utility’s service.40

  • 41 Foreign Affairs note, 2 January 1951, AE.
  • 42 Foreign Affairs to Resident General, 25 April 1950, DE-CE 856, AE.
  • 43 Table, 1953, M-Maroc 1950-1955, No. 130c, AE; Bossuat: I, 578-611.

31This time, the Quai d’Orsay saw an unfortunate precedent. Since the loan would not directly increase output of ore, repayment meant yielding available resources and accepting francs when dollars could be had by selling on the US market. Moreover, concern was expressed about the extent of the US’s role in Morocco. The image of the Ottoman Empire giving up its resources as collateral for loans returned.41 While missions by the ECA and its successors to North Africa were permitted under the provisions of the June 1948 Accord, their number and the extension of inspections to matters beyond the use of Marshall credits preoccupied the French authorities.42 Nevertheless, Juin was persistent and Foreign Affairs relented in March 1951. Of all companies, the Zellidja group was the main beneficiary of Marshall funds in Morocco-it received $4.2 million out of a total of $17 million, and F5.3 billion out of F8.4 billion-and among the greatest in France’s overseas possessions.43 About 10 per cent of its output was shipped to the US

sequel

  • 44 GM, 24 April 1958.

32Thanks to modern equipment, exploration proceeded at a quick pace. Known reserves of lead nearly tripled. Extensive deposits of zinc were discovered, mainly in neighbouring Algeria. They were sufficient to justify the creation of an affiliate by NAP. Bringing the second part of the February 1949 agreement into play, NAP called on ECA for a financial contribution and founded the Société Algérienne de Zinc (ALZI) in 1951. Stockholders and their share in the F50 million equity were the same as in NAP. Zellidja had its own Algerian zinc subsidiary since 1942. Zinc-its own, ALZI's and Aïn-Arko’s-became an important part of the Zellidja group’s operations. As the quality of lead ore diminished, notwithstanding tonnage extracted, the production of zinc concentrates overtook that of lead concentrates in 1953 (see Table 3). Zinc ore, sulphuric (blende) and oxide (calamine), was taken to the 1000-ton per day Zellidja float mill at Bou Beker to be concentrated into zinc sulphide and zinc oxide. In May 1956, a workshop using the Waelz method of obtaining oxides from lower-grade ore became operational. Two furnaces distilling zinc oxide calcine from calamine were added in 1958. Blende and calamine exported (table below) went mostly to the French plants of the Asturienne and the Société de la Vieille Montagne.44 The other mill, with a daily capacity of 4000 tons, handled lead ore from Bou Beker.

  • 45 Division des Mines (Morocco), État Récapitulatif, 1951,1954, M-Maroc 1950-1955, No. 130c, AE. Zinc (...)

Table 1: Destination of Zinc sold by Zellidja (tons)45

1951

1954

France

22.738

47.986

Belgium

7.347

-

US

4.063

F.R.of Germany

3.762

Total

34.148

51.748

  • 46 Note dated 28 March 1949, ZABB.
  • 47 État Récapitulatif, 1951, M-Maroc 1950-1955, No. 130c, AE.
  • 48 Ibid. ; internal balance sheets, ZABB.
  • 49 Report to GM of Zellidja, 20 June 1952; of P-Z, 22 March 1954; C. Belaidi, “Transformation des Conc (...)
  • 50 Minutes of the meetings of the board of directors, 28 May 1962 and 17 February 1965, ZAC.
  • 51 Rapport sur le Plomb et le Zinc, 18 April 1953, M-Maroc 1950-1955, No. 112a, AE. The third was Paña (...)

