Bauxite industry (source HRVOJE RATKAJEC, Spatial aspects of industrialization in Istria from 1918 to 1940: examples of development ... ČSP, No. 2, 319-339 (2014))
The bauxite mining industry as the basic raw material for aluminum production in the Julian Krajina region existed exclusively in Istria, where the only deposits were located bauxite throughout Italy. Four joint stock companies and two companies were engaged in the extraction and sale of bauxite with limited liability, and all were established after the First World War.
We highlight only the four most important. One of the leading companies was S.A.M.T. Società Anonima Mineraria Triestina, which was founded as a joint stock company 4. May 1921. based in Trieste. The first shareholders were from the ranks of Trieste's economic elite, led by Trieste's main bank, Banca Commerciale Triestina (BCT). The purpose of the company was to extract bauxite, first in locations around Žminj, Labin and Vižinada, and employed 300 workers.
The Società Anonima Italiana delle bauxiti (S.A.I.B.) was founded on 28 May 1924 in Trieste on the basis of a bauxite mining concession held by the Sindacato Minerario Italiano per la Venezia Giulia Società Anonima of Trieste. His goal was to find and analyze bauxite deposits in Istria and on the basis of these analyzes to start the company's activities, ie to equip it for the exploitation of these deposits. Thus the S.A.I.B. leased (from the municipality of Pula) land for bauxite extraction near Boncastello (or Buoncastello) in the municipality of Pula, which he began to exploit in 1926. Mineraria Triestina was founded on November 22, 1920 as a limited liability company for the extraction and sale of bauxite, with a contract among nine co-owners, of which we must point out Ernest Lekner, a Trieste merchant, and engineer Bruno Slocovich, who also collaborated in founding S.A.I.B.
In 1922, the company was recapitalized, and the Brunner family from Trieste owned a good third of the company's capital through "their" Società Anonima Carbonifera ARSA and Fratelli Brunner. This event was an introduction to closer cooperation with ARSA. Namely, in the first year, Mineraria Triestina intensively researched in its fields near Labin, where it was the main plant of ARSA, and near Sv. Petar u Šumi and in Višnjan, which were located not far from the field of S.A.M.T. (St. Petar is near Žminj, and Višnjan near Vižinada). Due to limited financial resources, the company drew only the site at Sv. Petar u Šumi, which was close to the main railway line Pula - Trieste, which would make it easier for the company to transport ore to the port (in this case Pula or Trieste). The company Società anonima per l'escavo e l'industria di minerali d'alluminio (hereinafter: Società () was founded on 23 February 1920 as a joint stock company in Rijeka with the majority capital of the Hungarian company Società dell'alluminio di Budapest in the form of registered but still unused ore deposits near Lubenice on the island of Cres (Comune di San Giovanni) and in the vicinity of Labin (S. Domenica di Albona, ie St. Nedelja and Sumberesi, ie Stepančići).
Given that this was a company that was majority owned by a foreign company, not an Italian one, and which operated in the new Italian territory, there was soon a "nationalization". At an extraordinary session of the General Assembly on August 10, 1922, it was agreed that "Italian" shareholders (among them the Società Italiana di Credito Commerciale, founded by one of Italy's major banks, Banca Commerciale Italiana) would receive 59% of the shares. and 41% remained to the “Hungarian” shareholders gathered around the Banca Generale Ungherese di Credito in Budapest (with a branch in Rijeka). In line with the change of ownership, the company's headquarters were moved from Rijeka to Trieste. As we can conclude from the description of the company, the primary locational factor for the development of this industry was the raw material, because it was excavated where the bauxite deposits were. The excavations were scattered throughout Istria, and most concentrated around the site in the area of Vižinada - Višnjan (Brtonigla near Novigrad), Žminj - Sv. Petar u Šumi and Labin - Sv. Nedelja. The most active were excavations in the Labin area, where all four major companies excavated (S.A.M.T., S.A.I.B., Mineraria Triestina and Società…).
The second location factor, common to all four companies, is the transport of raw materials to the market. Transport took place primarily by truck on the roads from the excavation to the port (Rovinj, Novigrad, Rabac and Plomin). In the case of excavations in the Labin area, companies have invested in the construction of cable cars (S.A.M.T.) or railways (Società…) due to cheaper and faster transport to the port. CORDUROY. used Rabac, and Società… Plomin, since it had excavations near Sv. Sunday, which is closer to Plomin than Rabac. The transport of raw materials was a big obstacle for the development of this mining branch because on the one hand, due to the location of the site, companies were forced to use poor and expensive Istrian road infrastructure, and on the other hand did not have large sums of social capital that could invest in other modes of transport. . From the port, the ore traveled by sea, apparently through Italian ports (the port of Trieste did not participate) to international or domestic clients. International clients were in countries that had technologically and production-intensive metalworking industries, such as Germany, or undergoing intensive industrialization in the interwar period, such as Norway and the United States. Germany was the main foreign market for both the largest joint stock companies (S.A.M.T. and Società…), with S.A.M.T. exports to Germany in the second half of the 1930s undoubtedly linked to good political and economic cooperation between Germany and fascist Italy. And this is also the time of an important turning point in the exploitation of Istrian bauxite.
