Why raw materials production is essential for the German economy

One of the cornerstones of economic activity, the raw materials industry (known as the “primary sector”), has existed since the dawn of history. Raw materials are essential for a sustainable economy – without them there would be no industry, services, IT, steel or energy.

The raw materials industry is also an important building block of the German economy. This country not only has knowledge and expertise to offer, but also resources which lie deep beneath the Earth’s surface. Germany is essentially a raw materials producer, even after the decision to cease subsidised mining of hard coal at the end of 2018. A considerable portion of the approximately 1,100 tonnes of energy, metal and mineral raw materials consumed during a German citizen’s lifetime is produced in Germany. We are one of the world’s largest producers of lignite, kaolin, rock and potash salts, and we can even meet our own demand for sand, gravel, clay, limestone and gypsum. Germany is an international leader and highly respected in the area of mining technology and know-how.

Unfortunately, the fact that we have our own raw material reserves is insufficiently anchored in the German public consciousness. Many people eat their Sunday rolls and boiled eggs without realising that the products used to make the rolls do not come from the baker but from the fields and that the salt they put on their eggs is usually obtained by a costly mining process. It is therefore necessary to point out the advantages of domestic raw material reserves – not only do they mean that we do not have to rely on imports so much, they also provide many thousands of jobs, including in structurally weak regions, and in some cases even constitute major exports. With 200,000 people employed in more than 6,000 businesses, which together generate revenues of approximately € 43 billion, the raw materials industry makes a considerable contribution to Germany’s economic figures. In fact up to six million people are employed in the entire raw materials value chain, from extraction to finished product. For these reasons, Germany needs to pursue a policy which secures domestic raw materials production in the long term. Exploiting raw materials reserves and new projects are essential for the continued success of the German economy .