Copper has been mined from many of the exposed massive sulphide deposits in Cyprus since the Bronze Age. Evidence for ancient copper smelting can be found throughout the Troodos Mountains with more than 140 ancient slag piles recorded. The largest slag pile at Skouriotissa was estimated to exceed one million tonnes and was built between ca.620 BC and 310 AD. Modern mining started in Cyprus in the 1920s with more than 74 Mt of massive sulphide ore extracted from about 30 deposits in the following 50 years. The largest of these deposits was Mavravouni with 16.5 Mt at 4.5 % copper. These deposits are also known to contain gold, silver and zinc, but there has been limited exploitation, or even testing, of these metals. Copper continues to be produced at the privately owned Skouriotissa Mine (4,328 tonnes of copper cathode produced in 2012).


Large-scale copper mining in Cyprus ended in the 1970s due to a number of historical factors. Independence from the British in 1960 was followed by unrest between Greek and Turkish Cypriots until Turkey invaded in 1974 and occupied the northern third of the island. Partition was very bad for the copper mining industry as the largest mine at Mavrovouni, the Karavostasi port and numerous prospective areas ended up in occupied territory or the United Nations-controlled Zone. Partition also increased Cyprus’ sovereign risk and led to declining international investment. This period also saw some very large mines in Africa and Chile start producing copper, which led to surplus supply, while the end of the Vietnam War lowered global copper demand. In short, the decline of the Cyprus copper industry, and its subsequent failure to re-emerge, was not because the mines were exhausted or that the Troodos Mountains are not prospective or poorly endowed.


Cyprus is now an advanced first-world country and is a member of the European Union and Euro Zone. Infrastructure within Cyprus is excellent. There is an extensive network of sealed roads and highways, numerous large ports and complete telecommunication coverage.