Mining industry in Albania

EnergyTechnical ArticlesSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 4/2023 • 07.11.2023

Albania is a country relatively rich in mineral resources. Mineral exploration, exploitation and processing constitute an important component of the Albanian economy, due to a traditional mining industry, that has been a solid foundation to the country economic sector, generating substantial revenues. Chrome, copper, iron-nickel and coal, are some of the minerals that have been mined and treated in Albania for a long period.

 

Mining industry development in Albania has passed through three main stages. The first stage encompasses the period up to the end of World War II, marked by two important events. In 1922, the first Geological Map of Albania was compiled, which was even the first of its kind in the Balkans. In 1929, the first Mining Law of the Albanian Kingdom has been approved, which paved the way to the exploration and/or exploitation of mineral resources in Albania. The second stage (1944 – 1994) marks the period when the mining activity has been organized in state-owned enterprises and the concept of mining privatization did not exist. The third stage includes the period 1994 up to date. It began with the mining’s privatization after the approval of Albanian Mining Law.

Reflecting a varied geological structure, Albania has a wealth of natural resources, including chromium, copper, iron/nickel, coal, oil, bauxite, phosphorate, asbestos, bituminous sands, pyrites and nickel silicate, as well as limestone, sands, marble, and clays. The major resources currently exploited are chromium (third largest producer in the world), copper, iron/nickel, limestone, phosphorite, and coal.

 

Coal mining

The history of coal production in Albania includes mines and beneficiation plants. This industry is mainly located in the central, south eastern and southern part of Albania.
In Albania, the coal reserves according to the closure projects there are about 130 million tons of usable reserves and they are located at the following 3 main sources: about 86% of the reserves are located in the Tirana area; about 10% of the reserves are located in the Korca-Pogradeci area; about 4,4% of the reserves are located in the area of Memaliaj.

Albania’s coal is generally of the lignite type with an analytical calorific value of 2000 – 5400 kcal/kg (average 3200 – 3300). Some of the coal can be enriched after mining, producing concentrates with a calorific value up to 4500 – 5500 kcal/kg.

In the coal-bearing deposits of Morava, Gore- Mokra, Tirana, Erzeni, Memaliaj, Bezhan and Alarupi are located 19 coal deposits that were exploited up to 1995. In the coal-bearing deposits of Goliku, Galush, Burrel, Devoll, Fushe Korca, Tropoja and Xara, there are mainly mineral occurrences with poor coal and limited size. Coal occurrences are found in other places as well – Lushnje, Kucove etc. These have not been evaluated for their quantitative and qualitative features.

 

Chromium ore

Albania is well known for its important potential in regards to chromium ore, compared to the other Mediterranean and Balkan countries. At the end of 2018, there were 260 active mining exploitation licenses. Production activities are concentrated in the Bulqiza region with about 121 active permits followed by the Kukes, Tropoja and Librazhd regions. By the end of 2018, 31,19 million tons of chromium ore were produced in this branch of the mining industry, mainly for export.

The main chromium deposits are located in the Ophiolites of the Eastern Belt area, to Tropoja-Kukes-Bulqiza-Shebenik-Pogradec direction. More limited development in the chromium ore deposits has been identified in the Ophiolites of the Western belt.

 

Copper

Copper deposits are located in six districts: Korca, Mirdita, Puka, Shkodra, Kukes, and Has regions. Mirdita and Puka regions have an important copper potential considering the annual production and number of the mining deposits.

Based on the geologic conditions, their morphology, genetic and mineralogical components, three main types of copper deposits are distinguished:

  • Plutonic type, quartz-sulphur – this type includes deposits located in Nikoliq 1, 2, Golaj, Krume, Gdheshte, Thire, Shemri, Tuci Lindor, Kurbnesh, Kabash, Kcire, Turec regions and a lot of mineralized occurrences in plutonic, gabbror and plagiogranite intruzives rocks.

  • Volcanogenic type, includes deposits such as Perlat, Munelle, Lak Roshi, Tug, Paluce, Qaf Bari, Gurth 1,2,3, Spac, Kaginar, Derven, Rehove, Bregu i Geshtenjes, Dushku i Trashe, etc.

  • Volcanogenic-sedimentary type includes deposits in Gjegjan, Porave, Palaj, Karma, Rubik and other mineralized occurrences around these deposits.

  • Some perspective areas for copper exploration and/or exploitation may probably be alongside and in the depth of Munella, Gurth, Perlat, Karma and Rehove deposits.

 

Iron-nickel

Iron-nickel and nickel-silicate can be found near Albania’s East border, from the North-East to the South-East area. The deposits are located as follows: North-East region (Kukes): Trull Surroi, Mamez, Nome deposits; East Central region (Librazhd-Pogradec regions): Perrenjas, Skorske, Xixillas, Bushtrice, Gur i Kuq, Cervenake, Guri Pergjegjur, Hudenisht and Gradisht deposits; West Central region includes deposits of the group of laterite-redeposited type. Liqeni i Kuq, Xhumage, Debrove, that have lower qualitative properties than the other groups; South-East region deposits, iron-nickel and nickel- silicate deposits of Devolli region: Bitincke, Kapshtice Strane, Kokogllave, and a few less studied objects such as Verniku, Shkoza etc.

 

Non-metallic minerals

According to the Albanian Geological Survey, there are approximately 32 different kinds of rocks and non-metallic industrial minerals, spread all over the country, in 438 deposits and mining objects. The evaluations completed so far show considerable reserves and with an open perspective for lots of them, guaranteeing Albanian economy empowerment.

Limestone represents the carbonate raw material, of different geological ages, in the form of massifs, layers and belts, in almost all districts of the country. There are about 55 deposits of limestone recognized, with approximately 450 million m3 geological reserves, with an open perspective to expand.
Dolomites are widely spread in Albania. They are located in Albanian Alps, Has, Korab, Kruja, Kurbin, Tomorr, Elbasan, Gramsh, Vlore, Himare, Delvine and Gjirokastra districts.

Based on chemical composition, dolomites located in Dukat (Vlora region), Delvina, Himare and Mali I Gjere (in Gjirokastra region), have high technological qualities with an average content of MgO around 20 – 21 %. There is an open perspective for 8 deposits with approximately 150 million m3 geological reserves.
Travertine is a carbonate porous rock and can be found in Tropoje, Has, Diber, Bulqize, Elbasan, Gramsh, Lushnje, Librazhd, Korce, Kolonje, Permet, Gjirokaster, Delvine and Saranda districts. The mix of dolomite-limestone-travertine creates high quality decorative deposits as for example is the deposit of Kosova (Lushnja district). From the evaluations completed in 18 deposits and objects, there are calculated to be approximately 23 million m3 geological reserves. The travertine of Kruma, Burizane, Golloborde, Bajram Curri, Malesia e Shkodres etc. remain to be evaluated through geological works.

Based on the geological works carried out up to the year 1991, 10 phosphorite deposits have been discovered and evaluated connected to the phosphatic horizon of Cretaceous and 2 phosphatic uranium-bearing deposits in Fushe-Bardhe and Bogaz regions connected to Jurassic epochs. From the estimation carried out in 12 studied deposits, a quantity of 57 million tonnes of geological reserves are calculated and with a perspective for their further enlargement.

Quartzite and siliceous rocks include the raw materials as quartz, sandstones and quartz sands. The most studied types of quartz are: Shishtaveci’s and Kallabaku quartz, sandstones and quartz sandstones of Tirana and Bilishti districts. A more detailed study is needed because of their importance and their wide use. From the evaluations carried out in 28 deposits and objects, there are calculated approximately 190 million tonnes geological reserves.

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