MINERAL RESOURCES AND MINING ACTIVITY IN ALBANIA
A General Overview in Mining Industry
Albania is a country with rich mineral resources. Mineral exploration, exploitation and processing constitutes a key 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. The minerals mined and treated in the past which still remain in Albania include chrome, copper, iron-nickel and coal.
Mining industry development in Albania has passed through three main stages:
The first stage includes the period before the World War II. It has been marked by two important events of the mining industry. In 1922 was compiled the first Geological Map of Albania, the first of its kind in the Balkans, whereas 1929 signs the approve of the Mining Law of the Albanian Kingdom, which paved the way to the exploration and exploitation of mineral resources.
The second stage (1944-1994) marks the period when the mining activity has been organized in state-owned enterprises.
The third stage includes the period from 1994 up to date. It is the most important period of the mining industry, during which it is enabled the transition from an economically centralized type of operation into one based on the free market.
With the assistance of the World Bank, in 1994 it was composed and approved the Mining Law of Albania.
Up to December 2nd 2008, were issued 738 mining permits out of which were 590 exploitation permits.
Out of a total of 738 mining permits, 220 permits have been issued for chrome, 30 permits for ironnickel and nickel-silicate, 259 permits for limestone, 15 permits for marble limestone, 17 permits for copper, 5 permits for coal, 2 permits for bauxite, 5 permits for quartz, 11 permits for gypsum alabaster, 35 permits for clay, 38 permits for limestone tiles, 26 permits for sandstone and 2 permits for plagiogranite.
The rest of exploitation licenses include rock types, like as fractured limestones, quartz sands, sandstones, schistes, bituminous sands and gravels, basalts, ultra basic rocks, etc.
Distribution of mining permits per district, type of mineral ore and annum, is illustrated by the map and charts 1, 2, below.
Chart 1. Number of the mining permits according to the kind of the mineral
Chart 2. Mining permits according to the years
In 1995 was approved the Law “On Concessions”. With its approval determined parts of the Mining Industry i, chrome, copper, iron-nickel and bitumen were given on concession.
The concession was applied for the determined parts of the mining industry that required overall investments in prospecting, exploration, exploitation or restructuration of the processing industry.
Mining Potential of Albania
Through studies and geologic exploration carried out in the course of the last 50 years have been concretised a lot of important mineral resources
The average content of these minerals, according to their deposits are given below on table 1.
Chrome-Chrome’s deposits Albania
Albania is known as a country with a high chrome potential, as compared to the other Mediterranean countries. The main deposits of this mineral are situated in the Ophiolites of the Eastern Belt area, along the direction Tropoja-Kukës-Bulqiza-Shebenik.
Least development is identified in the deposits of this mineral in the western belt of ophiolites.
From the geographic perspective, there are three main regions where chrome is located:
- North-eastern Region (Tropoja and Kukës Ultrabisc Massifs)
- Central Region (Bulqiza Ultrabasic Massif).
- Southeastern Region (Shebenik-Pogradec Ultrabasic Massif)
The Ultrabasic Massif of Bulqiza is the massif with the biggest chrome potential. In this massif is explored and is being exploited the chrome mine “Northern Bulqiza”.
The perspective areas for exploration-exploitation of chrome ore can probably be: the region of Shebenik- Pogradec, deepness of Northern Bulqiza deposit, Qafe-Buall deposit, Bater-Lugu i Gjate-Fushe Lope area, Liqeni i Sopeve-Theker-Ternove and Thekna in deepness area, the area in the region of Kalimashi and deepness of Valna deposit and also the area around Zogaj deposits.
Based on the geologic conditions, their morphology, genetic and mineralogical components, are distinguished four main types of copper deposits:
- Hydrothermal-metasomatic and volcanogenic-sedimentary deposits, such as Munella, Qafë-Bari, Gurth, Rruga e Rinisë, etc.
- Volcanogenic-hydrothermal-metasomatic vain deposits, such as Tuç, Spaç, Derven, Paluce, etc.
- Volcanogenic-sedimentary deposits, such as Munella, Gjegjan, Palaj, Karma, Rubik.
- Massif sulphide metasomatic deposits, such as Kurbnesh, Golaj, Thirra, Nikoliq, etc.
There are considerable sulphur deposits in the Western and Eastern Belt of Ophiolites.
Perspective areas for exploration and exploitation of copper reserves wealth can be alongside and in the deepness of Munella, Gurth, Perlat, Karmë and Rehova deposits.
Albania – Iron-Nickel and Nickel-Silicate
Iron-nickel and nickel-silicate are mainly located in Devoll (Bilisht, Bitincka, etc), Pogradec (Guri Kuq, Çervenaka, etc), Librazhd (Prrenjas, Skroskë, Xixillas, Bushtrice), Kukes (Mamez, Trull Surroj, Nome).
