Belgium

(Map) Belgium

BELGIUM (RU: Бельгия; Belgique in French language; Belgie in Flemish language), the Kingdom of Belgium (RU: Королевство Бельгия; Royaume de Belgique in French language; Koninkrijk Belgie in Flemish language) is the state within the Western Europe. It borders France to the south-west, Netherlands to the north, West Germany and Luxembourg to the east. It is washed by the North sea at the north-west. The area is 30.5 thousand square kilometres. The population is 9.86 million persons (1981). The capital is the Brussels city. Administratively, Belgium comprises 9 provinces. The official languages are French and Dutch (Flemish). The monetary unit is the Belgian franc. Belgium is the participant of the European Economic Community (EEC), of the union of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg (Benelux), of the Belgo-Luxembourgish Economic Union (BLEU), according to which both countries act as the unified entity within the foreign commerce, and within other organizations of the Western European countries.

General characteristic of the economy. Having almost no resources of the useful minerals (except the mineral coal), Belgium has reached yet during the start of the 20th century the high level of the development of the capitalistic economy, using the advantages of the geographic position within Europe, and obtaining the income from the intermediate transit commerce, and also on the base of the import of the mineral raw materials from the former colonies within Africa, namely, Congo (now Zaire), and Rwanda. According to the amount of the national income per capita, Belgium holds the 9th or 10th places within the capitalistic world (1981). The industry accounts for approximately 40% of the GDP. The intensive highly productive agriculture plays the secondary role (3.4% of the GDP) within the economy of the country, but it satisfies 80% of the demand for the food products.

The peculiarity of the economy is the high dependence on the foreign commerce: there is exported 55% of the national product. Almost all raw materials and fuel are imported, and up to 40% of the industrial produce is exported. According to the value of the turnover of the foreign commerce per capita, Belgium holds the 1st place, and according to the total volume of the export, it holds the 6th place among the capitalistic countries.

Belgium is one of the world's major producers of brilliants. The cutting industry of Belgium and the Antwerp market of the diamond raw materials and brilliants are the major constituent elements of the Belgian diamond sector, which is playing the great role within the economy of the country. Although there are within it approximately 1% of the employees, its share amounts to 5-7% of the entire export of Belgium, holding during the individual years the 3-4th place after the steel, coal, and chemical industries. The share of Belgium accounts for approximately 20% of the world's export of brilliants, of glass, 10% of the export of the copper, lead, and zinc, 12-14% of the cinema-photography film and of the rolled products of the ferrous metals (together with Luxembourg). Belgium holds one of the first places within the world in the export of the germanium and cobalt. Petroleum, which is imported from the middle east and northern Africa, holds the major place (51%) within the energy balance, then follow the mineral coal (24%), natural gas (23%, mainly from the Netherlands), and so on. It is expected to increase the share of the natural gas (on the account of the supplies from Algeria and from the Norwegian sector of the North sea) and of the nuclear energy industry. The production of the electrical energy is 48 billion kilowatt-hours (1981).

Belgium holds the 1st place within the world in the density of the railway network (the length is more than 4 thousand kilometres), of the automobile roads (25.5 thousand kilometres), the 2nd place within Europe (after the Netherlands) in the density of the internal waterways (1.6 thousand kilometres). The major seaport is the Antwerp city (the cargo turnover is 82 million tonnes during the 1980).

Nature. On the territory of Belgium, there are distinguished three major parts. The south-east of the country, namely, the High Belgium, is occupied by the Ardennes mountainous massif (the Luxembourg, Namur provinces), which is dissected into the flat-topped plateaus with the highest point of Belgium, namely, the Botrange mountain (694 metres). The large depression with the valleys of the rivers Meuse and its tributary, Sambre (Samber), separates the Ardennes mountains from the Central Belgium, which is the rolling plains with the height of 80-180 metres (the Hainaut, Brabant, Limburg provinces). The Low Belgium, which is the flat lowlands of the Western and Eastern Flanders and Campine (the height is up to 50 metres), occupies the north and north-west of the country. There may be traced along the coast the strip of the fertile polders (the width is up to 15 kilometres), which is situated at the height of up to 2 metres below the level of the sea, which is protected against the flooding by the sandy dunes and artificial dams. During the times of the marine ebbs, there exposes itself the strip of the sandy mudflats (the width is up to 3.5 kilometres). Among the lowlands of the Low Belgium, there rise themselves within the certain places the outlier sandy hills (the height is up to 150 metres). The climate is temperate maritime. The average temperature of January ranges from -1 degrees Celsius within the Ardennes mountains to 3 degreees Celsius on the coast, the average temperature of July ranges respectively from 14 to 19 degrees Celsius. The precipitation within the Low Belgium and Middle Belgium is 700-900 millimetres per year, and within the High Belgium is up to 1500 millimetres per year. Belgium possesses the dense network of the high water rivers. The rivers of the High Belgium belong to the drainage basins of the Meuse river, the rivers of the Low Belgium and Middle Belgium belong to the systems of the Scheldt and Iser rivers.

