1902 Encyclopedia > Germany > Germany - Mines and Minerals

(Part 4)


Mines and Minerals

Germany abounds in useful minerals, and in consequence takes a high place among industrial states. The production falls short, indeed, of that of England, but bears comparison with that of France and of the United States. The last annual report of the imperial statistical office (for the year 1876) classified the mineral produce of Germany under the following heads:—


The general value of the production has increased considerably during the ten years ending 1876, as will be seen by the following table:—


The metals extracted from ores in 1876 were thus classified:—


Coal.—Coal-mining appears to have been first practised in the 14th century, at Zwickau (Saxony), and on the Ruhr. The production, which certainly did not exceed 500,000 tons in 1800, has vastly increased during the last thirty years, as may be seen from the following table (which doest not include lignite):—


There are six large coal-fields, occupying an area of about 3600 square miles, of which the most important occupies the basin of the Ruhr, its extent being estimated at 2800 square miles. Here there are more than 60 beds, or a total thickness of 150 to 200 feet of coal; and the amount in the pits has been estimated at 45,000 millions of tons, so that the basin, at the present rate at 17,500,000 tons raised per annum, would not be exhausted in 2000 years. Smaller fields are found near Osnabrück, Ibbenbüren, and Minden, and a larger one near Aix-la-Chapelle. The Saar coal-field, within the area enclosed by the rivers Saar, Nahe, and Blies (460 square miles), is one of great importance. The thickness of 80 beds amounts to 250 feet, and von Dechen estimates the total mass of coal at 45,400 million tons. The greater part of the basin belongs to Prussia, the rest to Lorraine. A still larger filed exists in the Upper Silesian basin, on the border-land between Austria and Poland, containing about 50,000 million tons. Beuthen is the chief centre. The Silesian coal-fields have a second centre in Waldenburg, east of the Riesengebirge. The Saxon coal-fields stretch eastwards for some miles from Zwickau. Deposits of less consequence are found in upper Bavaria, Upper Franconia, Baden, in the Harz, &c.


The above tables do not include lignite, of which numerous beds are scattered over Germany. Extensive strata follow the course of the Oder, and a second group is spread over Lusatia, but the largest and most important deposit is in the Saale districts from Altenburg to the Harz. Smaller fields are situated round Cassel, northward of Frankfort, near Cologne and Aix-la-Chapelle, in the west of Hanover, and in the Upper Palatinate. The total production is stated in the official returns at 11,100,000 tons, representing a value of £1,922,000. Of this 8,780,000 tons are supplied by the fields in the Saale districts (province of Saxony, Anhalt, Brunswick, Saxe-Altenburg, and kingdom of Saxony). In North Germany turf also is of importance as a fuel; the area of the turf moors in Prussia is estimated at 8000 square miles, of which more than 2000 re in the north of Hanover. The coal produced supplies the home demand, although a considerable trade is carried on across the frontier. Through the ports of the North Sea and the Baltic more than 2 million tons of coals are imported annually from England, and nearly 2 _ million tons of lignite come from Bohemia. On the other hand, the Ruhr and the Saar basins export nearly 3 million tons of coal to the Netherlands, France, and Switzerland, and the Upper Silesian basis 1 2/3 millions to Austria and Russia. The following table gives a comparative view of the quantity supplied by the more important coal-producing countries in 1876—


Graphite is produced only in Lower Bavaria; the total amount in 1876 was 20,104 cwts., value £2090. Asphalt occurs near Hanover, in Brunswick, and in Alsace; total production in 1876, 720,000 cwts., value £15,300. Petroleum is found in limited quantity near Lüneburg, and in Alsace.

Iron Ore.—Germany abounds in iron ores, some of which are of superior quality. The production increased rapidly for a time, but in recent years there has been a very great decline.

About 35 per cent, is brown iron ore, 25 per cent. spathic iron ore, 25 per cent. spahic iron, 18 per cent. black band, and 10 per cent. red iron ore. The rest consist of clay-ironstone, bog-iron ore (in the northern lowland), and magnetic ores. Unfortunately but few mines are found in proximity to coal-pits, and important ore-deposits of great extent are far from coal, as, for instance, the iron districts of Nassau, of the Sieg valley, and of Hesse, Thuringia, Lorraine, Bavaria, and Würtemberg.


Ores free of phosphorus, suitable for the manufacture of Bessemer pig-iron, are also vet scarce.

