Spanish lead at the beginning of the 20th century: a competitiveness analysis based on records from the Crédit Lyonnais bank


  • Antonio Escudero Universidad de Alicante
  • Andrés Sánchez Picón Universidad de Almería


Lead industry, lead mining, Peñarroya, vertical integration


The records that we have found from the historical archives of the Crédit Lyonnais Paris Office allow for an estimation of costs of the Spanish lead factories at the beginning of the 20th century and thus to delve into the success of Peñarroya and the decline of the Sierra de Cartagena and Linares districts. The fact that those records explain why the factories from the old districts survived is an added value to those records. The reasons in fact were the high prices of lead in London, the depreciation of the peseta, the prices imposed to the mining companies as a consequence of the oligopolistic type of the minerals demand and also frauds to the miners by the Cartagena factories. It was common practice of the latter to bribe those who weighed and analysed the ores so that they would certify weights and a grades below the real ones, thus paying a price below the market value.