The History of Mining in Portugal


I will be delving into the extensive history of mining in Portugal, exploring its origins, major milestones, and the impact of mining on the country’s history. By examining the historical development of mining in Portugal, we gain a betterunderstanding of Portugal’s mineral wealth and its contribution to the nation’s history.

Mining has played a vital role in the development of many civilizations throughout history including Portugal. The country’s relatively abundant mineral resources, and favorable geological conditions have facilitated mining operations since ancient times. I will be exploring the evolution of mining in Portugal from its early beginnings to the present day.

Early Mining Activities

Portugal’s mining history can be traced back to the Roman era when the Romans exploited various minerals such as gold, silver, copper, and iron. The Romans established mining settlements in regions including Trás-os-Montes, Alentejo, and Beira Alta, leaving a lasting impact on the development of mining techniques and infrastructure.

Medieval and Renaissance Period

During the medieval period, mining activities in Portugal were primarily centered around the extraction of gold, silver, and copper. King Dinis (1279-1325) encouraged a increase in the exploitation and exploration of the countries mineral resources. The exploitation of mines increased under subsequent monarchs, leading to the establishment of mining guilds and the implementation of mining regulations.

16th to 18th Century

The Age of Discoveries, initiated by Portugal’s maritime exploration, brought newfound wealth and resources to the country. Portuguese sailors and explorers ventured to distant lands, expanding the scope of mining activities. Brazil, a former Portuguese colony, became a vital source of gold and diamond mining, contributing to Portugal’s economic prosperity during the 18th century.

19th and 20th Century

The 19th century witnessed a transformation in Portugal’s mining sector with the discovery of new deposits of minerals like tungsten, tin, and uranium. The industrial revolution fueled the demand for these minerals, leading to increased mining operations in regions such as Covilhã, Guarda, and Viseu. The mining industry witnessed further growth in the early 20th century with the establishment of new mining companies and the adoption of modern mining techniques.

21st Century

In the post-World War II era, Portugal’s mining industry experienced both highs and lows. The nationalization of mining companies in the 1970s led to a decline in private investment and productivity. However, the privatization process in the 1990s revitalized the sector, attracting foreign investment and modernizing mining operations. 


The history of mining in Portugal spans centuries, leaving an indelible mark on the country’s economic, social, and cultural landscape. From ancient Roman mines to modern-day operations, Portugal’s mineral wealth has played a crucial role in its development.