Geological structure. They distinguish on the territory of Belgium: the Brabant massif, which is occupying the whole Central Belgium; the Namur syncline, which is bounding the massif at the south and east; the Variscan structures of the Ardennes mountains (the western part of Rennes massif), which are situated to the south and south-east from the syncline; the Campine downfold, which is situated to the north from the Brabant massif. The low plateau of the Brabant massif is formed by the terrigenous, less often by the carbonatic rocks of the early Cambrian and late Silurian ages, which have been intensely dislocated during the period of the Caledonian folding during the start of the Devonian. The sedimentary strata have been breached by the early Silurian diabases and keratophyres, and also by the after-Ordovician quartzous micro-diorites. The Caledonian formations within the Brabant massif are overlain by the thin Cretaceous sediments, within the Ardennes mountains by the Devonian and Carboniferous depositions, including the coal-bearing stratigraphic suite of the Middle and Upper Carboniferous, and together with them are re-processed by the Variscan orogeny (the Asturian stage of the folding).

Within the limits of the Ardennes mountains, the Caledonian basement exposes itself onto the surface within the Rocroi, Stavlo, Givone, and Serpon uplifts. Along the western direction, the Variscan structures hide themselves under the cover of the Upper Cretaceous and Paleogene-Neogene depositions, again exposing themselves only within France, on the coast of the English Channel, from the Boulogne-sur-Mer city to the north. The eastern Ardennes mountains transition themselves into the Eifel downfold. The Namur syncline, which is separating the Brabant massif and the Ardennes mountains, belongs to the Variscan Ardennes mountains, and is filled with the coal-bearing molasse (Namur, Westphalia stages), to which there are confined the deposits of the Southern coal basin. At the south, the formations of the Ardennes mountains are thrusted along the Midi fault onto the coal-bearing depositions of the Southern basin. The Campine downfold is filled with the coal-bearing molasse of the Carboniferous age, and includes the Campine coal basin. After the conclusion of the Variscian orogeny, there developed itself on the territory of Belgium the intense erosion during the Permian and Triassic, which has been replaced by the periodic transgressions and regressions of the sea, as the result of which there have deposited themselves (limitedly) at the north and south on the territory of the country the Triassic and Jurassic sediments, and also the Cretaceous sediments, which are more distributed and thick. The Cenozoic cover is formed by the unevenly distributed strata of the mainly sandy and clayish sedimentary rocks. They are characteristic within the central and northern parts of the territory of Belgium. The slightly inclined Epeirogenic deformations continue themselves yet now. The neotectonics has been manifested within the Ardennes mountains, and in the form of the numerous disturbances within the Campine coal basin.

Hydrogeology. From the south to the north, there are distinguished the following major hydrogeological structures: the marginal part of the Parisian artesian basin, the Ardennes hydrogeological folded structure, the Liège artesian basin of the foredeep type, the Brabant hydrogeological folded structure, and the lower Rhine artesian basin. Within the limits of the margin of the Paris basin, there are most distributed the aquifers of the Triassic and Jurassic, which are represented by the karsted, often salt-bearing and gypsum-bearing limestones, which in case of the significant water abundance often contain the hard and saltish waters. The Ardennes hydrogeological folded structure, which is characterized prevalently by the development of the cracked and cracked-veinous waters within the poorly-permeable sand-schist depositions of the Paleozoic, belongs to the list of the regions of the country, which are least provided with the underground waters.

