Spain: Mining, Minerals and Fuel Resources (2022)

Aug 23 2012

Spain is located in southwestern Europe and borders the Pyrenees Mountains, the Bay of Biscay, the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It has a total area of 505,370 km2, and its population was 46.72 million as of 2018. The climatic conditions of the country vary from temperate in the central regions to moderate along the coast.

Spain: Mining, Minerals and Fuel Resources (1)
The national flag of Spain.
Image Credit: CIA Factbook

The country is rich in natural resources, including kaolin, sepiolite, gypsum, fluorspar, uranium, zinc, lead, copper, tungsten, iron ore, and coal. The country was severely affected by a civil war in the 1930s, which slowed down its economic growth. However, the transition to democracy and rapid economic modernization during the 1980s made the country one of the strongest economies in the world.

Spain’s economic recession in late 2008 resulted in the country’s GDP decreasing by 3.7% in 2009 to $1.402 trillion, and by 0.1% in 2010 to $1.400 trillion. However, due to an increase in the country’s trade and investment, improvement in infrastructure, and structural reforms, its GDP increased to $1.494 trillion in 2011. In 2018, Spain’s GDP experienced a 2.5% growth increase.

Overview of Resources

Spain has abundant reserves of lead, uranium, tungsten, mercury, magnesite, fluorspar, gypsum, sepiolite, iron, nickel, crude oil, and natural gas. The country’s significant mineral products include copper, zinc, gold, steel, coal, cement, and alumina. Globally, Spain is:

  • The fifth-largest producer of gypsum
  • The fifth-largest producer of fluorite

In 2018, the total export value of Spain amounted to $345.2 billion, whereas its total import value amounted to $388 billion, which is comparable to its 2009 values of $326.7 billion and $360.3 billion respectively.

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Spain: Mining, Minerals and Fuel Resources (2)

The map of Spain. Image Credit: CIA Factbook

In 2018, the majority of Spain’s exports included vehicles; making up approximately 17.1% of its total exports that year. Other significant exports included mineral fuels, including oil, machinery (such as computers and other technology), plastic materials, pharmaceuticals, fruits, nuts, clothing, iron, and steel. These primary exports accounted for almost 56% of Spain’s total global shipments in 2018.

Metals

In 2010, the Inmet Mining Corp of Canada acquired Las Cruces copper mine, which was estimated to contain 17.6 metric tons (MT) of proven copper reserves. The total production capacity of the mine was 72,000 metric tons per year (MT/yr) of copper cathode and 1 MT of copper ore.

Ormonde Mining plc of Ireland also began exploring the Salamanca-Zamora area, which was considered to be one of the significant gold terrains in the country.

Orvana Minerals Corp. (OMC) of Canada acquired El Valle-Boinas and the Carles copper and gold skarn deposits in northern Spain. The deposits were estimated to contain indicated reserves 6.4 MT grading 4.7 g/t gold and 0.80% copper and inferred resources of 7.3 MT grading 5.4 g/ton gold and 0.45% copper. In 2011, OMC planned to begin production in the El Valle-Boinas and Carles gold-copper project with a total capacity of 750,000 MT/yr.

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Spain was reported to be the world’s sixteenth largest producer of steel in 2017. By 2018, Spain reportedly exported 8.9 million MT of steel, which unfortunately was a 7% decrease from that which was exported in the previous year.

Compared to more substantial steel exporting nations, such as China and Japan, Spain’s steel exports measure at 14% and 25% of what is produced in those nations respectively. The primary importing nations of Spain’s steel include France, Portugal, and Italy.

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As of December 2017, Spain’s aluminum exports provided the nation with approximately USD 3 million in revenue, which is an increase from the previous year’s USD 2.34 million.

Industrial Minerals

Between December 2017 and 2018, Spain’s cement output was estimated to be 13.4 MT, which was 1.1 MT greater than what was achieved between December 2016 and 2017. The two primary cement companies that currently operate in Spain include Cementos Mexicanos and Votorantim.

The production capacity of Minerales y Productos Derivados S.A. (MINERSA) that operated three fluorite deposits in Asturias was 150,000 t/yr of fluorspar. The combined capacity of the Emilio, the Jaimina, and the Moscona underground mines is 420,000 tons/yr of crude ore fluorspar. In 2010, the total amount of fluorspar output in the country was 131,000 tons, compared to 122,408 tons in 2009.

