Copper and foreign investment: the development of the mining industry in Cyprus during the Great Depression
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This paper evaluates the impact of the rapid growth of mining on the Cypriot economy during the period 1921–1938, with special focus on the expansion of copper sulphate mining. During this period the industry was transformed by companies such as the Cyprus Mining Corporation (CMC) and this affected the whole economy and society. The island was for the first time inundated with substantial foreign direct investment, which encouraged technological adaptation and altered labour relations; as such there has been a debate on how beneficial was mining for the economy at that time. Using substantial primary data we estimated output (GDP share), employment and productivity estimates for the mining industry, as well as profit estimates for the foreign mining firms through the use of a counterfactual. The data allows us to argue that mining was very beneficial in increasing labour productivity and earning foreign exchange, but also highlights that the economic and social benefits for the economy were less than those suggested by the colonial authorities due to mass exports of profits.