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Spain: Mining
Country Study > Chapter 3 > The Economy > Industry > Mining


Though Spain's mining sector, including the coal-mining industry, employed only 80,000 persons and was responsible for only about 1 percent of the country's GDP in the late 1980s, Spain was an important producer of minerals. It was one of the world's leading producers of slate and strontium. It ranked second in the production of granite and marble; third, in pyrites and natural sodium sulfate; sixth, in fluorspar; seventh, in kyanite and other refractory minerals; eighth, in magnesite and potash; ninth, in tantalite; and tenth, in anthracite, asphalt, and bentonite.

Spanish mineral production was of particular significance to the EC because Spain was its sole producer of mercury, natural sodium sulfate, and tantalite. Moreover, Spain mined approximately 9 percent of all EC copper, 86 percent of its antimony, 65 percent of its gold and pyrite, 47 percent of its silver, 41 percent of its lead and magnesite, 38 percent of its iron ore and tungsten, and 28 percent of its fluorspar and zinc. In addition to mining, Spain was an important processor of raw minerals, both those produced domestically and those imported from abroad. Although Spain was the most self-sufficient member of the EC with regard to minerals, imports were needed to meet about 30 percent of its needs.

In the mid-1980s, Spain's mining industry suffered from the depressed state of the world minerals market, and the production of most substances had declined. The drop in the value of the dollar, the dominant currency in the mineral trade, further reduced the sector's profits, which had already been damaged by declining sales. Spanish production of copper, tin, and wolfram all declined by more than 75 percent in 1987. The production of iron, pyrites, and fluorspar also dropped significantly in the same year. Zinc, potassium salts, uranium, and lead production remained steady during this period, however.

Data as of December 1988

Last Updated: December 1988

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Spain was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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