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In 2010, Iberpotash S.A. or ICL Fertilizers Europe announced the first stage of construction of a plant at Suria for $260 million to produce vacuum salt. The company has planned to expand potash production capacity of Suria to 1.1 MT of potash and 1.5 MT of salt.

The Grupo Tolsa S.A acquired River Tajo Basin, which was estimated to have more than 15 MT of saprolite. In 2010, the country’s saprolite output was 770,000 t.

Fossil Fuels

As many countries around the world are looking towards more environmentally-friendly energy sources, the Spanish government and its unions entered a $258 million USD deal in which coal miners would be provided with early retirement funds, while younger miners would be provided with retraining programs that will allow them to accommodate the new energy trends of this nation.

With many coal miners around the world fearing unemployment as a result of the rise in renewable energy use, Spain has emerged as a leader that proves a nation can simultaneously transition away from polluting energy sources while also protecting their citizens from losing work. By 2050, Spain plans to decarbonize their nation completely and rely entirely on renewable energy for their electricity needs.

As of March 2019, Spain’s crude oil production was estimated to be 0.96 thousand barrels per day. This crude oil production includes crude oil, shale oil, oil sands, and natural gas liquids (NGLs). As Spain’s production of crude oil continues to decline, they have become more dependent on importing crude oil from various other countries, including Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Nigeria. In December 2017, it was estimated that Spain imported 1,350 barrels of crude oil each day.

Poseidon, operated by Repsol YPF S.A., is the major natural gas producer in the country. Although Spain’s natural gas production fluctuates each year, this nation produced a total of 2.19 billion cubic feet of natural gas in 2015.

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Recently, Australia-based Berkeley and Spanish state-owned Enusa have signed an agreement to recover the uranium production at the Addendum Reserves, which include the Villar deposit, the unmined Alameda deposit, and others. According to Berkeley, the total amount of uranium oxide reserves in the Addendum Reserves is 30.6 million pounds.

Investment

Spain has one of Europe’s most diverse mining industries, which produces most of the industrial minerals. Owing to the gold reserve discoveries at the El Valle-Boinas and Carles deposits in northern Spain, highly prospective geology, and the Rio Narcea Belt, the country has attracted many foreign investors. Also, the country’s skilled workforce, well-developed infrastructure, and fiscal policies, and legislative framework have encouraged foreign investment in its mineral industry.

However, the country’s mineral output is not enough to meet the domestic requirements, and hence, it continues to be a large-scale importer of mineral products. In an attempt to reduce its dependence on imports, the Spanish government planned to increase the country’s trade and investment, improve its infrastructure, and revise its laws according to European Union (EU) guidelines in 2010. Recent investments and exploration efforts in Spain have allowed this country’s mining output to grow by 20% in 2017.

Disclaimer: The author of this article does not imply any investment recommendation and some content is speculative in nature. The Author is not affiliated in any way with any companies mentioned and all statistical information is publically available.

Sources and Further Reading

This article was updated on the 18th July, 2019.

FAQs

What resources are mined in Spain? ›

The country also has many mineral resources, including hard and brown coal, small petroleum and natural gas deposits, iron ore, uranium, mercury, pyrites, fluorspar, gypsum, zinc, lead, tungsten, copper, and potash.

What resources made Spain rich? ›

Unlike other Mediterranean countries, Spain was a particularly rich source of minerals, including gold, silver, lead, and copper. These resources formed the basis of prosperity for natives and were eagerly sought by outsiders.

What mineral products were extracted from Spain? ›

Of the 100 minerals mined, 18 were produced in large quantities—bentonite, copper, fluorspar, glauberite, gold, iron, lead, magnetite, mercury, potash, pyrites, quartz, refractory argillite, sea and rock salt, sepiolitic salts, tin, tungsten, and zinc.

What is Spain's biggest natural resource? ›

Coal. Spain's coal deposit is estimated to be over 4,500 million tons, and this includes the accessible reserves of about 1,156 million tons.

What is Spain known for producing? ›

Spain is the world's largest producer of olive oil and Europe's largest producer of lemons, oranges, and strawberries. The best-known wine regions are those of Rioja (see Rioja, La), in the upper Ebro valley, and of Málaga and Jerez de la Frontera, in Andalusia. Cattle, pigs, and poultry are raised.

Does Spain have oil? ›

Spain has a negligible amount of oil reserves and produces very small amounts of crude oil and condensate. Because Spain lacks domestic petroleum resources, it imports virtually all of the oil needed to meet its demand, which in 2016 was nearly 1.3 million b/d.

