Dominican Republic - Mining
Mineral production has stagnated since a slump began in the mid-1980s. In 2000, mining accounted for 2% of GDP, which grew by 7.8%. Mining increased by 9.2%, stimulated by higher output and a higher average price of nickel, the country's most important mineral. Ferronickel was the country's leading export commodity and third-leading industry. In 2000, nickel production was 39,943 tons, ranking tenth in the world, a decrease from 49,152 in 1997; the country ranked twelfth in plant production. The only nickel producer was Falconbridge Dominicana, an 85% Canandian-owned company.
The country was one of the few sources of amber in the Western Hemisphere. Salt Mountain, a 16 km block of almost solid salt west of Barahona, was the world's largest known salt deposit. There were also large deposits of gypsum near Salt Mountain, making the Dominican Republic one of three sources of gypsum in the Caribbean. The country also produced hydraulic cement, limestone, marble, and sand and gravel. Substantial lignite deposits were found in the early 1980s.
Production of gold and silver was suspended in 1999, including at what was, in 1980, the Western Hemisphere's largest gold mine, at Pueblo Viejo. Production was declining by the mid-1980s, so mining of the sulfide zone of the gold ore body was commenced, requiring more extensive processing facilities than had previously existed. Production of gold was 7,651 kg in 1987 and 3,659 in 1996, and of silver, 39,595 kg in 1988 and 17,017 kg in 1996. Production of bauxite, traditionally the principal mining product, ceased in 1992. The Aluminum Co. of America (Alcoa) mined bauxite between 1959 and 1983, when it turned its concession over to the state. Production in 1991 dropped 92% from the previous year, as a presidential decree suspended mining operations at the largest mine, in response to increasing fears of deforestation, although reforestation of mined areas was in progress.