33Belgium At Oued el Heimer, the new P-Z smelter processed more and more lead concentrates. Exports from Bou Beker diminished apace. In 1948, of the 13,597 tons produced, 5,982 were sent to the smelter, 7,615 were shipped abroad.46 By 1951, the figures were 38,457, 35,341 and 3,116.47 Subsequently, 85 to 95 per cent of concentrates leaving the dotation plant were sold to P-Z.48 The smelter was equipped with new installations, including 10-foot Newnam furnaces for first fusion. In 1953, a workshop to recover silver from lead concentrates, a water-jacketed furnace designed to melt slag previously sent to foreign smelters and a Dwight-Lloyd binding machine were added.49 Better adapted to high-grade concentrates, Newnam material was severely tested by local ore when quality deteriorated as mining progressed.50 Apart from lead bullion, the smelter produced refined lead, 99 per cent of which was exported, all via Nemours (see Table 2 below). Next to that of Noyelles-Godault (annual capacity: 50,000 tons), Oued el Heimer (36,000 tons) was the most important lead refinery on territory controlled by France.51

  • 52 État Récapitulatif, 1951, 1954, No. 130c, AE.

Table 2: Destination of Refined Lead Sold by Penarroya-Zellidja (tons)52

1951

1954

France

13.554

17.150

US

2.000

6.759

North Africa

726

Rest of Africa

173

Algeria

1.681

Morocco

278

62

Total

16.731

25.652

34Algeria Zellidja was a highly profitable venture (see Table 4). Except in 1942 and 1950, capital increased by incorporation of reserves. Net profit on equity was fairly respectable on the eve of the war, falling only in the immediate post-war period. Profit as measured against sales was sometimes higher, indicating capacity to maintain earnings despite lower sales. Past 1952, Zellidja enjoyed a boom, as recently acquired equipment gave its full measure. Sales nearly tripled between 1950 and 1952, while net profit multiplied fivefold. Relative to capital, profitability soared in 1951 and remained exceptionally high until 1957. Sales revenues were at a peak until 1960, but net profit fell past 1956.

  • 53 Minutes of the meetings of the board of directors, ZAC.

35Zellidja’s heyday lasted as long as the source of its prosperity, the mines in Morocco and Algeria, yielded adequate quantifies of quality ore. By the late 1950’s, this was no longer the case as metal content diminished in blendes, then in galenas. Some pits and work sites had to be closed. In 1958, a Rotary drill was ordered from the US to accelerate exploration and an American technician brought to the company to train personnel in its use. Until 1961, the efficiency of the Waelz process in producing oxides offset the reduction in the supply of high-grade ore. Nevertheless, in 1963, dotation of calamine had to be curtailed. Several times in the early 1960’s production fell short of forecasts. Labour demanded higher wages and engaged in strike action, while rising costs were compounded by weak prices on the world market. As for the P-Z smelter, it posted operating losses in 1958 and 1959. For the first time since the 1930’s, Zellidja itself declared losses in 1962 and 1963. The following year, lead and zinc prices improved, allowing resumption of oxide production and giving Zellidja a new lease on life. In 1966, P-Z was again profitable.53

  • 54 Belaidi, “Transformation”, ZAC.

36P-Z made efforts to compensate for lower-quality concentrates by improving preparation of the lead to be smelted. In 1967, it acquired a DEMAG-brand overhead crane and bucket, an Eirich mixer and a conveyor.54 As expected, the depleted Bou Beker mine was closed in 1970, depriving the smelter of raw materials. Alternate sources, such as the Aouli mines, were too far removed; the composition of their lead required investments to upgrade equipment. In September 1971, the P-Z plant was shut down. ALZI and Aïn-Arko had been nationalised by Algeria in 1966. Only NAP remained in the Zellidja fold, but its permits had been ceded to ALZI in 1956. The Zellidja story seemed to have come to an end.

37A year later, the Asturienne discovered new ore near the abandoned Touissit mine, close to Oued el Heimer. Talks about reopening led to an agreement on 18 September 1973; capital of the new Société des Fonderies de Plomb de Zellidja (P-Z) was split between Zellidja (40 per cent), the Bureau de Recherches et de Participations Minières (BRPM), a State body (26 per cent), the Compagnie Minière de Touissit (20 per cent) and Penarroya-Maroc. Zellidja was responsible for modernising the smelter which reopened on 23 July 1975. The quantity of copper in Touissit lead required the installation of a new furnace in 1977 and another, the largest of its kind in the world, in 1981. Increasing supply from the mine induced P-Z to enlarge processing capacity to 85,000, then 120,000, tons of concentrates per year. Touissit remains the source of most of the ore reaching the Oued el Heimer smelter today.

conclusion

  • 55 Note by Walter, 13 April 1950, ZABB.

