Oscar Moisés Torres Montúfar

Ph.D. Student Department of History, El Colegio de México

2016 to 2017
Research Fellow

Miners, Oilmen and Chemists: Globalization and Technology in Mexican Sulphur Industry (1933-1972)

The establishment of German enterprises in Mexico in the 1920s boosted sulphuric acid demand, favoring the resumption of sulphur mining in Guaxcama. Afterwards, import substitution industrialization and agricultural modernization projects influenced PEMEX (state-owned petroleum company) and Industrias Peles to introduce sulphur recovery technologies in the 1950s and 1960s, in order to supplied GUANOMEX (state-owned agrochemical company) with the sulphuric acid required to produce fertilizers. Meanwhile, international increase in sulphur demand encouraged the exploitation of salt dome's sulphur deposits in Isthmus of Tehuantepec by American companies by the 1950s, who applied the Frasch mining method. As a consequence, Mexico became the second largest sulphur exporter. Nationalists trends in Mexican government led to the nationalization of Frasch sulphur industry in 1967, and to the establishment of a chemical, agrochemical and petrochemical corridor in Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The phenomenon raises questions about the impact of global chemical industrial development in developing countries.