What is Spain's major export? ›

Exports The top exports of Spain are Cars ($32B), Packaged Medicaments ($11.6B), Motor vehicles; parts and accessories (8701 to 8705) ($9.14B), Refined Petroleum ($7.77B), and Pig Meat ($6.46B), exporting mostly to France ($47.6B), Germany ($34B), Portugal ($23.8B), Italy ($22.8B), and United Kingdom ($18.9B).

Is gold mined in Spain? ›

Las Médulas (Spanish pronunciation: [laz ˈmeðulas]) is a historic gold-mining site near the town of Ponferrada in the comarca of El Bierzo (province of León, Castile and León, Spain).

What is Spain's biggest industry? ›

Economy of Spain
Statistics
Main industriesmachinery electronics medical equipment chemicals motor vehicles clothing food processing tourism shipbuilding
Ease-of-doing-business rank30th (very easy, 2020)
External
Exports$533.8 billion (2019 est.)
37 more rows

Is Spain poor or rich country? ›

Being rich in a poor country also has costs.
...
Advertisement.
RankCountryGDP-PPP ($)
37Cyprus48,443
38Czech Republic47527
39Lithuania46,479
40Spain46,413
143 more rows
1 Aug 2022

How did the Spanish get so rich? ›

Spain grew rich from the gold and silver it found after conquering native civilizations in Mexico and South America. However, conflict with Indians and the failure to find major silver or gold deposits made it difficult to persuade settlers to colonize there.

How many mines are there in Spain? ›

Spain has a long mining tradition particularly in the production of gold and other metals and has a large mining potential. Today there are 2731 operating mines and approximately 1000 closed.

Does Spain have good soil? ›

20.6 million of Spain's 50.5 million hectares of land, or about 40 percent, is suitable for cultivation. The soil is generally of poor quality, and about 10 percent of the land can be considered excellent.

How strong is Spain's economy? ›

With a GDP of $1.2 billion, Spain is the 4th economy of the EU - save for that of the United Kingdom - and the 14th in the world. Spain is the 13th recipient of foreign investments in the world. More than 14,600 foreign firms have set up their business in Spain.

Is Spain good for farming? ›

Spain ranks second, after France, in the European Union in terms of land area used for organic farming (2.44 million hectares), according to Eurostat data, and sixth in the world. Andalusia, Castilla La Mancha and Catalonia are the regions with the highest number of organic farms.

What is Spain known for worldwide? ›

Spain is famous for its easy-going culture, delicious food and stunning scenery. Major cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia all offer unique traditions, languages and must-see sites! Vibrant festivals such as La Fallas and La Tomatina draw huge crowds of both locals and tourists.

Whats best about Spain? ›

Spain may be renowned for its beaches and sunny climes, but it is a country of diverse landscapes. Its mountains are majestic, from the northern Pyrenees and the Picos de Europa to the Sierra Nevada in the south (home to Europe's most southerly ski resort) and the Mount Teide volcano on the Canary Island of Tenerife.

What cars are made in Spain? ›

The main manufacturers established in the country are Daimler AG (manufacturing plant in Vitoria), Ford (its plant located in Almussafes is Ford's biggest in Europe), Opel (Figueruelas), Nissan (Barcelona), PSA Peugeot Citroen (Vigo), Renault (with plants in Palencia and other Spanish locations), SEAT (Martorell), ...

Where does Spain get its fuel? ›

Spain is also continuing to rely more on liquefied natural gas, which in June represented almost 77% of gas imports, a 29 percentage point increase from the same month in 2021. While Algerian gas is mostly sent to Spain via pipeline, with LNG representing only a small part, Russian supplies are all LNG.

Where does Spain get petrol from? ›

In 2021, around 13.6 percent of the crude oil imported by Spain came from Mexico, which represented the second highest figure on the list, followed by Libya with 11.2 percent. During that year, Spain's main petroleum seller was Nigeria with around 18.3 percent of the total imports.

Does Spain get gas from Russia? ›

Sept 8 (Reuters) - Spain's gas imports in July jumped 27% from a year earlier as shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG), mainly from the United States and Russia, soared, government data showed on Thursday.

