The country’s most important mineral resources consist of its coal deposits, located in two main areas: one in northeastern Belgium (Campine), the other in the center of the country (Liège, Charleroi and Namur area.). They have been, since the first industrial revolution, the primary source of economic development, but mining is being phased out. In fact, starting from the 1960s, the high cost of mining and the qualitative impoverishment of the extracted material, together with the general conversion of the energy sector in favor of oil, led to the closure of less productive mines. The early nineties marked the almost definitive abandonment of the mining production that so much characterized the Belgian economy and society in the past: the last coal mine in the Meuse-Schelde area was closed in 1992. Only the Campine mines, at a reduced rate, and paradoxically, the need for coal is satisfied with the use of imports. Given the wealth of coal, and on the other hand the scarcity of water resources, the production of electricity is almost entirely of nuclear origin.
The Mol power plants cover two thirds of the national needs. The development of Belgian industry finds its roots in medieval mercantilism and in the resourcefulness of its bourgeoisie, which already in the last centuries of the Middle Ages had started a lively textile craftsmanship in Flanders (in the cities of Ghent, Kortrijk, Brugge), thus preparing the ground for that industrial revolution that in the century. XIX found one of the most favorable lands in Belgium. Naturally, the mineral wealth, the good river navigation routes and the presence of a coast open to the active trade that branched out from the North Sea all over the world contributed to industrial development, in particular in those colonial countries to which Belgium also aimed., conquering the rich and vast territory of the Congo (the role played in the mining exploitation of this country was not secondary in the development of the Belgian economy).
According to allcountrylist, the industrial sector has registered a considerable boost since its origins, acquiring, among other things, a worldwide prestige in the field of metallurgical and mechanical production (especially railway). The development then continued also in the first decades of the century. XX. After the disastrous destruction caused by the two world wars, the national industry has nevertheless been able to recover since the 1950s, focusing on a powerful metallurgical industry that produces copper, lead, zinc and other precious metals, obtained from imported minerals, and on the traditional steel industry. The economy experienced a second alarming crisis following the difficulties of the coal sector, according to a phenomenon that has affected all industrialized states. But the intervention of the government has contributed in a decisive way to its overcoming, both by favoring the modernization of the plants, and by encouraging the opening of new companies with an appropriate industrial incentive policy, even with foreign capital. In fact, despite the economic difficulties of the past decades, Belgium is a highly industrialized country with a very advanced economy. The national mechanical industry specializes in the production of railway material and, to a lesser extent, in shipbuilding; the automotive sector is limited to the assembly of parts, mostly imported. The chemical industries (ammonia, sulphates, fertilizers, synthetic rubber) and petrochemicals, with large refineries in Antwerp and Ghent working imported raw materials (there is no shortage of natural gas fields), and paper (paper for books and newspapers, wallpapers, games, etc.). The electronics, electrical engineering and telecommunications industries are expanding. The textile industry boasts ancient traditions, which produces wool, linen, artificial fibers but is renowned above all in the cotton sector (Ghent), that of clothing, lace and lace (Bruges, Brussels) and those of glass and glassware; Antwerp is one of the world’s leading centers for diamond processing. The relatively less developed food sector includes sugar and vegetable canning factories. In the last thirty years, the percentage of the population employed in industry and the general income of the sector have significantly decreased, a sign of the difficulties connected with industrial reconversion after the crises of recent years. However, the Belgian industry, characterized by a notable diversification of products and a continuous search for technological development, remains highly competitive in the international field.