The following table shows the number and production of furnaces in blast in 1876:—


The iron manufacture has not been in a thriving condition since 1873; the total number of furnaces in Germany in 1876 was 435,—225 in blast as above, and 210 blown out. The following table shows the progress of pig-iron production, including castings:—


Since the incorporation of Lorraine with the German empire the pig-iron production of Germany exceeds that of France. The following table shows the comparative increase in those countries, as well as in Great Britain and the United States:—


Iron Industry.—While the produce of pig-iron has thus been advancing, similar progress appears in the iron industry, in some branches of which Germany has already emancipated herself from dependence on England. During the last few years, it is true, this trade has suffered severely from the overproduction of 1872 and 1873, as may be seen from the following table, showing the quantities and values of worked pig-iron in 1872 and 1876:—


The greatest advance has been made in the production of steel. In 1863 the quantity was only 1,400,000 cwts., but in 1872 it was about 6,500,000. The greater part of this is produced at the celebrated works of Krupp in Essen and the cast-steel works in Bochum. Many European states have for a considerable time been supplied by Krupp with cast-steel guns. The production of rails not only covers the home demand, but has allowed an annual exportation of 3,000,000 cwts. since 1877. Hardware also, the production of which is centered in Solingen, Heilbronn, Esslingen, &c., is largely exported. Germany stands second to Great Britain in the manufacture of machines and engines. There are in many large cities of North Germany extensive limited to the large cities. It must be admitted that in agricultural machinery Germany cannot as yet compete with England. The locomotives and wagons for the German railways, however, are almost exclusively built in Germany; and Russia, as well as Austria, receives large supplies of railway plant from German works. In shipbuilding likewise Germany is becoming independent of England; and dockyards have been erected on the coast for the construction of large ironclads.

Silver and Gold.—Germany produces more silver than any other European state, and the quantity is annually increasing. Silver and gold are extracted from the ores in the mines of Freiberg (Saxony) and near the Harz; but silver is also refined form lead and copper ores in Upper Silesia, Merseburg, Aix-la-Chapelle, Wiesbaden, and Arnsberg. The gold0mining is of far less importance. The value of silver produced was, in 1867, £791,370, 1873, £1,539,590; 1876, £1,098,470; and that of gold, 1867, £11,750; 1876, £39,234.

Lead.—The quantity of the lead produced allows Germany to export from 300,000 to 400,0000 cwts. annually. Nearly half the produce is obtained near Aix-la-Chapelle (651,273 cwts. in 1876), next come Upper Silesia (265,000 cwts.), Harz (176,550 cwts.), Nassau (143,770 cwts.), Saxony, Arnsberg, &c. The value in 1867 was only £898,140; but in 1876, £1,565,280; the quantity was 987,090 cwts. in 1867, and 1,512,000 cwts. in 1876.

Copper.—Although Germany yields more copper than any other European state, the native supply does not meet the demand. In recent years more than 200,000 cwts. have been imported. The Harz mountains and their environs (Mansfeld) alone produce five-sixths of the whole amount, which has been doubled during the ten years ending 1876:—1867, 77,440 cwts., value £312,750; 1876, 168,430 cwts., value £641,750.

Zinc.—About 90 per cent, of the zinc produced in Europe is yielded by Belgium and Germany. The exportation from the latter amounts to more than half a million of cwts. per annum. The production doubled during the period from 1850 (620,000 cwts.) to 18620, but has made only slow progress since that time. In 1867 it was only 1,277,000 cwts., value about £600,000; in 1876, 1,664,500, value cwts., value about £600,000; in 1876, 1,664,500 value £1,740,600. 70 per cent. is produced in Upper Silesia in the niegbourhood of Beuthen, the rest in Westphalia and the Rhineland.

Salt.—Germany possesses abundant salt deposits. The actual production not only covers the home consumptions, but also allows a yearly increasing exportation, especially to Russia, Austria, and Scandinavia. In 1877-78 there were 77 salt works in operation, 8 of which were mining works for rock-salt. The provinces of Saxony and Handover, with Thuringia and Anghalt, have 28 works, and produce half the whole amount. A large work is found at Strzalkowo (Posen), and smaller ones near Dortmund, Lippstadt, and Minden (Westphalia). In South Germany salt abounds most in Würtemberg (Hall, Heilbronn, Rottweil); the principal Bavarian works are at the foot of the Alps near Freilassing and Rosenheim. Hesse and Baden have 6 salt works; Lorraine and the Upper Palatinate, 6. The total yield now amounts to 8,318,000 cwts. boiled salt, 3,221,000 cwts. rock-salt, and 256,000 cwts. of other kinds. The production has made great advance during the last thirty years, having in 1850 been only 5 millions cwts., while in 1877 it was upwards of 11 million cwts.

Chloride of Potash—A considerable amount of this substance is turned out by 15 works in Anhalt, where only the potash ores care found. The production there is 1876 was 846,000 cwts., value about £250,000.


FOOTNOTE (page 452)

1 1 centner or 50 kilogrammes=110·23 pounds= 0·9851 cwt. In round numbers the centner is taken as equivalent to the cwt., and the metric ton to the English ton; the exact value of the latter, however, is 19·702 cwts., or 0·9851 tons. £1 is taken as 20 marks: the values given are therefore too large by 2·15 per cent.

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