38The last Zellidja company was characteristic of the group’s tradition of adaptation and emphasis on investment in technical improvement. In 1950, while examining forecasts, Jean Walter expressed concern about expenses and cash flow. The firm had to make payments on its loan from the Banque d’Etat du Maroc. As he stressed the need to husband resources in order to balance commitments and liquidity, he made a revealing statement. Circumstances, he argued, were such that the company had to change course. It could no longer consider economy as an obstacle to the fulfilment of its programme on schedule. Mistakes could be costly. Walter added that he did not want to end up in the same position as André Citroën55 an interesting parallel to the automobile-maker who gave priority to investment in productivity and modem technology, but who also put his company in financial jeopardy.

39Even before Zellidja sought and obtained American financial and technical assistance, it was wedded to the quest for optimum scale, to be achieved by investing in fixed assets with the object of maximising output. It was also well disposed to productivity. Input from the US was consonant with prevalent outlook and established practise. In the 1940’s, Zellidja had good reason to be growth-oriented. Within its reach were ample supplies of raw materials; large and eager markets awaited abroad. It lacked the tools it needed, not the inducement to find them nor the frame of mind required to operate them. While providing the missing tangible elements, Newmont and St Joseph fitted into an hospitable environment. Therein lies the explanation for the fact that the US partners played a relatively minor role in the management of Zellidja. The company did not have to be transformed in order to integrate modem technology; it was already predisposed. Americanisation, either in the shape of direct takeover or of subordination to outside influence, was superfluous. Indeed, being partly American’ in orientation from its earliest days made Zellidja immune to the loss of its autonomy. It took from the US only those features it wanted and was prepared to assimilate. It benefited from an American contribution without being Americanised. Vigilance on the part of French authorities, while real, was not materially a factor counteracting Americanisation.

40Zellidja was an indefinable mix of a family business run along managerial lines, to which was grafted an American connection. The passing away of Jean Walter in 1957 did not mark a turning point in the general orientation of Zellidja. His son Jacques thereupon left the general manager’s position he had held since 1931. Two years later, he sold his shares in Zellidja to the Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP), a government agency, and resigned as director.

41In 1959, the OCP, the BRPM and the Bureau d’Études et de Participations Industrielles joined the board. Walter family influence waned but did not entirely disappear; Jean Lacaze, the new general manager, was Jean Walter’s brother-in-law and a director since the 1930’s. Like his predecessor, he was a genuine executive at the head of a team of technicians. Managerialism had combined with the presence of the founder and entrepreneur; it now worked in tandem with Moroccan state services. American presence on the board remained as inconspicuous as it had been. Newmont and St Joseph still sat as directors, although Fletcher retired in 1960 and Searls in 1963. The following year, the two companies sold their share in NAP to Zellidja but they remained with the latter until it ceased to exist.

  • 56 552AP 156, Archives Nationales (Paris).

42In a note praising concerted state-private sector action to develop and retain the French Empire, Jean Walter criticised some of the large French companies that rested on their laurels after some early successes.56 Growth and modernisation had to be a permanent objective. This was advice he and the business he founded took to heart. Past the Walter-Newmont-St Joseph era, P-Z, Zellidja’s successor, pursued the same policy of growth and adjustment of its tool of production to the raw materials and opportunities at hand. Its ways were American’ after the departure of the Americans, as Zellidja’s had been before their arrival.

Bibliographie

***

Bossuat G. 1997. La France, l’Aide Américaine et la Construction Européenne, 1944-1954, Paris, CHEFF.

Kipping M. 1999. “American Management Consulting Companies in Western Europe, 1920 to 1990: Products, Reputation and Relationships”, Business History Review, 73, p. 190-220.

Ramsey R. H., Men and Mines of Newmont. A fifty-year History, New York, Octagon Books, 1973.

