Albania: Mining, Minerals and Fuel Resources

This article was updated on 29 November 2023.

Albania is situated in southeastern Europe, occupying the western region of the Balkan Peninsula. It covers a total land area of 28,748 square kilometers, with Tirana serving as its capital. The country is renowned for its abundant mineral resources, many of which have been identified and exploited since ancient times and continue to be a valuable asset for the nation.

mining, albania

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A Brief Overview of the Mining Industry in Albania

Albania possesses a considerable wealth of mineral resources. Pursuing these minerals through exploration, extraction, and refinement is essential to the Albanian economy.

This reputation is attributed to the long-term presence of a conventional mining sector that has provided a robust foundation for the nation's economic domain, yielding substantial financial gains. Albania contains many different types of minerals that have been mined for an extended period, including chrome, copper, iron-nickel, and coal.

Historical Perspective of the Mining Sector in Albania

The development of the mining industry in Albania has progressed through three primary phases. The initial phase extends from the early years up to the conclusion of World War II, marked by two noteworthy milestones.

In 1922, the first Geological Map of Albania was meticulously crafted, a pioneering achievement within the country and throughout the Balkans. Subsequently, in 1929, the inaugural Mining Law of the Albanian Kingdom was formally approved, establishing the groundwork for mineral resource exploration and exploitation in Albania.

The second phase, spanning from 1944 to 1994, denotes an era during which mining activities were centralized within state-owned enterprises, and the notion of mining privatization remained nonexistent.

The third and current phase encompasses the period from 1994 onwards. It ushered in the era of mining privatization following the endorsement of the Albanian Mining Law.

Current State and Trajectory of Albanian Mining and Mineral Industry

Anticipated GDP derived from the mining sector in Albania is projected to reach 58,724.00 million Albanian Lek (ALL) by the conclusion of the current quarter, as per the analyses conducted by Trading Economics' global macro models and expert expectations.

Over the extended horizon, it is envisaged that Albania's GDP from mining will follow an upward trajectory, approximating 59,605.00 million ALL in 2024 and further ascending to 61,394.00 million ALL in 2025, following the forecasts generated by econometric models.

Major Mineral Resources in Albania

Albania contains substantial reserves of many minerals. Chromium ore is a significant mineral in Albania. As per the official report published by the National Agency of Natural Resources, by the end of 2018, 31.19 million tons of chromium ore were produced by the mining sector for export. The primary chromium deposits can be found in the Ophiolites of the Eastern Belt region.

Copper is also a significant mineral resource in Albania, and the Mirdita and Puka regions hold noteworthy copper potential, considering both annual production and the number of mining deposits available.

Iron-nickel and nickel-silicate reserves are situated near the eastern border of Albania, extending from the northeastern to the southeastern region.

Table: Average content of nickel-silicate and iron-silicate according to regions. Credit: National Agency of Natural Resources

Sr. No.

Region

Fe%

Ni%

SiO2%

Co%

1.

Devolli

 

 

 

 

 

Nickel-Silicate

16.60

1.20

35.12

0.0397

 

Iron-Nickel

38.66

1.074

12.2

0.056

2.

Kukës

 

 

 

 

 

Nickel-Silicate

21.73

1.057

40.12

0.053

 

Iron-Nickel

37.22

1.029

26.93

0.0547

3.

Librazhd-Pogradeci

 

 

 

 

 

Iron-Nickel

44.72

0.97

17.22

0.074

 

A total of 32 different types of rocks and non-metallic minerals are dispersed all along Albania. Limestone in the form of layers is present at 55 different geological sites in Albania, compounding a 450 million m3 geological reserve.

Dolomites are abundant in the Albanian Alps, Korab region, Himare, and other places. These dolomites are regarded as higher quality, with around 20% Magnesium Oxide in their composition. Additionally, 34 gypsum deposits were recorded until 2019, culminating in around 83 million tons.

Key Players in the Albanian Mining Market

The interest of the Albanian government has allowed many key companies to develop successful mining operations all over the country.

