Belgium Economic Conditions – Mining

According to findjobdescriptions, Belgium is lucky to copy the mining treasures it offers to every industry: coal, iron, pyrites, manganese, magnesia, alum, sulfur, building stones, marbles, etc. First in importance is coal, of which Belgium gives more than any other country in the world if the product is compared to the surface of the state. There are two production areas, the long-fruiting one of Sambre and Meuse, and the one exploited only by Campine since 1917. The first stretches from the French border to the West of Mons, through the provinces of Hainaut and Liège along the Haine tributary of the Scheldt, then along Sambre and Meuse, in two sections separated by a very short interval, together 170 km long. and with a width of 3 to 17; of the two sections, the easternmost, which has Liège as its center, is of somewhat lesser importance; the westernmost, from the district of Borinage to the West of Mons up to Charleroi and Namur, it gives three quarters of the entire product and has the deepest wells, some even up to 1200 m. The other coal area, that of the Campine, extending over a length of 75 km and a width of 14 to 16, has been exploited for much less time, because the mineral is hidden there at great depth. Throughout Belgium the product today (1926) rises to 25,260,000 tonnes, but overall – except in the Charleroi area and in the Campine – there is a shortage of gas and coke coals; of the total it supplies 7 and a half million tons. the Charleroi area, more than 5 million Liège, almost 5 million Mons, almost 5 Namur, almost 2 la Campine. The whole treasure of coal hidden in the subsoil is estimated at 11,000 million tons, 8000 of which in the Campine.

The iron, still produced in copy a few decades ago from the villages along the Sambre and the Meuse, and the zinc, already abundantly given along the Meuse from the mines of the Vieille Montagne near Moresnet, no more than in very small quantities come out of the deposits almost exhausted, so the steel and zinc industries continue to flourish in the same area of ​​the Meuse with minerals imported from outside. The excavations of other metals are of lesser importance, of which only manganese is in progress. Marbles are given from several localities, especially the so-called Belgian marble – a beautiful dark blue limestone – found in the northern slopes of the Ardennes; the most celebrated is in Dinant and its surroundings; the red porphyry of Lessines is highly sought after, also in France and England, and is very suitable for paving; freestone quarries are also along the Dendre and Senne valleys. The best grinding stones in Europe are in Liège and Luxembourg (Vielsalm).

The abundance of minerals essential for industrial life – together with the other factor of the geographical position in a land and sea area of ​​easy trade between countries of very intense economic activity and, on the other hand, the possibility of producing at a relatively low price thanks to the abundance and cheapness of labor, the length of the working day, the copying of available capital – all these factors together explain the momentum with which Belgium has benefited from the successful extractive industries, developing and bringing metallurgy to the highest point and alongside it numerous other industrial activities of all kinds. Thus, inside and alongside the numerous centers of the “black country”, blast furnaces were built, initially fueled by Belgian iron, today 98% of foreign ore (the first Cockerill coke furnace was built in 1823 in Seraing near Liège, then the others especially around Liège and in the Charleroi area: production of cast iron in 1926 tons. 3,368,000, of crude steel almost as much). Metallurgy has therefore turned to every most varied iron processing industry, especially in Charleroi and more in Liège: railway material, machines, engines, equipment of all kinds, and weapons, a famous workmanship of Liège since the eighteenth century, they then became absolutely universal in fame and dominion (but severely affected in their trade by the war and after the war). Zinc, also today – like iron – almost entirely imported from abroad, is processed in Belgium, especially in Liege, in such a quantity as to count for a third of all world production, of which the company of the Vieille Montagne really has the dominion (production of raw zinc from the 15 foundries, 189,000 tons in 1926, pre-war 205,000 in 1913). Chemical industries are also flourishing, since the first Solvay workshop for the production of soda was born in Charleroi in 1865, followed by all the other processes – ammonia, sulfuric acid, chemical fertilizers – linked to the distillation of coal. The glass industry is of great fame, queen of Belgian industries, served by workers who are perhaps the first in the world, centered around Charleroi, with 56 glass and mirror manufacturing plants, and in Liège with a refined production of glassware (exported in 1925 212,000 tons of glass in sheets).

Belgium Economic Conditions - Mining