By Julia Pastor, in Madrid | One year ago, the European Union approved a four-year extension from 2014 to 2018 for the loss-making coal mining sector subsidies, which affected some Spanish working mines. Even though the Spain’s Secretary of State for the EU Diego López Garrido considered then
“ it was good news for the whole of the Spanish mining industry, especially for coal mining,”
the truth is that the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade itself admits in its web page that
“the amount of raw materials that the Spanish mining industry can sell is decreasing, as well as the number of working mines and employees.” However, the Ministry also points out that “the metal mining is having a boost thanks to findings of new deposits, mainly of copper, nickel and wolfram.”
Now, a news report appeared on Sunday in the business daily Expansion mentions the existence of
“a metal mining boom parallel to the ruinous business of coal”.
The article refers to the eight mining projects that are currently running in Spain or about to run, all of them driven by big foreign multinationals listed in Canada, Australia, Ireland or Israel’s Stock Exchange. Most of the projects are taking place in Andalusia (in the areas of Seville and Huelva), where Canadian companies such as Inmet or Lundin, and Emed Mining, a firm based in Cyprus but listed in London, are searching for copper, lead and zinc.
But, this is not the only region favoured for metal prospection in Spain. The Australian company Berkeley is interested in the uranium of Salamanca, and the Canadian Astur Gold in recovering the gold that the Romans left in the area of Salave (Asturias), while the Israeli ICL is working in the potassium deposits near Manresa (Barcelona) and Lundin is mining for nickel in Badajoz (region of Extremadura).
One of the most interesting projects of this ‘mining boom’ is the re-opening of the Rio Tinto Mining exploitation, which was closed in 2000 because of low copper prices. However, this metal current prices signal there is a profitable exploitation for at least the next 14 years, according Emed Tartessus, the Spanish company created by Emed Mining to restart the activity at Rio Tinto.
Corina Hebestreit, managing director of Euromines, one of the most influential lobbys of the European mining sector, recently commented that
“the EU’s indicators show the Iberian Pyrite Belt (the geographical area with particular geological features that stretches along the south of the Iberian Peninsula, from Portugal to Spain, and where the Rio Tinto Mining is located) as one of the biggest and more powerful metal producing regions in the world. That involves a big business opportunity considering that Emed Mining works will be extended for ten years. Rio Tinto is already a well exploited mining and one of the most important reserves in the EU. Its capacity doubles what it has been extracted up to today.”