Turkey’s mining and metals sector has grown in parallel with the country’s robust economy. Harboring a large expanse of the western portion of the Tethyan-Eurasian Metallogenic Belt, which is an ophiolite extending from the Alps to southeastern Europe through Turkey, the Lesser Caucasus, Iran, and the Himalayas on to China, Turkey offers proven potential for mining investors. As the least exploited portion of the belt, Turkey stands out as a very promising region for companies engaged in mineral extraction.
Here are some essential facts and figures about the Turkish mining and metals sector:
- The sector’s total production value soared to TRY 37.2 billion in 2018; it was TRY 27.8 billion in 2017
- Turkey’s young, dynamic, and well-educated labor force translates into a high-quality labor pool.
- There are 56 mining engineering departments in 38 cities in Turkey. The number of mining engineers in Turkey has increased by more than 50 percent since 2005, now reaching almost 38,000. In 2018, around 1,000 new mining engineers were added to the talent pool.
- Turkey’s advantages for companies in the mining sector are not limited to a high-quality labor pool, but also include relatively low logistics and drilling costs, proximity to major markets, lucrative government incentives, and highly competitive taxes.
- As a result of its remarkable economic growth, years of political stability, structural reforms, and the backing of governmental bodies, Turkey attracted USD 183 million of FDI to its mining industry in 2018. Meanwhile, mining exports in the sector totaled USD 3.8 billion in 2018.
- These figures prove investors’ increased interest in Turkey. As of today, Turkey hosts 773 international mining companies, up from only 138 in 2004.
Turkey’s regional investment incentives system is based on a descending pattern where regions vary in a range of 1 to 6 based on their level of development, with a rating of 6 being given to the least developed regions. With this system, the most advantageous incentives are offered to the lesser-developed regions. Mining is one exception to this scheme, as most investments in the mining sector are supported with incentives extended to Region 5, regardless of the investment’s location.
Around the world, 323,6 gigaton (31,3%) of the coal reserves are located in Eurasian countries, 424,2gigaton (41.0%) in the Asia Pacific countries, 258.7 gigaton (25.0%) in North America, 33 gigaton (3,7%) in African and East Mediterranean countries and 14,6 gigaton (1,6%)in Central and South American countries.
Lignite is a type of coal which is generally used as a fuel in thermal power plants in order to possess its low grade and the high amount of ash and humidity. However, it is an energy raw material which is frequently used as it is quite abundant in the earth’s crust. On the other hand, Anthracite, is among the group of high calorie coals.
The World Energy Council has reported that the world coal reserves are present in around 80 countries, and The greatest part of the reserves is in the USA with 250.9 gigaton. The USA is followed by the Russia Federation with 160.4 gigaton, and and Australia with 144.8 gigaton. Among the other coal rich countries are: China (138.8 gigaton), India (97.7 gigaton), Germany (36.1 gigaton), Ukraine (34.4 gigaton), Poland (25.8 gigaton), Kazakhstan (25.6 gigaton) and Indonesia (22.6 gigaton). Thus, more than 90% of the world coal reserves are situated within the borders of this nine countries.
According to the research carried out by the World Energy Council, the proven and exploitable coal reserves within the world amount is 892 billion tons in total. 403 gigaton of these are in the anthracite and bituminous coal category, 287 gigaton are sub-bituminous coal, and 201 gigaton are lignite.
When the total coal production in the world in 2015 is taken into consideration, it is calculated that the global coal reserves have a lifespan of around 134 years. As a result of the serious coal exploration activities carried out in recent years, the lignite reserves in our country can be increased significantly. At the same time, the efforts directed at classifying the said reserves in accordance with international standards, and determining our economically exploitable reserves are continued.
Our country is evaluated as being at medium levels in terms of the reserves and production amounts of lignite, and also at low levels inanthracite. Approximately 3,2% of the total world reserves of lignite/sub- bituminous coal are in our country. In addition as the grade of a large portion of our lignite is low, its use in thermal plants has stood out. Approximately 46% of the lignite reserves in our country are located in the Afsin – Elbistan basin. The most important anthracite reserves of our country are in Zonguldak and the surrounding regions. The total anthracite reserves in the Zonguldak basin are 1.30 gigaton,but however the visible reserves are around 506 million tons.
Lignite/sub- bituminous coal fields are spread out among all regions of our country, and the grade of the lignite/sub- bituminous coal in these fields varies between 1000-5000 kcal/kg. Around 68% of the total lignite/sub- bituminous coal reserves in our country are low calorie, with 23,5% between 2000-3000 kcal/kg, 5,1% between 3000-4000 kcal/kg, and 3,4% is above 4000 kcal/kg grading.
