Namibia was among the world's premier producers of gem diamonds, and the mining industry accounted for 11% of GDP and 50% of foreign exchange earnings, and was the largest private-sector area of employment. The most valuable minerals were diamonds, uranium, copper, silver, lead, zinc, gold, pyrite, and salt. Diamonds were mainly recovered from a 96 km stretch along the coastline north of the Orange River; 1.54 million carats of gem diamond were produced in 2000. Also produced in 2000 were columbium, tantalum, tin, cement, fluorspar, gypsum, semiprecious stones (agate, amethyst, garnet, pietersite, rose quartz, sodalite, and tourmaline), granite, marble, sulfur (pyrite concentrate), and wollastonite.
Mine copper output in 2000 was 5,070 tons (copper content), following no output in 1999, and 17,879 in 1997; mine lead, 12,115 tons (metal content); zinc concentrate, 40,266 tons (metal content); and salt, 381,670 tons. Rössing Uranium, owned by Rio Tinto-Zinc, of the UK, produced uranium oxide at the world's largest opencast uranium mine, at Swakopmund. Coal has been discovered in southeastern Namibia. Mineral exports accounted for one-half of total export value. In the period 1996–2000, the following minerals experienced one or more years of no output: antimony, arsenic, copper, manganese, industrial diamond, gypsum, lithium minerals (amblygonite, lepidolite, and petalite), several semiprecious gemstones (amethyst, chrysocolla, garnet, crystal quartz, pietersite, rose quartz, sodalite, and tourmaline), and sulfur.