The Albanian Minerals is one of the largest producers of Chromium ore in Albania. Tete-Mine is another famous company for copper mining. It has successfully generated 3.6 million tons of copper in 10 years.

Tete company began its association with the Albanian government around 23 years ago. Furthermore, the Yildirim group is also a major stakeholder in the minerals and mining sector in Albania.

Technological Advancement to Mining 5.0 Technology

Technological milestones are being achieved specifically related to the mining industry to ensure the supply of useful materials. As per the latest article published in Applied Sciences, the mining industry is going through the fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0 advancement, but simultaneously, the framework is being developed for the fifth revolutionary technology in the mining and minerals sector.

The fourth revolution involves the rapid digitalization of mining operations with the introduction of the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI). This has led to intelligent monitoring of mining operations, while machine learning is being implemented to optimize ore processing.

The utilization of neural networks in the planning of rock blasting in both underground and surface mines has proven particularly effective, as it is focused on enhancing the efficiency of blasting operations. Data analysis techniques for rapid data processing from sensors are also proving to be useful in modern times.

The shift toward Mining 5.0 involves the integration of collaborative autonomous robots, bio-extraction of valuable minerals, post-mining activities, and upgrading mining regions. This transition is facilitated by the merging of information, cognitive, and biochemical technologies with conventional geo-technology.

Sustainable Development Model for the Albanian Mining Sector

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) shaped a developmental framework for Albania's mining sector. Sustainable development within Albania's mining policy encompasses legal frameworks, policies, programs, and action plans based on three key pillars. These pillars consist of promoting investment development, ensuring the responsible utilization of natural resources while maintaining environmental friendliness, and certifying the welfare of local communities.

The government aims to enhance the business environment by implementing strategic planning as a foundation for sustainability. This initiative seeks to augment the contribution of extractive industries to the GDP, transforming this sector into a driving force for Albania's economic development.

Challenges and the Future of Mining in Albania

In short, Albania has a substantial wealth of minerals. The mineral sector in Albania encounters several obstacles, including declining social approval, a deficiency of fresh exploration initiatives in various regions, discrepancies in resource estimation, and a shortage of proficient technical, scientific, and managerial personnel engaged in the complete mineral activity cycle.

However, the interest of the Albanian government shall prove useful for eliminating these problems. The government is collaborating and inviting companies to invest in the Albanian market. Albania also signed a memorandum with Serbia to join forces to commercialize the mining sector. 

References and Further Reading

The National Agency of Natural Resources, (2019). Invest in Albanian Natural Resources. [Online] Available at: http://www.akbn.gov.al/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Mineral-Resources-20221.pdf [Accessed 27 September 2023].

Trading Economics, (2023). Albania GDP From Mining. [Online] Available at: https://tradingeconomics.com/albania/gdp-from-mining [Accessed 26 September 2023].

Borojević et al. (2022). The future of mining in the Adria region: current status, SWOT and Gap analysis of the mineral sector. Geologia Croatica, 75(Special issue), 317-334. Available at: https://www.doi.org/10.4154/gc.2022.26

Zhironkin. et al. (2023). Review of Transition from Mining 4.0 to Mining 5.0 Innovative Technologies. Applied Sciences. 13(8). 4917. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/app13084917

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Ibtisam Abbasi

Written by

Ibtisam Abbasi

Ibtisam graduated from the Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering. During his academic career, he has worked on several research projects and has successfully managed several co-curricular events such as the International World Space Week and the International Conference on Aerospace Engineering. Having won an English prose competition during his undergraduate degree, Ibtisam has always been keenly interested in research, writing, and editing. Soon after his graduation, he joined AzoNetwork as a freelancer to sharpen his skills. Ibtisam loves to travel, especially visiting the countryside. He has always been a sports fan and loves to watch tennis, soccer, and cricket. Born in Pakistan, Ibtisam one day hopes to travel all over the world.

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