Within the Liège artesian basin, there are developed the karstic and cracked-karstic waters within the carbonatic rocks of the Upper Devonian and Carboniferous; the basin distinguishes itself by the large reserves of the fresh underground waters, which, despite the increased hardness, are widely operated by the galleries and boreholes. Within the limits of the Brabant hydrogeological folded structure, there are developed mainly the cracked and cracked-veinous waters of the poorly permeable Lower Paleozoic terrigenous metamorphic rocks. There are embedded above the same poorly water-bearing thin clayish and marl-sandy depositions of the Paleogene, and the Pleistocene loesses. The lower Rhine artesian basin is represented by the series of the aquifers of the Upper Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic, often of the pressurized type, among which there have the practical value the complexes of the Cretaceous, Paleogene, Neogene, and of the various genetic types of the Quaternary depositions. The existence of the Permian-Triassic salt-bearing rocks within the cross section of the basin, and also the introduction of the marine waters onto the coast, predetermine the significant distribution here of the saltish and saline waters. According to the rough estimates, the total reserves of the fresh underground waters are 0.9-2.6 billion cubic metres, the annual water intake is approximately 600 million cubic metres.

(Table # 1) The reserves of the major useful minerals (end of the 1980)
Useful minerals Reserves The content of the useful component, %
total proven
Mineral coal and anthracite *, million tonnes 5988 495 -
Iron ores, million tonnes 40 40 32
Barite ores, thousand tonnes 600 - 90
Fluorite, thousand tonnes 100 50 50
* The estimate to the depth of 1200 metres

Useful minerals. Belgium is very poor in useful minerals, excluding the mineral coal and small, mostly exhausted deposits of the iron ores, barite, and fluorite (Table # 1).

The reserves of the coals are enclosed within the two basins: the Southern basin (Liège, 2188 million tonnes), which is the eastern continuation of the Nord and Pas-de-Calais basin within France, and the Campine basin (3800 million tonnes), which is the northern branch of the Westphalian coal-bearing stripe of the Western Europe. Both basins are situated within the external depression of the Variscan folded massif. The coals are mineral, of the humus type, of the varying degree of metamorphism, from the lean ones to the fat fiery ones. Within the Southern basin, the sedimentary depositions of the Devonian, Carboniferous, Cretaceous, and Paleogene-Neogene ages are embedded on the Cambrian-Silurian gneisses, and on the crystalline schists of the basement. There are coal-bearing the depositions of the Westphalian stage, which has the thickness of 2800 metres, and is dissected into the 4 stratigraphic suites.

The tectonic structure of the basin is very complicated. Within various regions of the basin, the quantity of the layers ranges from 16 (Herve) to 95 (Mons), with their total thickness, respectively, from 9.7 to 65 metres. The average thickness of the layers is 0.65 metres, the content of the volatile substances is not more than 16%, the moisture is 2-3%, the content of sulfur is 1-2%, the net specific heat of combustion is 33.6-35.0 megajoules per kilogram. The water abundance is insignificant, the gas abundance is high.

The Campine basin is situated on the southern limb of the syncline of the same name. The productive part of the Carboniferous is formed by the diverse schists, by the rare layers of the sandstones, and by the numerous layers and streaks of coal. The coal-bearing stratum is embedded in the form of the slightly dipping monocline, which is disrupted by the faults. There have been identified within the basin up to 82 layers and streaks of coal, of which only 6 have the thickness of slightly more than 1 metre, less often up to 2 metres. The net specific heat of combustion of the working fuel is 33.6-35.0 megajoules per kilogram, the ash content of the coal is not more than 6-8%, the content of sulfur is 1.5-2.0%, the moisture is 3-4%, the quantity of the volatile substances decreases with the increase of the depth from 31% to 13%. The zone of the long-flame fiery, gaseous, and fat coals stretches along the southern limit of the basin, namely, the Southern, or Eifelian, thrust fault; the lean coals are confined to the northern part of the basin, along the Brabant massif; within the central zone, there are the intermediate, coking coals.

