Mine La Oportuna 1950. Source: http://mti-minas-aragon.blogspot.com.es
To speak of mining in this Region, is to speak of coal, the most widely mined mineral in the area. There is not a single village in this Region that has not had a mine within its municipality.
Its appearance, growth and decline followed a pattern very similar to that of other areas in the country and, to a larger degree, to the mining basins bordering the province of Teruel.
The origins of this mining arose with the use of charcoal, obtained from wood. Around the middle of the XVIII century, the growing use of this source of energy led to the over-exploitation of forests. So this type of fuel started to become scarce and more expensive, whilst its demand increased for incipient industrial uses at this time and even for domestic use. Various sites thereby sprung up for the extraction of mineral carbon.
In the middle of the XX century, part of the industrial turnaround in Aragón coincided with the Spanish Civil War. The first golden age of coal in this area took place between the years of 1940 and 1958, experiencing spectacular growth in its production due to the drop in imports and increased demand.
Growth of the mining industry, and specifically the coal industry, is intrinsically linked to that of transportation. In 1947, work began on the Andorra-Escatrón railway that would serve to supply lignite to the Escatrón thermal power station, the destination for practically all of the coal extracted.
Due to growing demand, mining operations expanded in the region. Mines such as La Oportuna, in Alloza, La Andorrana, in Andorra, or La Innominada between Alloza and Ariño, were opened. All this activity generated significant demand for labour, which to a large degree was covered by the arrival of immigrants from other areas of the country.
After the expansion experienced during the forties and fifties, in the 60’s the first significant crisis hit the sector, with a drop in production and, consequently, employment.
However, around the middle of the 70’s, demand for coal picked up and the Second Golden Age for the extraction of this mineral takes place, multiplying its production eight-fold.
At the end of the 80’s and beginning of the 90’s, coinciding with the entry of Spain into the European Economic Community, and acceptance of the ECSC treaty (European Coal and Steel Community), the primary objective of which was to establish a freely competitive common market, there began a phase of rapidly reducing mining operations, some due to depletion of the deposits and others due to lack of profitability.
Use of the most affordable energy sources, such as oil, and the impetus of other new ones, such as renewables, ended up taking over almost completely the extraction of coal in the region of Aragón. The last coal mine in Aragón is located in Mequinenza and is currently in the process of being closed down.