About the Region

Andalusia is an autonomous community in southern Spain. It is bordering with the autonomous communities of Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha in the north; with the autonomous community of Murcia and the Mediterranean Sea in the west; with Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean in the east; and with the Mediterranean Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar in the south.

With its more than 8 million inhabitants, Andalusia is the most populous autonomous community in Spain and the second largest in terms of area, representing more than 17% of the total country area. The capital of the region is the city of Seville.

Andalusia has traditionally been an agricultural region but the service sector, in particular tourism, retail sales and transportation, now predominates. However, the primary sector remains important in the region, with subsectors such as agriculture, fishing, forestry and mining. Andalusia is the second largest aerospace region in Spain and the region has a well-established food sector that in 2014 employed around 220,000 people and generated revenues of around €13 billion. The Andalusian biotechnology sector has experienced significant growth over the past years and the geographic location and climate has enabled the region to become one of Europe’s main locations for the development of renewable energies.

 

The Mining and Metallurgy Industry

Andalusia represents around 24% of the total value of mining production in Spain. The regional mining sector in Andalusia is focused in four sub-sectors: metallic mining, industrial minerals, natural stone and aggregates.

The aggregate exploitations are scattered throughout the territory of the region and the production is depending on the demand from the building sector, which currently is increasing at a moderate speed. The region also produces industrial minerals, such as silica sands, strontium and dolomite. Andalusia is the primary producer of gypsum in Europe with around 7 million tons per year. Most of the natural stone activity is carried out between the provinces of Almería and Granada, with e.g. marble being mined in the Macael area in the Almería province.

Most of the metal mining activities can be found in the Andalusian western sector, between the provinces of Seville and Huelva, or along the Iberian Pyrite Belt. Today, there are many exploration permits with a more than 20M€ per year estimated investment. Companies like First Quantum Minerals, Trafigura, Grupo Mexico, Glencore and Freeport-McMoran are exploring metallic minerals in Andalusia.

MINERAL RESOURCES IN THE REGION

MINERAL DEPOSITS

Andalusia has five active metallic mines producing copper cathodes, copper concentrates and lead concentrates. The Aguas Teñidas, Magdalena and Sotiel mines are exploited by MATSA; the Riotinto mine is exploited by Atalaya Mining; and the Cobre Las Cruces mine is operated by First Quantum Company. These five mines produce 72,000 tons of metal copper annually and 700,000 tons yearly of concentrates of copper 78%, zinc 20%, and lead 2%. The Aznalcollar mine, operated by Grupo Mexico, is currently carrying out extensive research to consolidate the significant reserves of zinc, copper, lead and silver remaining in this deposit and to increase its resources. The mine is involved in the permitting process which is expected to be completed by 2019. Regarding the metallurgy sector, there is a copper smelting and refinery in Huelva which processes the concentrates from the Grasberg mine in Indonesia and which produces 300,000 tons of copper metal annually. Another metallurgy plant in Los Barrios (Cádiz) is a stainless-steel smelting and processing plant that annually produces 1 million tons of stainless steel from scrap iron. The plant will also start to process concentrates from the mines in the Iberian Pyrite Belt. The Cobre las Cruces mine also manages a hydrometallurgy process plant.

ACTIVE MINES IN THE REGION

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No. 776811 — H2020-SC5-2017.