Société des Mines de Zellidja. 1949, À la Recherche des Ressources Mondiales de Métal, 1949.

Annexes

Table 3: Output
Tons

Table 3: OutputTons

Data in sources is incomplete.
Aïn-Arko production is included in zinc results.
Sources: ZAC, General Manager’s annual report to the board of directors, 1953-1961
Report to meetings of shareholders of Zellidja (1939-1968), of P-Z (1954-1970).
AE (Paris), DE-CE 855, Note to ECA mission, October 1950.

Table 4: Profitability

Table 4: Profitability

There are gaps in the archives.
From 1961 to 1967, figures are in Dirhams.
Sources: Internal Profit and Loss Accounts, Balance Sheets, ZABB.

Notes

1 This paper is based mainly on the previously unused Zellidja company archives kept in Casablanca and at Bou Beker. I wish to express my gratitude to Chairman Mostafa El Sahel, Vice-Chairman Cherki Belaidi and company staff for their enlightened attitude toward scholarly research. Thanks also to Daniel Catan for his assistance.

2 R. H. Ramsey, Men and Mines of Newmont. A fifty-year History, New York, Octagon Books, 1973, p. 119.

3 General meeting (GM) of shareholders, December 26, 1939; Société des Mines de Zellidja, À la Recherche des Ressources Mondiales de Métal, 1949 (unpaginated brochure) [hereafter SMZ]; Metallgesellschaft Aktiengesellschaft, Metal Statistics, 1967-1977, Frankfurt am Main, 1978, p.380.

4 GM, 6 April 1940.

5 Ibid., and 26 December 1939.

6 SMZ 1949.

7 GM, 14 June 1941 and 8 June 1942. Charles Eugène Bedaux (1886-1944) devised a System of payment-by-results based on a unit of measurement representing one minute of work at normal speed plus rest. See M. Kipping, “American Management Consulting Companies in Western Europe, 1920 to 1990: Products, Reputation and Relationships”, Business History Review, 73, 1999, p. 197.

8 Report to GM, 8 June 1942 (typed first draft), Zellidja Archives, Casablanca [hereafter ZAC]. No reference to specific files can be given as the archives are uncatalogued.

9 Jean Walter to Gabriel Puaux, Resident General of the Protectorate, 19 January 1945, and note of 9 November 1948, Zellidja Archives, Bou Beker [hereafter ZABB],

10 SMZ 1949; Colonel Spillmann, General Secretary of the Comité de l’Afrique du Nord, to Minister of Foreign Affairs, May 23, 1945, M-Maroc 1944-1949, No. 122, Ministère des Affaires étrangères, Paris [hereafter AE].

11 Hoover’s Handbook of American Business 1997, Hoover’s Business Press, Austin, Texas; Standard & Poor’s, Listed Stock Reports, 1987.

12 31.85 per cent to Newmont, 17.15 per cent to St Joseph. Agreement between ECA, DPMA and MSA, 30 November 1951, ZABB.

13 Including diamond drills capable of penetrating 600 metres underground.

14 Walter to Bernard de Margerie, Ministry of Finance (France), 26 November 1947, ZABB; GM, 19 July 1947.

15 -Jean Walter to Labonne, Resident General, 13 January 1947, ZABB.

16 Harlan to Fred Searls Jr., Chairman of Newmont, 8 January 1947, ZABB.

17 Jean or Jacques Walter to Jacques Lucius, General Secretary of the Protectorate, 20 December 1946, ZABB.

18 Harlan to Emile Trystram, manager of Zellidja mines, 14 February 1947, ZABB.

19 Harlan to Trystram, 25 February 1947, ZABB.

20 Mining and Metallurgy, June 1947.

21 Trystram to Harlan, 15 December 1948, ZABB.

22 C. Kremer Bain, St Joseph’s shaft-sinking specialist, to Jacques Walter, 31 May 1951, ZABB.

23 Jacques Claveau, “Proposed Surface Exploration Drilling Program”, 20 February 1958, ZAC.

24 Study by J. Ségaud, 15 November 1948, ZAC; SMZ 1949.

25 Jean Walter to Resident General, 29 November 1948; same to Chief Engineer of Mines Department (Algeria), 3 December 1948; report by Bain, 1 May 1949, ZABB. In fact, daily average was 3,600 tons during the 1950’s and annual production around 40,000 tons.

