Minerals are raw materials essential for modern society. They are used to build roads and houses, and to produce cars, computers, and household appliances. The mining and quarrying industry which extracts these minerals is very important to industrial, social, and technological progress in the EU.
This non-energy extractive industry is usually divided into three main sub-sectors, based on the different characteristics of the minerals, their use, and the downstream industries they supply
EU Economy – in 2006, the industry generated a turnover of about €45 billion and provided about 295,000 jobs.
Downstream users – the construction, chemicals, automotive, aerospace, machinery, and equipment sectors all depend on raw materials. These sectors provide a total value added of about €1.324 billion and employment for 30 million people.
Industrial minerals such as barytes, kaolin, or salt are extracted within the EU to supply a wide range of industries. For some minerals such as magnesite, fluorspar, kaolin, and potash, Europe is among the major global producers. More on industrial minerals.
The EU metallic minerals sector produces a wide range of ores yielding metals or metallic substances. The EU is an important producer of chromium, copper, lead, silver, and zinc.To fully supply the EU metals industry however, most metallic minerals need to be imported. More on metallic minerals.
Most common construction minerals are aggregates (sand, gravel, and crushed natural stone), various brick clays, gypsum, and natural ornamental or dimension stone. The demand for construction minerals is high. The sector mainly consists of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating over 20,000 extraction sites that supply local and regional markets. More on construction minerals.