The iron ores may be found within the sedimentary deposits of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic ages, and within the deposits of the weathering of the Neogene and Quaternary ages. Within the Paleozoic deposits (Couvin, Tournai, and others), the oolitic hematitic ores form the tabular or lenticular depositions. The content of iron is 25-43%, up to 56% in the unique cases (Famenne); the content of phosphorus is more than 1%. The Mesozoic deposits (Musson, Alamen, and others) belong to the Lorraine type, the content of iron is 35-39%, the ores are very phosphorous (0.5 - 0.6%). Within the deposits of the weathering, the ores are represented by the limonite sandstones of the Lower Eocene age, the content of iron is 18-28%, rarely up to 38%, the content of phosphorus is 0.07%. The deposits of this type are known within the swamped valleys of the Limburg, Antwerp, and are also confined to the Devonian limestones within the Meuse and Sambre regions.

The lead-zinc deposits of the stratiform type are confined to the carbonatic strata of the Givetian-Frasnian age at the the south of the country, and of the Tournaisian-Viséan age at the north. The composition of the ores is: sphalerite, galena, marcasite, pyrite, fluorite, barite, dolomite, and calcite. The veins with the high content of fluorite and barite were worked out for the obtainment of the corresponding concentrates.

There are known within many regions of Belgium the deposits of the non-metallic building materials: limestones, marbles, granites, sands and sandstones, clays, and others.

The sources of the mineral waters of the varying compositions are known within the regions of the Ardennes mountains and of the Middle Belgium. Within the coal-bearing basin of the Hainaut province, within the interval of the 2400-2600 metres, there has been unsealed by the borehole the horizon of the thermal sulphate-calcium waters within the limestones of the Upper Carboniferous. The thermal ferruginous waters with the salinity of 135 grams per litre have been unsealed by the borehole with the depth of 2200 metres within the Tournai city.

History of the development of the mineral resources. The extraction of flint on the territory of Belgium is dated at the 3rd millennium BC. At the distance of 4 kilometres from the Mons city to the south-east, there was extracted on the area of approximately 50 hectares the flint of the high quality (the Spiennes mines), which was delivered into the Central Europe, and possibly onto the British islands. The depth of the mines reached 16 metres, with the diameter of not more than 1 metre. The shafts were connected with the drifts, during the heading of which there was extracted the flint. The workings, which have been used, were filled with the waste rock. During the times of the Roman empire, within Belgium, within the drainage basins of the Sambre and Meuse rivers, they extracted the iron ore (1st century BC), and within the Ardennes mountains, they extracted the copper and lead ores. There have been found within the region of the Liège city the oldest within the Western Europe developments of the mineral coal (4-5 centuries AD). The extraction of the mineral coal by the open pit method is known since the end of the 12th century within the Liège bishopric. During the 13th century, there was performed the smelting of the cast iron within the Liège city, which has led to the increase of the extraction of coal. During the 14th century, there existed the coal mines within the Namur province. During the 1337, there has started the construction of the underground mines for the extraction of coal by the magistrate of the Mons city; during the 14-17 centuries, within the Hainaut and Liège provinces, there was conducted the systematic extraction of the mineral coal, mainly by the open pit mines, and also by the underground mines with the depth of up to 100 metres. The water drainage was performed by the pumps, the hoisting of coal was performed by the horizontal winches with manual or equestrian prime mover. The coal was exported into the France and Netherlands. During the 18th century, the significant increase of the depths (up to 180 metres), and the unfavourable conditions of the development (the increased tectonic disruption of the layers, abundance of methane, flooding) have sharply limited the possibility of the artisanal extraction of the coal, and have led during the start of the industrial revolution to the attraction of the large capitals and advanced machinery of that time into the coal enterprises of Belgium, which have become the basis for the development of its industry. During the 1717, near the Liège city, for the first time on the European continent, there has been used for the water drainage the steam-powered pump.

The successful replacement of charcoal by coke for the smelting of the iron ores during the 70-ies of the 18th century has accelerated the development of the Southern mineral coal basin. There have appeared at the mines the railway mine carts with the equestrian prime mover; during the start of the 19th century, there have been created the steam-powered hoisting machines (1809, Bois-du-Luc, Hainaut province). During the 1762-83, the export of coal into France has grown from 2 to 20 thousand tonnes, and by the 40-ies of the 19th century, the extraction has reached 3 million tonnes per year, by the end of the 1870-ies, the extraction has reached 13.7 million tonnes of coal per year; during the 1890, the share of Belgium accounted for 5% of the worldwide production of the mineral coal (20.4 million tonnes); during the 1910, Belgium held the 7th place within the world (23.9 million tonnes). Since the start of the 20th century, there is operated the northern Campine basin, which gave 10% during the 1929, and the third part during the 50-ies, of the produce of the coal industry of Belgium.

