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south-east european




Mineral and mining industry

in Southeast Europe

Source: Dreamstime

The mining industry in Europe has a rich, longstanding, and at some points

varied history. While it is currently held in low regard for largely fallacious

reasons and thus faces many challenges, its actual spread and diversity sur-


In terms of GDP, Europe's mining industry accounts for a small share, but it

provides a significant share of the global production of many products. It does

also stand favourable comparison with that of the USA. It is relatively weak in

many metallic products and has a strong industrial minerals bias, however.

Some features of the industry stem from its very long history, including a

legacy of state ownership and incipient protectionism, as well as complex

land ownership and mineral rights. Exploration spending is relatively low,

but Europe does have many prospectively good projects, even in metals.

The main observed obstacles are in the area of planning controls and

environmental regulation, which are global rather than specifically Euro-

pean issues.

This issue of South South-East European INDUSTRIAL Market Magazine

previews the geological situation of the south-eastern European countries, as

well as their respective mineral and mining industries within recent years. The

information has been gathered from readily available market reports and vari-

ous government studies.


As a comparatively small, mountainous country within the Western Bal-

kans that has 362 kilometers (km) of coastline on the Adriatic Sea, Alba-

nia has considerable extractable mineral deposits of chromium, coal, cop-

per, iron, nickel, and petroleum, along with potential offshore hydrocarbon

and hydroelectric power resources. Albania additionally produces cement,

clay, ferrochromium, gypsum, limestone, silica sand, and steel. The coun-

try is not a major producer of mineral commodities on a world scale, with

the exception of chromium, that accounted for about 2,5% of world pro-

duction, but within its own economy the exploration, extraction, and pro-

cessing of mineral ores brought about a considerable and growing part.

For example in 2014, mineral processing activity continued to expand,

albeit at a subdued rate, and was primarily supported by foreign direct

investment. The value of the country's mineral exports diminished due to

the recession in the economies of its leading trade partners within the

euro area.

Albania officially became a European Union (EU) candidate state in June

2014, following a 20-year economic and political transition to a free market

democracy. Although membership negotiations with the European Commis-

sion weren't launched yet, the pre-accession alignment process additionally

pushed the country's efforts to harmonize its laws, including those for the

mineral sector, with the EU body of law, particularly regarding mineral conces-

sions and hydrocarbon tenders. The Government offered concessions in or-

der to increase the production and processing of chromium, copper, and nick-

el, and to begin with production of basalt, bituminous sands, decorative stones,

and olivinite. During that period many mining permits were cancelled following

an audit of mineral exploration and extraction companies.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a mountainous, largely landlocked country on

the western Balkan Peninsula. The country borders other former Yugoslavian

republics such as Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, and has a very narrow strip of

land on the Adriatic Sea. Much of the territory consists of karst limestone. No

matter its relatively small size, Bosnia and Herzegovina has substantial min-

eral resources; the most significant among these are copper, iron ore, baux-

ite, lead, lignite, and zinc. The country also has significant hydropower and

coal-powered thermal energy potential and prospective petroleum and natural

gas resources - it is one of the very few exporters of electrical energy among

the Balkan countries.

As for the metal-processing sector, for the country it includes both ferrous

and nonferrous metals as the most valuable segment of Bosnia and Herze-

govina's mineral industry. The sector is the largest exporter of goods by value

which has registered a substantial increase in production in recent years.

The main mineral outputs of Bosnia and Herzegovina's metal-processing

sector are alumina, aluminum, iron, lead, steel, and zinc. The mineral extrac-

tion sector is generally dominated by the mine output of bauxite, coal, copper,

iron ore, lead, and zinc. Mineral fuels produced in the country are coke, lignite,

and subbituminous coal, with coal accounting for most of the domestic energy

production. Mineral output also included barite, dimension stone, limestone,

salt, and sand and gravel.