The role of the state in the development of the mining industry in Morocco under the French Protectorate (1912-1956)
During the Protectorate period (1912-1956), the vast majority of Moroccan mines were privately owned. The investors were mainly French. This general picture is in agreement with the fact that Morocco was under the domination of France and consequently a privileged field for French investors. However two major events do not fit into the above description. The first occurred in 1921 : the creation of the Office Chérifien des Phosphates, a public company which had the monopoly of the exploration and the exploitation of Moroccan phosphate. The second occurred in 1928 : the creation of the Bureau de Recherches et de Participations Minières, a public body which acquired one third of the only Moroccan coal mine, and obtained afterwards shares of several mines and directed oil exploration in Morocco. In order to integrate these two events into the global development of the Moroccan mining industry it will be shown that these authoritarian measures on the part of the State were taken because it was necessary to find a way of bypassing the international constraints bearing on Morocco at the beginning of the Protectorate period. European countries did not object to French domination over Morocco as long as French investments would not be favoured against those of other countries. Therefore the open-door regime was established in Morocco. In the twenties, the French Government and the Protectorate administration were increasingly worried by the growing influence of foreign investors and by the very slow rate of development of the Moroccan mining industry. Therefore, as French interests could not be favoured directly, because of the open-door regime, the only solution was to reinforce the power of the State. From the thirties onwards, French investors were in a dominant position and no longer needed State intervention in order to protect them. Consequently, the role of the Bureau de Recherches et de Participations Minières was reduced to that of a public fund which only invested in those sectors which were not considered as profitable by private investors.