By the end of 2017, Turkey possessed 145.3 million tons of Equivalent Petrol (MTEP), with the share of coal in the total primary energy consumption being 27%. As of the end of 2018, the power plant installed capacity dependent on coal in our country was 18,997 MW, and this is equal to 21.5% of the total installed capacity. The installed capacity using domestic coal is 10,203 MW (11.5%) and using imported coal is 8,794 MW (10.0%).
With the aim of meeting of the demand for energy which increased in parallel with industrialization and the increase in the population; the efforts to find new coal fields and developing the existing ones have been speeded up within the framework of the objectives of placing more importance on domestic resources and decreasing the dependence on imports in the production of energy since 2005. In addition to the 8.3 gigaton of existing reserves, 9 gigaton of new lignite reserves were determined by the end of 2014 as a result of these explorations.
In 2018, total of 113.3 TWh gross electricity was generated from coal, and this is around 37.3% of the amount in total gross electricity generation.
Our coal reserves have increased almost 11 billion tons and our lignite coal reserves whice were 8.3 billion tons in 2005 have reached 19.3 billion tons.
TABLE 1: The Lignite Reserves Discovered Between Years 2005-2015
Instead of using natural gas which is an imported resource to generate electricity, the efforts towards swiftly activating our lignite fields whose reserves have been determined and which possess the features required to establish thermal plants, into operation quickly, and the addition of new units to existing power plants has been carrying on.
Gold has been one of the most sought metals with the fundamental functions which was possessed since the ancient periods.
These important functions, usage as jewelry, the accumulation of wealth, and as a vehicle of exchange, the fact that it is easy to process, durable, and widespread in many branches of industry (electronics, aviation and space technology, medicine, dentistry, decoration and engineering sectors) establish the benefits of its use. 43% of the gold produced in the world is used as jewelry, 15% as gold coins, 37% in electronics and 5% in dentistry sectors.
By The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates, the total amount of gold reserves which are able to be processed in the world are 54,000 tons. Almost %54 of the reserves are shared between Australia, S. Africa, Russia, USA, Peru and Indonesia. World gold production was in the range of 3,260 tons in 2018 and %36 of this production was spread across these six countries.
Since the early 2000’s, gold production had a positive trend in 2013 this trend was constant and in the first three quarter of 2014, the total gold supply declined with rate of 0.1% compared to previous year and the total amount of production regressed to 3,147 tons. On the other hand, in the meanwhile, the total gold demand increased with the rate of 7.7% compared to previous year and the total amount rose to 2,958 tons. In the first three quarter of 2014, it was seen that the demands of customers in India (39%) and USA (3%) increased, on the other hand, it was recorded that the demands in China (37%), Turkey (13%) and Indonesia (45%) decreased. While the almost ¼ of total demand was supplied by recycle, the remaining part of demand was supplied by mining activities. According to the 2018 Report of the World Gold Council, the demand for gold decreased from 4,347.5 tons in 2017 to 4,159.9 tons in 2018. In other words, there was a 4% decrease in 2018 compared to the previous year.
In our country, gold deposits which was known and ongoing the exploration works are mostly in the Aegean, Western Anatolia, Eastern Black Sea, and Eastern Anatolian regions. The total amount of available workable gold reserves on metal based are 1,000 tons. Based on the geological structure and the gold formation models in the world, it is forecasted that the gold potential in Turkey is about 6,000-7,000 tons.
In Turkey, Gold is currently produced in the Gold plants in İzmir/Bergama-Ovacık, Balıkesir /Havran, Gümüşhane/Mastra, Manisa/Salihli-Sart, Erzincan/İliç, Eskişehir/Sivrihisar, Kayseri/Kocasinan and Uşak/Eşme-Kışladağ.
Table : Gold Production in Turkey (ton, in metal form)
Our country currently holds the fifth place in the world in respect of the demand for gold. More than 200 tons of gold were being imported until 2008, and it is estimated that close to half of this was processed and re-exported as jewelry. Our country is in the second place behind India in the production of gold jewelry. The amounts of gold imported to Turkey was 324 tons in 2018 and totally 3,215 tons in the last 20 years.
Amongst public opinion there is a particular sensitivity to the use of cyanide during the exploration and the processing of gold. However, today, cyanide is not used during any of the stages of gold prospecting. Gold is prospected in the same way as coal, copper, iron, boron, etc. In gold mining cyanide is only used during the stage of obtaining metal gold from the raw taken from the oven, and even then it is subject to EIA approvals and carried out in enclosed facilities where all types of security precautions have been taken. Thus, the cyanide that is used does not come into contact with nature and humans. No dangerous situations faced with in respect of humans and other living beings during the operation of gold mines, until today.
