France Mineral Resources and Industry

According to, the French territory is not rich in mineral resources in proportion to its extension, especially energy ones. The presence of discrete deposits of coal and above all of iron was in the past centuries the basis of the industrialization process that, already underway in the nineteenth century, made France, albeit with a certain delay compared to Great Britain and Germany, one of the largest industrial countries in Europe. The coal was extracted essentially in two large basins, that of Nord-Pas-de-Calais and that of Lorraine, therefore in much smaller fields, generically designated as Center-Midi. Since the seventies of the last century, coal production has suffered a serious crisis due to the competitiveness of oil, despite the fact that in the immediate post-war period the entire sector, nationalized and placed under the administration of the Charbonnages de France, had been extensively reorganized. This crisis proved irreversible in the following decades, so much so that, despite the desire to support local economies, in May 2004 the last still active mine was also closed, and for the Charbonnages de France it is expected to close by 2008, once the conversion of the mining sites has been completed. The extraction of iron minerals is also continuously and sharply decreasing. Discrete successes are beginning to be obtained from oil exploration; The situation is also satisfactory for natural gas, which is extracted mainly from the Pyrenean area, especially from the Lacq field, where it is associated with oil, and from where a dense network of gas pipelines radiates throughout the country. Among the other minerals, bauxite, extracted mainly in the Midi, in Baux, Brignoles, etc., and uranium, of which France is one of the largest producers in the world, occupy a good place. There are also large potash deposits, located in Alsace; modest quantities of lignite are also extracted. Finally, there are more or less consistent deposits of gold, antimony, lead, tungsten, vanadium, zinc. The production of salt is also noteworthy. The total production of electricity is adequate for internal needs, a small part supplied by the Alpine, Pyrenean and Massif Central rivers, and for the rest of nuclear origin. Nuclear power plants alone produce 75% of the energy needed for internal consumption; they are fueled not only by national uranium but also by minerals imported largely from the former African colonies. In this sector, France, with its numerous plants (Marcoule, Avoine, Chinon, Fessenheim, Saint-Laurent-des-Eaux, etc.), is clearly at the forefront in Europe.

The option towards the nuclear energy source has been particularly strong since the 1970s and has led to the gradual reduction of dependence on conventional thermoelectric sources, whose production plants, still located mainly in the North and in the Paris region, they were originally linked to the proximity of the coal mines, which were then largely replaced by imported fuel oil. In 1998, the closure of a large plant in Creys-Malville was initiated. A pilot function, as far as alternative sources are concerned, has been taking over the Rance power station (Côtes-d’Armor) for some decades now, which uses the energy supplied by the tides. The industry has now consolidated its key position in the French economy, making a decisive contribution to exports. A traditionally prominent role is played by the steel and metallurgical industries. The steel industry, originally located on iron basins (Lorraine), and in the northern coal basin, has undergone, steel, cast iron and ferroalloys. The metallurgical sector includes a very wide range of products, starting with aluminum whose major plants, based on the transformation of national bauxite, exploit the hydroelectric energy of the Pyrenean and Alpine regions. France also has a good European position for copper metallurgyand even more so than lead, zinc, as well as cadmium, magnesium and tin. The oil refining industry is also developed, with large factories in the lower Seine region, at the mouth of the Rhone, on the Gironde, etc.: the location near the coasts is a consequence of the importation of crude network of oil pipelines has allowed the installation of refineries also in the interior of the country. Technologically advanced in every field are the mechanical and electromechanical industries, spread almost everywhere. The industries of means of transport, machines and engines, traditionally concentrated in the Paris area, were partly decentralized in the 1970s, especially in Franche-Comté, Maine-et-Loire, Brittany, Lyon and the Rhône basin., as well as in the old industrial areas of the North and East. This is a sector that counts companies of great prestige and operates in the automotive, railway, weapons, machinery and industrial and agricultural vehicles sectors. France ranks at the top of the world scale for the production of passenger cars and industrial vehicles (Peugeot, Renault, Citroën). Largely related is the thriving rubber industry, headquartered in Clermont-Ferrand. The other industries are numerous and diversified, from electronics to precision mechanics and household appliances, whose main centers are located in the Parisian, Lyon, Loire and Rhône areas.

The shipbuilding sector has undergone great downsizing, subject to strong international competition: in second place in the world (after Japan) in 1979, today France is overtaken by various European countries despite the crisis that equally affects them. The main shipyards are located in Saint-Nazaire, on the Loire estuary, and in La Ciotat, near Marseille. The aeronautical industry is technologically very advanced, both in the civil aviation sector (the construction, in collaboration with the British industry, of the Concorde supersonic aircraft, whose flights were interrupted in 2003, dates back to the 1960s) and in the of military aviation, with the well-known Mirages; the factories are concentrated in the suburbs of Paris and in the South-West of the country (Toulouse, Bordeaux, etc.); the missile industry is also present. The textile industry occupies a prominent place, with ancient traditions, although, as a bit throughout Europe, the sector has to face recurring crises, essentially due to the decrease in commercial outlets due to strong competition from various Third Countries. World. The main French textile regions are the North (Lille – Roubaix – Tourcoing area etc.), East (Mulhouse, Belfort etc.) and the area around Lyon; in the former, in addition to a fair production of linen, wool processing prevails, albeit in sharp decline; the cotton industry is mainly concentrated in the East. Finally, in the Lyon area, alongside the traditional silk factory, an industry that is still flourishing even if it is clearly less, the production of artificial and synthetic fibers is in great expansion. The clothing sector is important, especially for women, both for mass production and for the creations of Parisian haute couture, a sector that constitutes a point of reference on a world scale. Lyon is also, together with Paris, one of the main centers of the chemical industry, also widespread in the North, and which constitutes one of the most dynamic sectors of the French economy: mergers and concentrations have created large companies, some of a multinational nature, able to stand up to foreign giants, especially US and German. The productions of sulfuric acid, which partly uses national pyrites and partly imported sulfur, both flat and hollow or special glass, both potassium and nitrogen fertilizers, plastics and synthetic resins, dyes, pharmaceutical products, etc. The remarkable agricultural development allows France to develop a wide range of food industries, from the aforementioned sugar and dairy canneries to milling complexes, oil mills, etc., whose products are partly exported. The major companies, especially in the 1980s, achieved a strong international projection, pursued through acquisitions of European companies. Equally consistent are, in addition to the aforementioned wine production, the beer and tobacco industries. Various and also active for export, the leather industries (footwear, leather goods, gloves), paper (in general all the productions connected to forestry exploitation), toys, cement and bricks, to which a cutting-edge prefabrication industry in Europe is connected. Various other products are also internationally renowned: perfumes in the Nice area; porcelains of Limoges and Sèvres, crystals and mirrors from Baccarat, jewels, liqueurs, soaps, furniture, ebony objects etc.

France Mineral Resources

You may also like...