848A.24/220: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Consul at Capetown (Denby)

63. For the Minister. Your 372 April 2, 288 March 16 and 283 March 15 from Capetown25 and 62 March 10 from Pretoria. The Department has discussed with the other interested agencies the Prime Minister’s views as reported in your telegram, and his cooperative attitude is much appreciated. In view of the political factors involved, and the Prime Minister’s concern with the relation between gold mining and the Union economy as a whole, we are prepared to undertake that, if a satisfactory decision is reached concerning a reduction in gold mining operations, we will endeavor to make available the supplies required to maintain the industry within the agreed limits. We feel, as you know, that such a decision should be made jointly by the American, British, and Union Governments, and that any determination of the limits to be imposed on gold mining should take into account the total requirements of the Union, including the maximum possible expansion of its war effort and the needs of its domestic economy. We believe that this is what the Prime Minister means by paragraphs 2 and 4 of your 288 and hope that you will be able to confirm our impression. At the same time it should be made clear that, although we are willing to use our best efforts to furnish supplies for the gold mines within limits approved by the three Governments concerned, our undertaking to do this cannot be regarded as a guarantee or firm commitment, because it will be subject to lack of shipping, shortages of materials, and other factors which are constantly shifting in the interest of the war effort and therefore cannot be predicted. An obligation to provide supplies for any purpose must of course be attended by such reservations.

Please telegraph at once if you should feel that our position will not be satisfactory to the South African Government. Otherwise, you should convey the substance of the foregoing to the Prime Minister or his representatives.

The British have not yet replied to the Department’s memorandum concerning the proposed council. If their answer is favorable, and we [Page 188]believe that it will be, it will be necessary to review South African requirements with them. A large amount of information concerning these requirements was assembled last summer by the BEW mission and taken by Price26 to Washington, but we assume that Sharpstone must have copies. There are also the studies of requirements and of gold production made by Lend-Lease, which Gage27 brought with him to South Africa. We suggest that you ask Gage and Sharpstone to examine this material, ascertain whether it has been fully coordinated, reduce it to a form in which it can conveniently be used, determine whether it is recent and comprehensive enough for our present purposes, and send copies of a final report to the Department. We will need a full picture of South African requirements, with allowances made for expansion of those industries which contribute directly to the war and curtailment of those which do not. The precise extent of such expansion or curtailment cannot be decided now, but we must be in a position to take up the entire question of requirements without loss of time when the British answer is received. We are planning to form a committee composed of representatives of the agencies interested in the supply problems of South Africa, and we should accordingly appreciate receiving frequent reports concerning the development of the supply program.

There is particular and urgent interest here in the matter of coal and the important economy that could be effected in the use of shipping if coal could be sent from the Union to South America. We are glad that the Prime Minister is in agreement as to the importance of this question, and we hope that you will obtain as soon as possible from the South African Government a statement of the measures that can be taken to make increased quantities of coal available at Durban.

  1. Telegrams Nos. 372 and 283 not printed.
  2. Hickman Price, Jr., of the Board of Economic Warfare and member of the Requirements Commission in southern Africa.
  3. Charles L. Gage, Chief of Foreign Missions, Lend-Lease Administration, Iceland and South Africa.