During the 19th century, there have significantly exhausted themselves the deposits of the metallic ores; since the 1860, there has started the import of the iron ore into Belgium. During the 1900, there has been extracted 248 thousand tonnes, and during the 1910, only 123 thousand tonnes of the iron ore. During the 19th century, when the abbot Doney has invented the cheap method for the smelting of zinc (during the 1810), there has been founded the enterprise near the Liège city, which has grown into the large "Vieille-Monfagne S. A." company. Belgium held the 3rd place within the world in its production (20% of the worldwide extraction). Before the 1840, zinc was produced only from the local ore (6 thousand tonnes), by the start of the 20th century, only from the imported one (127 thousand tonnes). The same thing has happened with the extraction of the ores of lead (13 thousand tonnes of the ore during the 1870, 150-200 tonnes per year during the end of the 19th century).

(Table # 2) The extraction of the major types of the mineral raw materials
Mineral raw material, the product of its processing 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980
Petroleum products, million tonnes - - 0.2 6.0 28.0 33.0
Mineral coal, million tonnes 27.4 29.8 27.3 22.5 11.4 6.3
Iron ores, million tonnes 0.13 0.12 0.11 0.16 0.10 -
Kaolin, thousand tonnes - - - 40.4 90.7 118*
*The data for the 1979

Mining industry. General characteristics. The mining-extracting industry is insignificant (2.3% of the value of the industrial production), and is represented mainly by the coal industry, which accounts for 99% of the value of the produce of the mining industry (see the map).

The mining-extracting industry belongs to the private, mostly to the Belgian, capital. The demand of the country for coal is satisfied for 50% on the account of the import (mainly from the West Germany, USA, Republic of South Africa, Mongolia). Not having its own sources of petroleum and gas, Belgium is the large consumer of these raw materials. The import of petroleum is performed through the Zeebrugge port (and further through the petroleum pipeline to the Ghent city), and through the Rotterdam - Antwerp petroleum pipeline. 8 plants process 47.2 million tonnes of petroleum per year, and produce 33 million tonnes of the petroleum products. The gas arrives through the branch of the Groningen (Netherlands) - north of France trunk petroleum pipeline. Importing the ores and concentrates of the non-ferrous metals, Belgium is the producer of the refined copper, lead, zinc, and also of the tin and aluminium.

Coal industry. The rate of the extraction of the mineral coal within Belgium during the 1939 has reached 29.8 million tonnes. Since the end of the 50-ies, in association with the worsening of the mining-geological and mining-technical conditions of the development (in particular, with the worsening of the grade of coal), the extraction has started to decrease (Table # 2).

During the start of the 80-ies, there worked 6 underground mines, which were belonging to the 2 private companies, which were controlled (since the 1961) by the Directorate (Directoire de l'Industrie Charbonnière) of the Ministry for the economy and energetical industry, which also provides the financing for the coal industry. The major coal-extracting region of Belgium is the Campine basin (approximately 6 million tonnes, 94% of the total extraction during the 1980), where are working 5 underground mines. The major extraction (97%) is accounted for the layers with the angle of the dip of up to 20 degrees. They obtain approximately 48% of the coal from the layers with the thickness of up to 1.5 metres, the average (useful) thickness is 1.18 metres. The average depth of the development is 881 metres (1040 metres at the "Vatershay" underground mine). The average length of the retreat mining long wall stopes is 212 metres. The coal layers are characterized by the high gas emission (up to 100 cubic metres per 1 tonne of the extraction); there is conducted the preliminary degassing. Approximately 76% of the captured methane is utilized. The layers are unsealed, as a rule, by the two vertical shafts, which are situated at the centre of the mine field. The heading of the capital and preparatory workings is performed by the drilling-blasting method or by the jackhammers, with the mechanized loading by the scrapers or by the loading machines.

