Germany: Mining, Minerals and Fuel Resources

Germany, with a total population of 82,271,189 as of May 2018, based on the latest United Nations estimates. The population in Germany is equivalent to 1.08% of the total world population. Germany has the 17th largest population in the world. Population density in Germany is 236 per km2 (611 people per mi2).

Germany is located in Central Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, between the Netherlands and Poland, to the south of Denmark. Germany covers a total land area of 348,560 km2 and has temperate and marine climates.

The national flag of Germany.
The national flag of Germany.
Image Credit: CIA Factbook

The German unification in 1990 led the German economy becoming the fifth largest economy in the world. Germany recovered from the 2008-2009 recession mainly by taking in manufacturing orders and exports from outside the Eurozone.

At present, Germany is Europe's largest and strongest economy. Concerning GDP, it ranks as the fourth largest economy in the world at $3.42 trillion. Germany's GDP per capita is $49,814.

Germany's economy is supported by its well-known technology, automobiles, domestic equipment and chemical exports. However, it faces various challenges in the coming years, ranging from Brexit to the refugee crisis.

As a result of the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, Germany made plans to immediately shut down eight of its nuclear reactors and shut down the remaining nine reactors by 2022, thus aiming to rely more on renewable energy instead of nuclear power in the future.

Overview of Resources

The key natural resources of Germany include timber, natural gas, coal, lignite, uranium, iron ore, arable land, construction materials, potash, nickel, salt, and copper.

Globally, the country is:

  • A leading producer of lignite.
  • The second largest producer of refined selenium.
  • The third largest producer of kaolin.
  • The fourth largest producer of sulfur.
  • The fifth largest producer of potash.
  • The sixth largest producer of refined copper.
  • The seventh largest producer of crude steel.

Germany plays a vital role in the metal manufacturing and processing sector. It is one of the largest sectors in the country, covering the steel and iron, non-ferrous metal, and foundry industries. About 43 million tons of raw steel is produced annually in Germany, making the country the largest steel producer, consumer, importer, and exporter in Europe. The metal industry in Germany produces countless intermediate and finished metal products, ranging from basic processing of raw materials.

Germany is the world’s second-largest steel importer of steel to the date September 2017. Germany imported 20.8 million metric tons of steel, a 6% increase from 19.5 million metric tons in the year2016. Germany’s imports represented about 7% of all steel imported worldwide in 2016. The volume of Germany’s 2016 steel imports was just over 4 million metric tons less than that of the world’s largest importer, the United States. Germany imports steel from over 130 countries and territories.

Industrial Minerals

Mining production in Germany decreased by 10% in March of 2018. Mining production in Germany averaged -3.43% from 1992 until 2018, reaching an all-time high of 46.6% in March of 2007, and a record low of -30.4% in February of 2010.

There was 3.2% increase in industrial production in Germany in March of 2018. Industrial production in Germany averaged 1.6% from 1979 until 2018, reaching an all-time high of 15.3% in December of 2010 and a record low of -21.8% in April of 2009.

Germany’s overall industrial output in 2010 accounted for almost 21% of the GDP. In 2010, the country was estimated to have produced about 1% of the world’s total output of barite, aluminum, refined cadmium, gallium, cement, feldspar, natural gypsum, indium, iron oxide pigments, crude iron, lime, magnesium compounds, industrial quartz, nitrogen, zinc metal, and silica.

In 2010, the mineral processing sector in Germany produced about 5% of the world’s total output of fused aluminum oxide, magnesium metal, alumina, rhenium metal, titanium dioxide pigments, strontium compounds, and graphite.

Metals

In 2009, Germany’s metal processing sector contributed about 3% to its GDP. In 2010, the metal sector experienced a tremendous decrease in production of secondary metals due to a simultaneous decline in the availability of scrap metals in comparison with the imported concentrates and ores.

A comparison of the country’s contribution to total secondary metals production in the world in 2009 and 2010 is given below:

  • Secondary aluminum production accounted for 60% in 2010 and 66% in 2009.
  • Secondary smelter copper production accounted for 36% in 2010 and 46% in 2009.
  • Secondary refined copper production accounted for 43% in 2010 and 57% in 2009.
  • Secondary refined lead production accounted for 69% in 2010 and 73% in 2009.

The map of Germany.

The map of Germany. Image Credit: CIA Factbook

In 2014, Germany’s demand for iron ore was covered exclusively through imports - 43 Mt of iron ore was imported in 2014; an increase of 6.5% from the previous year. More than half of the iron ore in that year came from Brazil, and the rest came from Canada and Sweden.

Also in 2014, crude steel production increased by approximately 0.7%, reaching 42.9 Mt. Approximately two-thirds of this steel was made using the oxygen steelmaking process in integrated mills. The remaining third was developed in electric arc furnaces using steel scrap. Germany’s steel industry revenues totalled $50.28 billion for 2014. In the same year, Germany ranked seventh in world steel production, accounting for a total of 2.6% of world production.

Fossil Fuels

In 2014, the most significant increases and decreases in mineral fuel production and related materials, included:

  • Uranium Concentrate increased by 22%
  • Residual fuel oil increased by 16%
  • Coke increased by 12%
  • Liquefied Petroleum Gas decreased by 12%
  • Crude Petroleum, Naphtha, & Petroleum Coke decreased by 9% each
  • Associated Natural Gas descreased by 8%
  • Dry Natural Gas decreased by 5%

In 2016, approximately 91 million tonnes of crude oil was imported in Germany. The most important supplier country is Russia, accounting for just under 40% of the country’s crude-oil imports last year. In 2016, approximately 22.4 million tonnes of crude oil were imported from Norway and the EU Member States – a figure that corresponds to less than a quarter of Germany’s crude oil imports. In 2016 Germany contributed around 40 percent to global crude oil production and accounted for more than 70% of global conventional and non-conventional crude oil reserves.

Investment

In June 2012, Germany’s industrial production decreased to such an extent that it shook up the country’s economy. The construction output declined by 2% and the manufacturing output declined by 1%.

The country plans over the next few years to increase lignite production from 2012 onwards, through its new power plant in Neurath.

In 2014, the most valuable mineral commodities in Germany were related to energy production. The value of coal production (lignite and bituminous), crude petroleum, natural and petroleum gas, and peat reached $17.94 billion in 2014. Potash production in Germany was priced at $1.05 billion; lime, $739 million; rock salt, $732 million; and sulfur, $105 million.

Sand and gravel were also a significant mineral commodity with a total production of 248 million metric tons, as was natural broken stone and lignite.

Germany’s industrial production sector will thus see many changes in the near future, which will increase the production of minerals and metals and will likely boost the country’s mining industry.

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 24th May, 2018.

G.P. Thomas

Written by

G.P. Thomas

Gary graduated from the University of Manchester with a first-class honours degree in Geochemistry and a Masters in Earth Sciences. After working in the Australian mining industry, Gary decided to hang up his geology boots and turn his hand to writing. When he isn't developing topical and informative content, Gary can usually be found playing his beloved guitar, or watching Aston Villa FC snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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