Approximately 1.5 million tons of cyanide is consumed every year, in the world. 18% of this (270.000 tons) is used in the mining sector, and the remaining 82% is used in textiles, synthetic fabric, nylon, rubber, car tires, metal processing – steel tempering, electro coating, galvanization, jewelry, the pharmaceutical industry, insecticides and pesticides, the manufacturing of indigo, optic polishers and photography. 85% of the gold production in the world is carried out with the method using cyanide. In Turkey, 300.000 tons of cyanide is used in industry every year, and only 1.5% of this is used in gold mining.
Due to its geological structure, our country possesses a wealthy potential in terms of natural stones. According to current data there are 4 billion m3 of exploitable marble, 2,8 billion m3 of exploitable travertine, and 1 billion m3 of granite reserves. According to these figures, Turkey holds close to 40% of the total natural stone reserves in the world.
Researches in Turkey shows that there are approximately 650 different color and texture types of marble in our country. Our primary natural stone products are (all with various colors and patterns) crystalline limestone (marble), limestone, onyx, conglomerate, breccia, and rocks with magmatic origin (granite, syenite, diabase, diorite, antigorite, etc.).
When evaluated together our reserves and the variety of our marble, it can be seen that the sector creates a significant source of employment, and that we possess an important place among the world markets.
The most well-known marble types in the international market by producing in Turkey are as follows: Süpren, Elazig Cherry, Aksehir Black, Manyas White, Bilecik Beige, Tiger Skin, Denizli Travertine, Aegean Claret, Milas Lilac, Gemlik Diabase and Afyon Sugar.
Today, in marble production classical methods have been replaced by modern methods. Marble processing capacities are continuously growing and the number of marble plants functioning with modern technologies are increasing. As a result of those our exports, which were of block marble for many years, are now – to a high proportion – finished goods.
In the marble sector there are 1,717 marble quarries, 2,000 small and medium-sized factories, and 9,000 workshops, employing close to 300,000 people. Almost all of the production is carried out by the private sector. According to the GDMA data, the total production of natural stones in Turkey was about 16.5 million tons in 2018.
Marble is exported in block form, or as cut and polished. The product with the highest added value in the export of natural stones is processed marble and processed travertine. The export potential of the sector is developing at pace, in parallel with investments. The country in first place in the exports of travertine, which constitute the most important part of exports, is the USA. The USA is followed by Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
The Turkish natural stones sector, which was in eighth place in the exports of natural stones just a few years ago, moved up to fifth place as of 2006. Especially for marble and travertine exports, Turkey has left China, Italy and Spain behind in 2009, and became the country realizing the largest amount of exports. While in 2018, Turkey is in the first place as top exporting country and this order was followed by Italy and Greece.
Natural Stone Exports of Turkey
Boron minerals are natural compounds which contain different amounts of boric oxide (B2O3) in their structures. Boron minerals commonly found in Turkey are tinkal, colemanite and ulexite. These minerals are primarily enriched by subjecting to physical processes to obtain concentrated boron products, and then converted into various refined boron products by chemical processes.
Boron compounds are used in many areas such as glass industry, agriculture, chemical and detergents sector, ceramic and polymeric materials, metallurgy, nano-technologies, automotive and energy sectors, electronics and communications sectors, space and aircraft vehicles, nuclear applications, military vehicles, fuels, construction. As well as boron is consumed mostly in the form of refined boron products, it can also be consumed directly as concentrated boron products. However, approximately 80% of the boron products consumed in 2017 were used in the glass, ceramic-frit, agriculture and detergent-cleaning industry. Turkey produces the highest amount of refined boron products in the world.
The most important boron reserves are located in Turkey, USA, Russia and South America. All of the known boron deposites of our country are located in Western Anatolia, specifically; Eskişehir-Kırka, Kütahya-Emet, Bursa-Kestelek and Balıkesir-Bigadiç. Turkey has a total of 3.3 billion ton of boron reserves, which equates to 73% of the total world reserves, and puts it in first place in this respect. To reveal our boron potential clearly, the reserve development endeavors are still ongoing by Bigadiç Master Project (BIGMAP). In 2018, within the scope of this project 79.150 meters of drilling was completed. By the end of June 2019, 2.356 meters of drilling was done.