Within the horizontal workings through the rock, there prevails the roof support by the concrete stones (72% of their length), and through the layer of the coal, there prevails the flexible metallic roof support (52%). At all the underground mines, there is used the continuous advancing long wall mining system. The major method for the control of the roof (97%) is the complete collapse. The working retreating long wall stopes distinguish themselves with the high level of mechanization. The major extracting equipment is the plowing installations (83.8% of the total extraction), and the narrow-width combined cutter-loader machines (7.7%). The long wall stopes with the mechanized roof support account for 58.2% of the extraction (1979). The major transport equipment (through the horizontal workings) is the locomotives (82% of the total volume of transportations), mainly the diesel ones (60.7%). The conveyor transport accounts for 12.9% of the volume of transportations. There are also used the monorail roads. The retreating long wall stopes, and the places for the movement of the mine carts, are equipped with the systems for the telecontrol with the connection to the computers. With the help of this system, there is monitored the volume of the extraction within each long wall stope, and the mine carts are rationally distributed throughout the extracting places. The average daily working load onto the long wall stope is 549 tonnes of the marketable coal (1979); they obtain 16.7% of the total extraction from the retreating stopes (from the long walls) with the working load of more than 1000 tonnes per day.

The average annual extraction of the mine is approximately 790 thousand tonnes of the marketable coal. The largest of them are the "Zolder" (1.964 million tonnes; 4340 persons), "Vatershay" (1.185 million tonnes; 2648 persons), "Beringen" (1.093 million tonnes; 2528 persons). The total quantity of the workers at the mines is 17 thousand persons (1979). The productivity during the shift of the worker for the extraction is 1.74 tonnes of the marketable coal. Approximately 98% of the run-of-mine coal, which is extracted, is beneficiated at the coal preparation plants (the transport is the belt conveyors on the trestles). The major mass of the coal arrives into the heavy-medium separators (41.5%), less often into the jigging machines (39.9%), and into the flotation chambers (7.4%).

The decrease of the extraction of coal within Belgium has led to the increase of the dependence of the country on the import of the energetical raw materials. By the end of the 70-ies, only approximately 11% of the needs were satisfied on the account of its own extraction of coal; there provided approximately 74% the imported petroleum and gas, and 9.3% the imported coal. During the 1980, there has been imported into the country 10.1 million tonnes of coal, that is more than has been extracted. During the 1977, within Belgium, 52.4% of all coal (including the imported one) has been purposed for the coking, 30.7% for the production of the electrical energy, 5.9% into other sectors of the industry, 11% into the household sector. There has emerged the tendency for the further decrease of the extraction of coal.

The extraction of the iron ores within Belgium has been completely terminated during the 1978 (Table # 2).

The ferrous metallurgy of Belgium bases itself on the imported raw materials, and is specialized for the production of the high quality special grades of steel.

Because of the exhaustion during the 19th century of the deposits of the non-ferrous metals, Belgium uses the imported raw materials, which are delivered from Zaire. For the non-ferrous metallurgy of Belgium, there is characteristical the comprehensive utilization of these raw materials: there are extracted from the copper concentrates the germanium (the third part of the total production of the capitalistic countries), copper (Belgium holds the 4th place after the USA, Japan, and Chile in the production of the refined copper), lead, zinc (Belgium holds the 10th place in the production of the refined lead, 9th place in the production of zinc), significant quantity of sulfur and selenium.

The industrial extraction of the facing stone is mainly concentrated within the Namur province (for example, the Petit Granit deposit of the black marble). The volume of the extraction of the marble in blocks is 82000 cubic metres (1980). The development is performed within the quarries with the usage of the stone-cutting machines with the diamond circular saws, bar-type stone cutting machines, derrick cranes, and so on. The largest enterprise is the Skuflini quarry (4000 cubic metres of the blocks per year). There is exported mainly the finished produce, into Italy, France, West Germany, and other countries (2200 tonnes during the 1980).

(Table # 3) Import and export of the diamond raw materials and brilliants, thousand carats
Years Diamond raw materials Brilliants
For jewellery purposes For technical purposes
import export import export import export
1970 8612 3901 8214 8127 1184 1705
1975 12535 8458 7772 5871 1095 1958
1978 26190 24564 10181 8641 2424 2891
1980 26504 24868 9390 8063 2007 2429
1981 26248 21148 12016 9285 1875 2671

