Mining in Austria
Mining in Austria is an industry on the decline.
After a period of postwar expansion, mineral production has stagnated in recent decades, and metals mining continues to decline, because of high operating costs, increased foreign competition, low ore grades, and environmental problems. All the metal mines in the country were closed, except an iron ore operation at the Erzberg mine (producing 1.8 million tons of iron ore and concentrate in 2000) and a tungsten operation at the Mittersill mine, which was the West’s largest underground tungsten mine. Most of the growth in the mineral resources area was in the production of industrial minerals, the area in which future mining activities will most likely be concentrated, mostly for domestic consumption.
Austria produces 2.5% of the world’s graphite, ranking 10th in the world, and is one of the world’s largest sources of high-grade graphite. In 2000, estimated output was 12,000 metric tons, down from 30,000 metric tons in 1996. The country produces 1.6% of the world’s talc, ranking ninth, with a reported output in 2003 of 137,596 tons of crude talc and soapstone. The country’s only producer of talc, Luzenac Naintsch AG, operated three mines, in the Styria region, and produced a range of talc, chloritic talc, dolomite talc, and chlorite-mica-quartz ores.
Output of other minerals in 2003 output in metric tons, include: limestone and marble, 24,477,000 metric tons; dolomite, 6,079,000 metric tons, for the domestic cement industry, along with calcite and limestone; gypsum and anhydrite, 1,004,000 metric tons; brine salt, 3,422,000 cubic meters (salt mines are owned by the government, with plans to privatize the operations); tungsten, 1,400 tons; pumice (trass), 4,000 tons; and crude kaolin, 100,000 metric tons. Gold production in 2003 was 25 kg. Crude magnesite production was reported at 767,000 metric tons in 2003.
Lignite production has been declining since 1963. In 2003, lignite production totaled 1,152,000 metric tons. Production of bituminous coal declined steadily after World War II, and in 1968 ceased altogether.