The consumption of boron products throughout the world is nearly 4 million tons. Approximately 59% of world boron demand in 2018 was met by Turkey.
The refined boron production capacity of Turkey is 2.7 million tons. As of the first 6 months of 2019, the production amount of refined boron products was realized as 1,018 million tons.
In 2018, almost 2.4 million tons of boron with sales revenue exceeded 1,013 billion $ was sold. That is to say, 98% of Eti Maden’s sales revenues came from export revenues.
In order to produce boron carbide, one of the high-tech boron products, in Bandırma (Balıkesir), technical and commercial negotiations are ongoing.
In addition, the product diversification studies of BORON cleaning product which was developed as a result of R&D activities and supplied to the market are carried out by Eti Maden.
Turkey, in order to strengthen the global market position, targets a 60% market share in 2019.
Uranium and Thorium
Uranium is never found freely in nature. Uranium minerals appear when various elements come together.
There are hundreds of uranium minerals in the earth’s crust, but the large majority of these do not contain uranium at economic levels. The minerals that contain exploitable amounts of uranium are autunite, pitchblende (uraninite), coffinite and torbernite.
For today, uranium and thorium are within the scope of the raw materials of nuclear energy. However, due to the fact that economic nuclear plants based on thorium have yet to become operational, so thorium is currently waiting its turn.
The world’s uranium sources are classified as proven and possible reserves according to their varied production costs. Today, uranium is produced generally from the proven reserves for 80 US Dollars per kilogram. There are 2,60 million tonnes of proven deposits of uranium in the world.
In Turkey, the search for uranium continued until the end of 1990, and a total of 9.129 tonnes of proven uranium reserves were found in five different fields. The average grade and reserves of these were within the accepted economic limits during the years they were discovered. But today, these values are considerably lower than these limits. The reason for this is the significant changes in the planning of nuclear plants in recent years, and in particular the fact that high grade uranium fields, with very low production costs, have been found in Canada and Australia.
In Turkey, as a result of the endeavours carried out by the General Directorate of Mineral Research and Exploration in previous years, 380.000 tonnes of visible reserves with an average grade of 0.2% ThO2 were detected in a complex ore field containing rare soil elements and thorium, in Eskişehir – Sivrihisar – Kızılcaören. However, the technological issues related to the enriching of the thorium in the said field have yet to be fully resolved.
The trona ore is the most widespread of the soda minerals which are found naturally within nature. It is the underlying raw material used in the production of soda ash. It is also known as “sodium carbonate” or “natural soda”.
When compared with the boron mines, which are currently on the agenda of our country, it is present in much greater quantities than boron. Additionally, as trona is not present in Europe, and it is one of the fundamental intermediate materials used in the chemical industry, it possesses the value to be able to compete with boron in the economic sense.
Trona passes through certain procedures and processes in the commercial field before being transformed into soda ash. According to the casting concentrations it is named as “heavy soda ash” and “light soda ash”. Around 52% of natural soda ash is used in the glass industry, 27% in the chemical industry, and around 11% in the soap and detergents industry.
Today, it is estimated that the exploitable trona reserves in the world are in the region of 45 billion tonnes. Approximately 38 billion tonnes of these reserves are in the United States of America (USA). 16 million tonnes of natural soda ash is produced in the USA every year, and this meets their own domestic needs as well as being sold to the world markets, in particular the industrialised European countries.
The size of the world soda ash market is currently around 35 million tonnes of production, and around 3.5 billion dollars in value. 70% of this market is comprised of synthetically produced soda ash, and 30% is natural soda ash, produced from trona. It is expected that there will be an increase in the worldwide demand, production and sales of soda ash of around 2.5% in the coming years, and that this increase will mostly be in the glass production industry.
In addition to the reserves in the district of Beypazarı, near Ankara (approximately 250 million tonnes), approximately 650 million tonnes of reserves were discovered in the districts of Kazan and Sincan, in Ankara in 2007. Therefore, Turkey has 873 million tonnes of exploitable trona reserves, and is in second place in the world in this respect.
A project to process trona, and convert it into natural soda ash, which was carried out by private sector in Turkey, was completed on 17.03.2009, and became operational in the Beypazarı district of Ankara. These facilities were set up with an investment of around 375 million dollars, with 2 million tonnes of trona being processed every year, to obtain 1 million tonnes of natural soda ash, 100 thousand tonnes of sodium bicarbonate and 30 thousand tonnes of caustic soda.
Table: The quantities of raw coal trona produced on a yearly basis
The details presented here have been prepared with the aim of information by the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, and do not possess the characteristics of official binding documents.