26 Summary of the meeting by Zellidja delegate, ZABB.

27 Note, 27 August 1948, ZABB.

28 Chambre Syndicale des Industries Minières du Maroc to Zellidja, 23 August 1948, ZABB.

29 Note on meeting of 31 August 1948, ZABB.

30 Guillaume Guindey, Ministry of Finance (France), to General Alphonse Juin, Resident General, 23 September 1948, ZABB.

31 Program, 30 August 1948, ZABB. The 2,000-ton mill was not built.

32 Note on meeting of 16 September 1948, ZABB.

33 Text and analysis of agreement, Maroc CDRG, No. 117, AE.

34 Foreign Affairs to Juin, 16 March 1949, AE.

35 G. Bossuat, La France, l'Aide Américaine et la Construction Européenne, 1944-1954, Paris, CHEFF, 1997, I, p. 573.

36 Analysis of agreement, 27 June 1949, Maroc CDRG, No. 117, AE.

37 Jean Lacaze, Director of Zellidja, to Searls, 22 March 1949, ZABB; Bossuat: I, 573.

38 Foreign Affairs to French ambassador in the US, 25 January 1951, M-Maroc 1950-1955, No. 117c, AE.

39 Juin to Foreign Affairs, 28 July 1950, M-Maroc 1950-1955, No. 117c, AE.

40 Juin to Foreign Affairs, 6 December 1950, No. 132a, AE.

41 Foreign Affairs note, 2 January 1951, AE.

42 Foreign Affairs to Resident General, 25 April 1950, DE-CE 856, AE.

43 Table, 1953, M-Maroc 1950-1955, No. 130c, AE; Bossuat: I, 578-611.

44 GM, 24 April 1958.

45 Division des Mines (Morocco), État Récapitulatif, 1951,1954, M-Maroc 1950-1955, No. 130c, AE. Zinc sent to Belgium and Germany was processed and redirected respectively to France and the US.

46 Note dated 28 March 1949, ZABB.

47 État Récapitulatif, 1951, M-Maroc 1950-1955, No. 130c, AE.

48 Ibid. ; internal balance sheets, ZABB.

49 Report to GM of Zellidja, 20 June 1952; of P-Z, 22 March 1954; C. Belaidi, “Transformation des Concentrés de Plomb à la Fonderie d’Oued el Heimer”, 20 October 1983, ZAC.

50 Minutes of the meetings of the board of directors, 28 May 1962 and 17 February 1965, ZAC.

51 Rapport sur le Plomb et le Zinc, 18 April 1953, M-Maroc 1950-1955, No. 112a, AE. The third was Pañarroya’s unit at Mégrine in Tunisia (capacity: 22,000 tons).

52 État Récapitulatif, 1951, 1954, No. 130c, AE.

53 Minutes of the meetings of the board of directors, ZAC.

54 Belaidi, “Transformation”, ZAC.

55 Note by Walter, 13 April 1950, ZABB.

56 552AP 156, Archives Nationales (Paris).

Table des illustrations

Titre Table 3: OutputTons
Légende Data in sources is incomplete.Aïn-Arko production is included in zinc results.Sources: ZAC, General Manager’s annual report to the board of directors, 1953-1961Report to meetings of shareholders of Zellidja (1939-1968), of P-Z (1954-1970).AE (Paris), DE-CE 855, Note to ECA mission, October 1950.
URL http://books.openedition.org/irhis/docannexe/image/1981/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 140k
Titre Table 4: Profitability
Légende There are gaps in the archives.From 1961 to 1967, figures are in Dirhams.Sources: Internal Profit and Loss Accounts, Balance Sheets, ZABB.
URL http://books.openedition.org/irhis/docannexe/image/1981/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 115k

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