What does Spain sell the most? ›

Spain's Top Exports
  • Refined petroleum – $13.3 billion.
  • Pig meat – $4.05 billion.
  • Pure olive oil – $3.68 billion.
  • Citrus – $3.67 billion.
  • Copper ore – $2.23 billion.
5 Mar 2021

What are Spain's top 5 imports? ›

Spain's Top 10 Imports
  • Mineral fuels including oil: US$54.9 billion (13.1% of total imports)
  • Vehicles: $40.3 billion (9.6%)
  • Machinery including computers: $39 billion (9.3%)
  • Electrical machinery, equipment: $35.8 billion (8.6%)
  • Pharmaceuticals: $24.8 billion (5.9%)
  • Plastics, plastic articles: $16.5 billion (3.9%)
13 Mar 2022

Who is Spain's largest trading partner? ›

Spain's Top Trading Partners
  • France: US$61.7 billion (16.1% of total Spanish exports)
  • Germany: $39.7 billion (10.3%)
  • Italy: $32.8 billion (8.5%)
  • Portugal: $31.3 billion (8.2%)
  • United Kingdom: $22.2 billion (5.8%)
  • United States: $17.4 billion (4.5%)
  • Belgium: $17.3 billion (4.5%)
  • Netherlands: $14.4 billion (3.7%)
11 Mar 2022

Does Spain have a lot of gold? ›

Gold Reserves in Spain averaged 353.20 Tonnes from 2000 until 2022, reaching an all time high of 523.47 Tonnes in the second quarter of 2000 and a record low of 281.58 Tonnes in the first quarter of 2014.

How much gold does Spain produce? ›

Spain Gold Production was reported at 1,913.000 kg in Dec 2019. This records a decrease from the previous figure of 1,992.000 kg for Dec 2018. Spain Gold Production data is updated yearly, averaging 3,350.000 kg from Dec 1990 to 2019, with 30 observations.

Is there a lot of gold in Spain? ›

Spain's reported gold holdings stood constant at 281.6 tonnes during the period under consideration, from 2014 to 2021.

Is Spain richer than Italy? ›

While Italy is still more economically powerful than Spain, it displays more structural imbalances and declining trends. There is a greater demographic problem in Italy than in Spain.

Is Spain a strong country? ›

The most powerful nations in the world shape global economic patterns, maintain a strong military, and establish foreign policies whose effects reverberate all around the world.
...
Most Powerful Countries 2022.
Power Rank18
CountrySpain
GDP$1.39 Tn
GDP per Capita$29,565
2022 Population47,558,630
76 more columns

Is Spain a good place to live? ›

Spain ranks in the top 20 of the Expat Insider 2021 survey overall, placing 16th out of 59 countries. Achieving a good eighth place in the Quality of Life Index, it seems the perfect destination for expats seeking greener pastures.

Is Spain better than the US? ›

US residents have a very high purchasing power, significantly higher than in Spain.
...
USA.
USASpain
Health Care Index69.02 High78.15 High
Climate Index76.51 High93.83 Very High
Cost of Living Index69.18 Moderate51.68 Low
Property Price to Income Ratio4.59 Very Low8.72 Moderate
5 more rows
18 May 2022

Is Spain a 1st world country? ›

Definition of First World

Modern journalists using the term First World countries are typically describing the most industrialized nations. This includes all of the major actors on both sides of the Cold War: the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Australia, and more.

Which country is No 1 poor country? ›

1. Niger. A combination of a GNI per capita of $906, life expectancy of 60.4 years, and a mean 2 years of schooling (against an expected 5.4) lead to Niger topping the UN's human development report as the world's poorest country.

Why did Spain become so poor? ›

The Spanish people suffered as Spain did because of the country's financial woes. The royal taxation disproportionately disadvantaged the public that had little money to spare, and the price inflation that exceeded wage increases exacerbated this effect.

What happened to all of Spain's gold? ›

But, what happened to the Spanish gold? Basically, it slowly spread around the world. As the Spanish bought goods. It is also worth noting, although it was huge sums for the time, it was still a fraction of today's annual gold production.

Was Spain ever the richest country in the world? ›

For generations Spain was arguably the richest country in the world, and certainly the most far-flung.

Does Spain have coal mines? ›

The only significant conventional energy resource that Spain possesses is coal, totalling 4 550 million tonnes, including accessible reserves of 1 187 million tonnes. In 2018, coal met 7.8% of the country's energy demand: 2.5 million tonnes of domestic production and 15.8 million tonnes of imported coal.

How much coal does Spain produce? ›

Spain produces 2,187,157.21 tons (short tons, "st") of Coal per year (as of 2016) ranking 40th in the world.

