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HQ 964876

DECEMBER 11, 2001

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 964876 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 8543.30.00

Thomas Rosensweet
AIM Primary Metals, Inc.
475 Park Avenue South, 24th Floor
New York, NY 10016

RE: Magnesium Anodes for Cathodic Protection

Dear Mr. Rosensweet:

As you are aware, your letter to the Customs Information Exchange of the U.S. Customs Service, New York, dated January 19, 2001, inquiring as to the classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of magnesium anodes, has been referred to this office for reply. In a letter to this office, dated July 20, 2001, you expanded this ruling request to include so-called "packed" anodes. Your letter of November 28, 2001, provided supplemental information for our consideration.


Magnesium anodes for cathodic protection are commonly of two types, impressed current and sacrificial. Your inquiry concerns the latter type, in both bare configuration and "packed." Anodes of this type are used in cathodic protection systems to retard corrosion in underground tanks and pipelines, in ships' hulls, and other environments where high moisture levels are present. These anodes are cast from melted magnesium ingots and have holes drilled in the center for insertion of a steel wire. The anodes will be imported in four grades, high potential anodes containing between 98.5 to 99.5 percent magnesium, by weight, and alloyed anodes, designated AZ63B, AZ63C and AZ63D, each containing between 90 to 93 percent magnesium, by weight. They are not of a type used for die casting.

Packed anodes consist of bare anodes in a cotton fiber bag filled with 75 percent gypsum, 20 percent bentonite and 5 percent sodium sulfate. You indicate these materials maintain a steady level of moisture around the anode and reduces anode-to-earth resistance.

After importation, a cable or wire connects the anode to the object being protected, the cathode. The magnesium/steel anode has a large enough natural voltage difference to independently produce an electrical current flow. Upon receiving current, negatively charged ions flow from the anode to the tank, pipeline or other object being protected. This phenomenon initiates the buildup of a protective alkali layer on the cathode, thus arresting the buildup of corrosion on its surface, while gradually oxidizing or eroding the anode in the process. Hence the term "sacrificial." No external electrical source is required for these anodes to be effective.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

8543 Electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere [in chapter 84]; parts thereof:

8543.30.00 Machines and apparatus for electroplating, electrolysis or electrophoresis:

Other machines and apparatus:

8543.89.96 Other

8543.90 Parts:

8543.90.88 Other


Whether magnesium anodes for use in sacrificial cathodic protection systems are machines and apparatus for electrolysis of heading 8543, or parts of such apparatus.


Under General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 1, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), goods are to be classified according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6. GRI 3(b) states in part that a composite good consisting of different materials or made up of different components not provided for in its own heading shall be classified according to the material or component which imparts the essential character to the good.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. Though not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

While magnesium in the form of anodes is often considered a manufactured primary form of that base metal, and therefore unwrought magnesium for tariff purposes, it is clear that molten magnesium cast around a steel rod does not qualify as a manufactured "primary form" of metal. The ENs on p. 1518 state, among other things, that heading 8543, electrical machines and apparatus having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in [chapter 85], covers all electrical apparatus not falling in any other heading of chapter 85, nor excluded by an applicable legal note, or covered more specifically by a heading of any other chapter of the Nomenclature. Most of the appliances of heading 8543 consist of an assembly of electrical goods or parts (valves, transformers, capacitors, chokes, resistors, etc.) operating wholly electrically. We are satisfied that the cast magnesium anodes, as described, qualify as goods of heading 8543. Such anodes for use in sacrificial cathodic protection systems would be considered apparatus for electroplating, electrolysis or electrophoresis, provided for in subheading 8543.30.00. A copy of HQ 965250, dated November 20, 2001, which explains Customs position on the classification of these anodes, is enclosed for your information.

The packed anodes consist of materials and components, each prima facie classifiable in a different heading. GRI 3(b) requires that such goods be classified according to the material or component which imparts the essential character to the whole. The bentonite, in the form of powdered clay, is provided for in heading 2508, HTSUS, as other clays. The gypsum, also in powdered form, is provided for as gypsum, in heading 2520, HTSUS, while the sodium sulfate is
provided for as a sulfate, in heading 2833, HTSUS. As indicated, the anode is a good of heading 8543. As to the essential character of the packed anodes, the determining factor or factors will vary with the goods. The bulk, quantity or weight of a material or component, its value, or the role of a material or component in relation to the use of the good, are often considered. In this case, the bentonite, gypsum and sodium sulfate are electrically conductive earth backfill which, when moisture is added, lowers the resistance between the magnesium and the earth, causing more electric current to flow. It is apparent that these materials serve to enhance the natural voltage difference the anode possesses so as to strengthen the electrical flow through the metal wire to the cathode. For this reason, it is the anode component that imparts the essential character to the packed anode.


Under the authority of GRI 1, HTSUS, the cast magnesium alloy anodes, as described, are provided for in heading 8543. They are classifiable in subheading 8543.30.00, HTSUS. Under the authority of GRI 3(b), HTSUS, the packed magnesium anodes, as described, are likewise provided for in heading 8543. They are also classifiable in subheading 8543.30.00, HTSUS.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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