Switzerland: Mining, Minerals and Fuel Resources

Topics Covered

Welcome to Switzerland
Overview of Resources
Metals
Industrial Minerals and Gemstones
Fossil Fuels
Investment
Sources

Welcome to Switzerland

Switzerland is located in Central Europe with France to the west and Italy to the south. The total area of the country is 41,277 km2 with a population of 7,925,517 as of July 2012. The country has a temperate climate, which varies based on altitude.

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

Switzerland has a wealthy modern market economy with a highly skilled labor force and a per capita GDP that is one of the highest in the world. Its GDP as of 2011 was $344.2 billion. The country is strongly committed to remaining a neutral entity and has not joined the European Union (EU).

Overview of Resources

Switzerland’s financial services and manufacturing sector play a major role in the country’s economy while the mining sector is not a very significant factor. Cement, gypsum, and lime were produced in the country in 2010.

The map of Switzerland. Image Credit: CIA Factbook

Metals

Novelis Switzerland S.A. was a leading producer of aluminum rolled products in the world and was the top producer of rolled products in Europe in 2010. The company produced about 19% of the flat-rolled aluminum products in the world. In the same year, Novelis made plans to invest $11.3 million in its aluminum plant at Sierre so as to meet the increasing demand for aluminum sheet.

In 2010, Schmelzmetall AG was the leading producer of copper-based high-performance alloys in the EU.

Although Switzerland does not mine gold, it houses many refineries, namely, Cendres+Métaux S.A. refinery at Biel-Bienne, Argor-Heraus S.A. refinery at Mendrisio, Valcambi S.A. refinery at Balerna, and Produits Artistiques de Métaux Précieux S.A. refinery at Castel San Pietro.

Switzerland relies on scrap steel as a significant source of raw material. Nearly 1 million Mt/yr of scrap steel was collected in 2010 via scrap processors, collection points, and traders.

Industrial Minerals and Gemstones

Holcim (Schweiz) AG was a top supplier of cement and the leading cement, gravel, and concrete producer in Switzerland in 2010. The company owns seven cement plants and grinding units with a production capacity of 4.3 Mt/yr. It also produces ready-mix concrete and asphalt.

In the same year, Saline de Bex S.A. (Selbex) was involved in extraction and production of salt, and produced about 30,000 t of salt in a year. The salt was used mainly for winter road maintenance. The remaining salt was divided among water treatment (6,000 t), human consumption (3 t) and animal feed (2.5 t) based on requirement.

Salt has been mined in Switzerland for centuries. The salt deposits at Bex were discovered in the 15th century and are mined even today.

Fossil Fuels

According to reports, Switzerland did not produce any natural gas in 2010. It mostly relied on imports to meet its energy requirements.

Tamoil (Suisse) S.A.’s Collombey petroleum refinery, which is located in the Canton of Valais, produced 2.7 Mt/yr of petroleum products.

The Cressier refinery owned by Petroplus Refining Cressier S.A. produced 68,000 barrels per day in 2010. The diesel and gasoline production from this refinery met the mandatory 10 parts per million (ppm) sulfur limit laid down by the EU.

Investment

Switzerland’s competitive and progressive economy can be attributed to factors such as low unemployment rate, economic and political stability, exceptional infrastructure, efficient capital markets, and a transparent legal system. However, the country’s mining industry is almost non-existent due to lack of resources that can be mined cost-effectively and its stringent sustainable mining policies that ban most metal mining activities.

Recently, gold had been discovered in the Medel Valley, but the villages in that region have voted in a referendum this April against any mining activity there due to environmental concerns. The Canadian company, NV Gold, that had planned to explore this reserve claims that the estimated worth of the gold would be about $1.2 billion and it had hoped to be the operators of Switzerland's first gold mine.

Switzerland’s mineral industry is likely to remain the same in the coming years with limited mining activities being carried out based on domestic demand. Experts also feel that the country is most likely to not pursue metal mining actively in the near future.

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

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

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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