Unique history of the FMG

The munitions factory we know today as FMG was based on the production of gunpowder.

The first written reference dates back to 1324 and it is fascinating to note that the factory is still producing gunpowder today. Even with the innovation and expansion of the portfolio, they are still among the most important products.

Gunpowder and ammunition

According to the historian’s opinion, the history of gunpowder production in Spain goes back not 700 but 800 years. Francisco Gonzalez Arroyo is a renowned Spanish historian who has published several books about gunpowder production. „In my opinion, this factory has 800 years of history, because gunpowder was made here long before it was used for military purposes in Spain. So what we are celebrating now is 700 years of its use as a weapon of war.“

Nitrocellulose-based propellants began to be produced at FMG in 1897, and the beginnings of the production of large-calibre ammunition date back to the second half of the 20th century.

Either factory or planting pine trees

The factory has been part of great historical events over the hundreds of years of its existence. Francisco Gonzalez Arroyo also remembers them. „Perhaps of the greatest importance for the history of Spain was its fundamental role during the 1936-1939 Rebellion. This facility was an essential and fundamental factor in the victory of the Rebels. What I would like to underline is the great sacrifice of the workers in this factory and also how they never stopped paying a salary here. And this is fundamental in a country where employment has been very unstable or quite unstable, but here, the stability of employment is one of the effects that I would like to highlight, that has characterised this company.“

It has been valued and appreciated by the inhabitants to this day. Antonio, who has worked there all his life, agrees. I’m from a village up here, Huétor Santillán, where there were two jobs, either in the factory or planting pine trees and reforesting what is now the Sierra de Huétor Natural Park. Only two jobs you could do.

Own school, shop and works council

The factory had its school, which produced the best craftsmen in the whole of Spain. Many of them stayed to work in the factory, but people from Madrid and other big cities came to be educated here. Antonio recalls: „We have to thank this company not only for giving us work for 50 years but also for the training we received from the time we entered the college until the time we left. I, for example, did both undergraduate and postgraduate studies, which enabled me to become a workshop manager. From zero to postgraduate studies. I owe my life to this company.“

Employees found everything they needed on the premises, even more than usual. „We had professional schools, we had a shop, we had a chapel here and we had a lot of things here that didn’t exist outside,“ said Miguel, President of the Works Council. „Excellent social relations have always been maintained here. There was a high level of communication between the unions and the management and vice versa. As a result, reciprocal agreements were made. All those meetings and efforts bore fruit in the form of extraordinary equipment and social services that workers can still use today.”

Unbelievable anniversary

Most employees remember the FMG factory by the name Santa Bárbara, or more factually „Fabrica de Polvoras“. The renaming took place in 2020 when it became 100% owned by the Slovak-holding MSM GROUP.

For seven hundred years, the factory has witnessed the greatest events in the history of mankind. It was there when the world’s most famous printed book, the Bible, was published, and when Christopher Columbus discovered America. It remembers the unveiling of the world’s most famous painting, the portrait of the Mona Lisa, and the premiere of Shakespeare’s theatrical masterpiece, Romeo and Juliet.

When the genius Isaac Newton discovered the law of engraving, the factory had been making propellants for 300 years. When Nikola Tesla invented the electric generator, which incidentally changed the world forever, the factory had more than 500 years of experience. It witnessed the birth of two of Spain’s most famous football clubs, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as the first man to land on the moon.

Is there a factory like this anywhere else in the world?

FMG – unique in the defence industry

Product development:

  • 1324: First written mention of gunpowder production in Granada
  • 1897: First lot of smokeless powder, i.e. nitrocellulose-based propellant, produced
  • 1950: First lot of nitrocellulose, the basic raw material for the production of smokeless propellants and other propellants, produced
  • 1970: First assembled LCA – large calibre ammunition. This involved filling, assembling and packaging the ammunition
  • 1984: First lot of spherical propellant produced. It is a smokeless propellant that is produced in the form of small spheres
  • 1986: First missile production programme, specifically the first pieces of a surface-to-air missile called Roland were produced. Subsequently, other rockets such as Mistral and Spike were produced
  • 2001: Acquisition of the factory by General Dynamics + large order for the Spanish Army. This was for large-caliber ammunition
  • 2005: First lot of 120 mm tank ammunition produced – this was specifically ammunition for Spanish Leopard tanks
  • 2006: First production of warheads for Meteor air-to-air missiles – research and development was also carried out here
  • 2007: First production of fire & forget Spike LR anti-tank missiles (long range – range over 4,000 metres) for Spanish models
  • 2009: First production of Fire & forget Spike ER anti-tank missiles (extended range – range over 8,000 metres) for Spanish models
  • 2015: the first lot of propellants produced that complies with REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), which aims to eliminate substances that pose a risk to the health and safety of workers during manufacture, to anyone handling or using the products, and to the environment (restricting the use of cancer-causing and carcinogenic substances)
  • 2019: Establishment of a company called FMG – Fábrica de Municiones de Granada (formerly Sánta Barbara Sistemas)
  • 2020: Acquisition by the holding company of the MSM Group
  • 2024: Unique anniversary, 700 years on the scene