Are there coal mines in Spain? ›

Almost all of Spain's remaining coal mines, concentrated in the four provinces of Asturias, Palencia, Teruel and León, closed in December 2018. They were followed in July 2020 by the thermal power stations that until then had been burning coal.

What is Spain's major export? ›

Exports The top exports of Spain are Cars ($32B), Packaged Medicaments ($11.6B), Motor vehicles; parts and accessories (8701 to 8705) ($9.14B), Refined Petroleum ($7.77B), and Pig Meat ($6.46B), exporting mostly to France ($47.6B), Germany ($34B), Portugal ($23.8B), Italy ($22.8B), and United Kingdom ($18.9B).

How does Spain make money? ›

Spain's diversified economy includes manufacturing, financial services, pharmaceuticals, textiles and apparel, footwear, chemicals, and a booming tourism industry.

Are there gold mines in Spain? ›

Las Médulas (Spanish pronunciation: [laz ˈmeðulas]) is a historic gold-mining site near the town of Ponferrada in the comarca of El Bierzo (province of León, Castile and León, Spain).

What does Spain sell the most? ›

Spain's Top Exports
  • Refined petroleum – $13.3 billion.
  • Pig meat – $4.05 billion.
  • Pure olive oil – $3.68 billion.
  • Citrus – $3.67 billion.
  • Copper ore – $2.23 billion.
5 Mar 2021

Does Spain get gas from Russia? ›

Sept 8 (Reuters) - Spain's gas imports in July jumped 27% from a year earlier as shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG), mainly from the United States and Russia, soared, government data showed on Thursday.

Where does Spain buy its oil from? ›

Spain typically imports crude oil from all regions except Asia. Most of their crude oil in 2016 came from Mexico, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, and Angola. Liquid fuels accounted for about 46% of Spain's total primary energy consumption in 2016, although this share has declined since the 1990s.

Is Spain poor or rich? ›

Would you rather be rich in a poor country or poor in a rich one? Measuring how rich a country is not that easy (spoiler: it is not just about GDP).
...
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RankCountryGDP-PPP ($)
37Cyprus48,443
38Czech Republic47527
39Lithuania46,479
40Spain46,413
143 more rows
1 Aug 2022

Why is unemployment so high in Spain? ›

Spain has long had high unemployment, largely due to the ease with which employers can fire staff in a market in which almost a quarter of jobs are held under temporary contracts. February's 12.6% unemployment rate was still the European Union's highest, according to Eurostat.

Is Spain richer than Italy? ›

While Italy is still more economically powerful than Spain, it displays more structural imbalances and declining trends. There is a greater demographic problem in Italy than in Spain.

Does Spain have a lot of gold? ›

Gold Reserves in Spain averaged 353.20 Tonnes from 2000 until 2022, reaching an all time high of 523.47 Tonnes in the second quarter of 2000 and a record low of 281.58 Tonnes in the first quarter of 2014.

Does Spain produce gold? ›

Spain's gold mine production amounted to 1.4 metric tons in 2021, down from 1.6 tons a year earlier. In the past decade, gold production in the Mediterranean country peaked both in 2013 and 2018, with two metric tons produced each year.

Is there a lot of gold in Spain? ›

Spain's reported gold holdings stood constant at 281.6 tonnes during the period under consideration, from 2014 to 2021.

How strong is Spain's economy? ›

With a GDP of $1.2 billion, Spain is the 4th economy of the EU - save for that of the United Kingdom - and the 14th in the world. Spain is the 13th recipient of foreign investments in the world. More than 14,600 foreign firms have set up their business in Spain.

What cars are made in Spain? ›

The main manufacturers established in the country are Daimler AG (manufacturing plant in Vitoria), Ford (its plant located in Almussafes is Ford's biggest in Europe), Opel (Figueruelas), Nissan (Barcelona), PSA Peugeot Citroen (Vigo), Renault (with plants in Palencia and other Spanish locations), SEAT (Martorell), ...

Who is Spain biggest trading partner? ›

Spain's Top Trading Partners
  • France: US$61.7 billion (16.1% of total Spanish exports)
  • Germany: $39.7 billion (10.3%)
  • Italy: $32.8 billion (8.5%)
  • Portugal: $31.3 billion (8.2%)
  • United Kingdom: $22.2 billion (5.8%)
  • United States: $17.4 billion (4.5%)
  • Belgium: $17.3 billion (4.5%)
  • Netherlands: $14.4 billion (3.7%)
11 Mar 2022

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