The bulk of Mauritania's industry was in mining or miningrelated activities. Industry, including fish processing but excluding mining, contributed only 5.3 percent to GDP in 1984. Industrial development was hampered by a limited infrastructure, a small local market with limited purchasing power, and a lack of skilled labor. In the mid-1980s, the labor force engaged in industrial activities numbered about 16,000 to 18,000 workers, of which 10,000 were employed in construction and an additional 4,000 to 6,000 were employed by SNIM. Most construction was related to the activities of foreign-financed projects, including mining. Some workers were employed in road and port construction. Within the small manufacturing sector were two main industries: an oil refinery and a steel mill. The rest consisted of small enterprises such as cement bagging, a perfume manufacturer, blanket fabrication facility, and an American-built sugar mill in Nouakchott that had never used its refining capacity and was limited to packaging imported refined sugar. In 1986 about thirty small enterprises were in operation.
Built in 1976 with West German, World Bank, and government financing, the steel rolling mill had an annual production capacity of 36,000 tons of reinforcing bars and rods. Operated originally by SNIM, the mill, which was located at Nouadhibou, operated intermittently and unsuccessfully before it was closed and sold in 1984 to the Arab Iron and Steel Company (Société Arabe du Fer et de l'Acier--SAFA). Reopened in 1985, the mill continued to be plagued by technical and economic problems; output in 1986 was only 5,300 tons.
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