— This is the script of CNBC's news report for China's CCTV on February 19, Wednesday.
Welcome the CNBC Business Daily.
As the US grapples with record-breaking snow falls, salt miners are finding an unusual opportunity in adversity. NBC's Ron Mott has more:
Another day in Massachusetts, more snow again.
One of many states' record books may be re-written by winter's end, a season increasingly measured by the inch and by the ton.
A $50 billion price tag nationwide, getting bigger with each storm.
And with Spring still more than a month away, snow fall totals are climbing fast.
In Detroit, 76.4 inches so far - third snowiest.
Chicago, pushing 67 inches - 5th most in its history.
Philadelphia closing in on 5 feet, and New York city, 57.1 inches.
At American Rock Salt, an hour east of Buffalo, New York..."500 tons".
Orders are flooding in as road salt supplies dwindle around the country.
Shortages that even led Connecticut's Governor to declare a state of emergency.
There were similar concerns in neighbouring Rhode Island.
[Soundbyte on tape by Michael Lewis, Director, Rhode Island Department of Transportation] If there is salt that exists somewhere else in the market, we'll see what we can do to get it. About 30,000 tonnes here..."
American Rock Salt has ramped up operations to nearly max capacity.
Two hundred plus miners are blasting salt a quarter mile below ground around the clock, a steady line of big rigs and train cars waiting to haul it away - from Boston to Baltimore, Vermont to Virginia.
And it's all they can do to keep up with demand.
[Soundbyte on tape by Greg Norris, Plant Manager, American Rock Salt] It's been a winter from heaven for us here. With this winter's demand, it's been just a tremendous shipping season for us. "It just gets to a point where you can't shovel it any higher, and you know...I'm ready for Spring."
While the misery factor is high for many Americans, worn out from constantly digging out, salt miners are tired too. But happy for the work, and all that overtime.
[Soundbyte on tape by Ben Nahalka, Miner, American Rock Salt] It's going to be a better year for all the workers. Probably some of them will push $50,000 or $60,000 this year.
Could space tourism be around the corner?
Reporter: Jane Wells
There are suddenly a lot of elements coming together in the private space market.
Take a look at this. Here at the Mojave Space Port in California last month, Virgin Galactic had a third powered test of the craft which will carry paying passengers to the edge of the atmosphere.
Richard Branson saying those trips will finally begin this year.
But, its private spacecraft, rockets and crew carriers are all being built mostly to help NASA avoid paying the Russians to get to the space station.
The goal of many of these private companies is to get to the moon. Once there, where do you stay? Enter Robert Bigelow.
Bigelow: This is the BA330, three hundred and thirty cubic meters.
We got a rare peak inside Bigelow's aerospace company in Las Vegas where he is building inflatable habitats for low earth orbit.
A small one is going to the space station next year.
Two larger ones will be ready for launch in 2016 and eventually he's planning on building and seling a lunar base.
He has filed paperwork asking the US government to sign a space treaty so anyone who gets to the moon has private property considerations.
[Soundbyte on tape by Robert Bigelow, Founder, Bigelow Aerospace] There is already a policy that declares that if you have a habitable system in space that there is a stand-off zone of 200 miles. We're asking for that same consideration. Landings can occur but not in their own backyard.
Wells: how much money have you put into this?
Bigelow: I stopped counting at $250 million.
It's been seven years since Bigelow was in Russia successfully putting into orbit two test habitats.
But timing is everything. You don't want to be too far in front spending money on habitats without transports to get people to them. You don't want to spend money on rockets and transport vehicles without some place to live at the other end.
Bigelow thinks both sides will come together in 2017 and in the meantime he is very closely watching China's space program, determined to enable the US to maintain supremacy at least on the moon.
I'm Jane Wells in Mojave, California. Back to you in Asia.
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