Diamond processing industry. The first written mentions about the facts of the gem-cutting on the territory of the country belong to the 15th century (during the 1465 within the Bruges city, and during the 1483 within the Antwerp city, there worked the gem-cutter craftsmen). Till the end of the 19th century, the gem-cutting production based itself on the artisanal basis. During the 1890, there existed within the Antwerp city 25 large and 15 small workshops. There have emerged the first professional organizations, namely, the "Antwerp universal association of the gem-cutters" (1887), the "Antwerp union of the gem-cutters" (1895). The start of the 20th century was marked by the strengthening of the dominant positions of Belgium on the worldwide market of diamonds and brilliants. However, the worldwide economic crisis of the 30-ies has led to the sharp weakening of the Belgian gem-cutting industry, and the 2nd World War during the 1939-45 has completely paralyzed the activity of the entire diamond sector of the country. The Belgian diamond processing industry has born itself again and has reached the highest level during the 1967-68, when it had listed more than 18 thousand employees, and there were produced more than 50% of the worldwide quantity of brilliants.

The diamond processing industry of Belgium is concentrated mainly within the Antwerp city, and also within the Campine region. The total quantity of the gem-cutting enterprises reaches 3-3.5 thousand, while most of them are small artisanal workshops, which are working only periodically, during the time of the high demand. There also exist the modern factories, which are equipped with the highly productive equipment, including the automatic machine tools. The quantity of the workers, who are employed within the gem-cutting industry of Belgium, accounts for 11 thousand persons (1980). The Belgian gem-cutting industry produces brilliants from all the types of the diamond raw materials. However, taking into account the high qualification of the Belgian gem-cutters, there exists the certain specialization for the processing of the complicated raw materials. The annual production of diamonds amounts to 1-1.5 million carats. The national jewellery industry consumes only approximately 1% of the brilliants, which are produced within the country, which gives the transit character to the market of the diamonds and brilliants within the Antwerp city (Table # 3).

Antwerp city is the largest (after the London city) centre for the international commerce of the jewellery raw materials. Here mainly proceeds the redistribution of the parties of the jewellery grade diamonds, which have been purchased within the London city. Besides this, raw materials arrive into the market within the Antwerp city immediately from the diamond extracting countries.

Protection of the underground resources, and recultivation of the lands. High density of population within Belgium, and the scarcity of the territory, cause the necessity for the rapid restoration of the places on the surface of the land, which have been disturbed as the result of the mining works, or of their irrational usage. This applies mainly to the regions of the coal mines, and to the quarries of the non-metallic building materials. The geological conditions of the Southern mineral coal basin permit to use abandoned mines for the creation of the storage depots for the natural gas, when the special attention is provided to the reliable roofing of the old shafts, and to the creation of the gas-impermeable concrete internal walls, which can withstand the corresponding loads. The exhausted quarries of the non-metallic building materials, depending on the relief of the terrain and on the country rocks, are filled with the waste rock, with the complete recultivation of the surface for the planting or the forestial or agricultural cultures, or are filled with water for the sporting purposes (for example, the Sart-Tilman quarry near the Liège city). After the excavation of chalk or limestone, they use the underground workings as the mushroom plantations, or as the storage depots for the industrial wastes. The permissions for the performance of the mining works within Belgium are issued on the condition of the development of the project for the sufficient measures for the protection of the environment. The programmes for the extraction of the useful minerals are composed with taking into account the requirements for the rational city construction, protection of the environment, conservation of the nature, protection against the noise, dust, and so on. These programmes are considered by the regional commissions of the administrative organizations for the open pit development of deposits, which coordinate all the measures.

Scientific institutions. Geological service. Publishing. The major scientific-research works within Belgium are concentrated within the governmental scientific institutions, universities, sectoral associations of the industrial researches, and private enterprises. The governmental scientific institutions are the Royal institute for the natural sciences, the Centre for the research of the nuclear energy, the National institute for the mining-extracting industry. Among the sectoral associations are the National centre for the metallurgical researches, the National institute for the coal industry, the National mining institute.

There conducts the geological works within Belgium the Administration for the mining industry (Administration des Mines), which is subordinated to the Ministry of the economy. The Administration performs the coordination of the works within the mining industry, performs the functions of the mining supervision, and deals with the issues of the occupational safety. It has three major sub-divisions: the Geological service of Belgium (Service Géologique de Belgique), the service for the blasting works, the National institute for the mining-extracting industry. The researches are conducted also within the Institute for the mining hygiene, within the universities of the Louvain, Liège, Brussels, Mons cities, within the coordination centre for the mining rescue service of Belgium, and so on.