Namely, the main competitor to Istrian bauxite on the domestic and international market in the 1920s and in the first half of the 1930s was France, and later, and to a lesser extent, Yugoslavia and Hungary. As early as 1934, Italian autarkic economic policy sought to limit bauxite imports from abroad and replace them with domestic bauxite. If we add to this the stimulation of domestic aluminum production (in Porto Marghera, Rovereto and Bolzano), then it is not surprising that the S.A.M.T. in the late 1930s he supplied most of the excavated bauxite to the Italian aluminum industry, probably the highest factory in Porto Marghera, which was the closest (to Istria). We can see that in the exploitation of bauxite, companies did not invest so much in technologically advanced machines or equipment, but in land, basic equipment for digging and cleaning ore and means of transport. Based on this, we can logically conclude that they employed local peasants as workers, ie unskilled labor. By the way, if we compare the data of the Istrian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Camera di Commercio, ie Consiglio provinciale dell’economia corporativa) for 1929/1930. according to the 1927 Censimento industriale e commerciale (Censimento industriale e commerciale), the share of workers employed in bauxite mining was about 5% of all employees in industry and crafts in the Istrian province. That may be small, but the bauxite mining industry was the second largest mining activity in the province in terms of the number of employees (after coal mining). S.A.M.T. had about 400 workers, which is about 40% of all employees in that branch in Istria that year, and Società… about 150 workers. The locational factors that influenced the emergence and formation of the bauxite mining industry did not favor the concentration of the plant, ie the extraction site, so we cannot speak of the presence of a localization pattern.
At first glance, it seems that the companies could have cooperated in the transport from the site near Labin. However, S.A.M.T. After the integration of S.A.I.B. and Mineraria in 1930, it used the ports of Rabac, Rovinj and Novigrad, and Società… the port of Plomin. ARSA, with which Mineraria collaborated in the 1920s, had its own ports in Stalije and Bršica. All the mentioned ports are really close to each other, but that does not mean that they were interconnected in any way. All companies were based in Trieste, but entrepreneurial incentives and capital came from different areas. Bank capital (BCT for S.A.M.T. and Banca Generale Ungherese di Credito from Budapest, ie Rijeka for Società…) participated in the establishment and initial development of the two largest companies (S.A.M.T. and Società (). In both companies, the leading role was played by shareholders, ie managers who were not from Trieste. Namely, S.A.M.T. has been owned by the Canadian company Aluminum Ltd. since 1926. from Toronto, Canada, and two groups participated in the management of Società:: Trieste-Istria and Rijeka-Hungary. The former secured primacy at the time of the “nationalization” of the company, in which it was supported by the Banca Commerciale Italiana, ie its subsidiary Società Italiana di Credito Commerciale. The second group owned the bauxite deposit when founding the company, and later contributed its knowledge, ie business connections. The first Trieste entrepreneurial impetus came from the Sindacato Minerario Italiano per la Venezia Giulia Società Anonima, who had the knowledge and capital to establish the S.A.I.B. Another significant entrepreneurial stimulus from Trieste was the investment of Brunner and their ARSA in Minerari. In both companies we can notice the cooperation of different traders, entrepreneurs or lawyers as co-owners, and from Trieste, Rijeka and Vienna and from the "old" Italy.
We can say that this industrial activity, given that it was not so capital intensive, was attractive for different types of investments from different areas. Most of them were from Trieste. This is an example of the "Jacobs pattern". We have several examples for the "MAR form". The first is the establishment and development of the S.A.I.B. with the knowledge and capital of the Sindacato Minerario Italiano per la Venezia Giulia Società Anonima. Here we can add the participation of engineer Slocovich in the founding of the Mineraria and business cooperation with ARSA. The second, and most significant, example is the unification of S.A.M.T. with S.A.I.B. and Minerari, smaller companies that had their deposits in Istria in 1930. The merger and consequent incorporation of both companies into the S.A.M.T. it was perceived as an opportunity for consolidation and development at the beginning of the great economic crisis. This is an example of horizontal integration of companies in the same branch since the basic intention of the integration was the concentration of existing mines and deposits within one owner, S.A.M.T.
Source: Marijan Milevoj, blog Labinska Republika
In the last ten years, the construction of a cable car between Labin and Rabac has been constantly updated, in order to reduce the pressure of motor vehicles on this resort, which is increasingly suffocating this place during the summer days. For the same reason, such thinking within Istratrans was relevant almost half a century ago, when cars were rare, but vision was clearly not lacking. Today, at this time, the construction of the cable car is reminiscent of a fantastic story with a well-known outcome, as well as, for example, the underground city, which has also been associated with Rabac as a top tourist attraction for fifteen years. Those who are a little better acquainted with the history of our homeland know that Rabac got a cable car in the middle of 1925, but not for transporting tourists, but bauxite, and that it stretched for nine kilometers to the village of Cere. There was the main bauxite dump, which was then transported to the loading port in Rabac, the popular teleferic and then loaded onto ships via two conveyor belts. The carrying capacity of bauxite ships was up to 10,000 tons of bauxite excavated in the village of Cere and in the vicinity of St. Martin, and the largest ship that docked at a specialized port was called Tergesten.
It belonged to Martinolich, a Trieste shipowner with island Lošinj roots. Bauxite in Istria was exploited by the Trieste company S.A.M.T (Societta Anonnima di Minerale Trieste), and in Labin its headquarters were in today's building of the public company Vodovod. At one time, the head of the cable car was Batagliarini from Trieste, who met Leonilla Gobbo from Rabac, got married, and then ended up in Trieste, where she died a few years ago at the age of 107.
The largest turnover of teleferry was during the war in Abyssinia, and in addition to Rabac, bauxite was transported through the port of Plomin, which was connected to Šumber by a narrow-gauge railway. About ten people were constantly employed on the teleferic, and when there were more loads, they worked day and night with occasional additional employment, mostly people from the nearby Gondolići.
After the war, the routes for transporting bauxite were changed, and the cable car was mostly dismantled by professional German prisoners. It was then transferred to southern Serbia, although Tuzla is also mentioned. All that remains is the concrete skeleton of the teleferika, which today is mainly used to inquire curious tourists. The last quantities of bauxite in Istria were excavated in the late 80's of the last century, and in the Labin region even earlier.