The Industrial Revolution spread around Europe during the XIX century, arriving to Spain by the end of the century. The first cement factory was opened in 1898 in Tudela Veguín in Asturias and produced 15.000 tons per year.
The first cement factories to apply modern technology were originally family limelinks. In the year 1900, in the province of Guipúzcoa, the Sociedad Comanditaria Hijos de J.M Rezola became the first cement factory in Spain. The following year the Compañia General de Asfaltos y Portland Asland, S.A was founded and opened its first plant in Barcelona. Finally in 1903 the Sociedad de Cementos Portland S.A, el Cangrejo, was opened in Olazagutía in the province of Navarra.
The economic growth in the previous years to the First World War boosted and developed the cement industry due to the demands from the electrical and housing industry. During this period, production reached 400.000 tonnes per year, four times more than in 1909.
The consolidation of the cement industry (1923-1929)
The cement industry was spurred not only by the strong performance in public works but also by the siderurgical, metallurgist and hydro electrical sectors, doubling its production capacity and tripling manufacture in the period from 1923 to 1930. Many news factories were opened but the enlargement and modernization of the existing ones was very significant, replacing the old kilns, improving the quarry, the grinding, transports, etc.
In 1929, thanks to all the improvements mentioned, production reached a maximum production of 1,55 million tonnes, amount that was only exceeded after the Spanish Civil War. During this booming period the people involved in the business decided to create a group called “Unión de Fabricantes de Cemento de España” in 1931 which was based on the association formed in 1925. This established a precedent for the present Oficemen, still in charge of looking after the needs and interests of the sector.
Industrial Crisis (1929-1939)
The consequence of the crisis in 1929 was the fall of the industrial production which only recovered in 1935 until the Spanish Civil War broke in 1936.
In those years, the production of the Portland cement reached 2,6 tonnes per year with 29 factories which included 49 rotary kilns and 32 vertical kilns.
Autarky and interventionism (1939-1950)
The cement industry facilities were not strongly affected during the war. By the end of which, although the demand for cement increased considerably due to reconstruction works, it was impossible to meet the demands and together with the absence of cement, iron and non ferrous metals, construction declined.
It is important to point out the significant research works carried out during those years resulting in the creation of the Instituto Técnico de la Construcción y del Cemento (Eduardo Torroja Institute) in 1949.