The deposits are composed by the following mineral ores:
- Nickel-silicate ore of the remaining crust or primary crust,
- Iron-nickel ores,
- Re-deposited or secondary crust nickel-silicate ores.
Perspective areas for exploration and exploitation of iron-nickel and nickel-silicate ore can be: Bilisht- Kapshtice, Skroske-Bushtrice, deepness of Prrenjas deposit, Trull Surroj-Mamez and Kukes-Has region.
The average content of nickel – silicate and iron-nickel according to their regions are given below on table.
Albania has considerable coal reserves, which are mainly located in three coal reserves areas:
- Tirana region, about 86% of reserves
- Korçe- Pogradec region, 10% of reserves
- Memaliaj region, 4% of reserves
Albanian coal reserves are of the lignite type, with a calorific analytic power in the limits between 2000-5600 kcal/kg .
Peats constitute another energetic resource and are located in the South-eastern part of Albania (Maliq) , with these qualificative indicators.
- Calorific power: 2200 kcal/kg
- Humidity: 11%
- Volatile particles: 39%
- Sulphur presence: 1.1%
Natural Bitumen and Bituminous Substances
Albania is characterised by a significant presence of natural bitumen, which results from the natural transformation of petroleum in the oil deposit areas, particularly near the major tectonic falls. They are mostly occurring between limestone and bituminous dolomites, in schistes and sands.
The high-quality bitumen deposit is located in Selenica (Vlora region). From this mine is extracted a porous bitumen, which is plastic and polished. It is a high quality bitumen containing 15-17% ashes, with a melting point of 105-115° C.
Like the natural bitumen, this mineral is found in Selenica and contains free carbon at 70-92% and releases a calorific power of 3500-7500 Kcal/kg (or 14,7-31,5 MJ/kg).
Considerable deposits of bituminous sands are discovered in the areas of Treblove, Kasnice and Visoke
Bituminous sands in Albania present the petroleum floating asphalt and the gas stratifications. The mode of forming is the same with that of tar sands formed in Venezuela, Canada (Alberta), etc.
Albania is rich with non-metalliferous industrial minerals, which constitute an extraordinary asset for the country that needs to become a marketed component as their best use possible could have a significant impact on the economic consolidation.
Each of the non-metalliferous minerals has specific importance, but the most needed ones are those found in considerable amount and which have a broad scope of application, such as limestone and dolomites, clays, gypsums and anhydrites, all types of decorative stones, basalts, etc. without excluding olivinites, caolines, volcanic glass, granites, phosphorites, etc.
Deposits of non-metalliferous minerals
Limestones represent the carbonatic raw material, distributed from the oldest Triassic-Jurassic depositaries up to the youngest ages of Cretaceous and Eocene, in the form of massifs, layers and belts, in almost all districts of the country as, Tropoja, Kukesi, Shkodra, in the North up to Korça, Kolonja and Gjirokaster in the South.
There are recognised about 60 deposits of limestones objects calculated with huge quantities with an open perspective to enlarge. Limestones are used for the cement productions, lime and construction aggregates.
Dolomites as limestones are widely spread in Albania in the form of seams, packs and belts of considerable dimensions. Dukat deposit is the main deposit with an average content of MgO, 18-21 %. Dolomites seams are located in the Borsh, Kurbin and Kruja region with an average of 18%.
There are more than 33 deposits of dolomites, travertine, marls and trepel, with a huge quantities of reserves.
Carbonatic Decorative Stones
Carbonatic decorative stones are mainly located in the Korabi zone, in the peripheral parts of Mirdita tectonic zone. In the Alps regions, in Krasta-Cukali, Kruja and that Jonic, starting from Tropoja and Kukes in the North, continuing in the South with Dibra, Bulqiza, Mat, Librazhd, Pogradec, Korca, Kolonja and the zones of Lezha, Kruja, Tirana, Elbasan, Lushnja, Vlora, Tepelena, Gjirokaster and Saranda, in the South.
There are about 90 deposits of decorative carbonatic and ophiolitic stones in huge quantities, with opened perspective to be enlarged.
Actually, the usage of decorative stone in construction sector is low.
The phosphorites deposits are located mainly in the carbonatic rocks of Jonic tectonic zone, in the regions of Tepelena (Gusmar), Gjirokaster (Fushe Bardha), Saranda, etc.
Actually 12 phosphorite deposits have been discovered, with a considerable quantity of reserves.
There are huge quantities of clay reserves. There are over 90 deposits of different kinds of clays as follows:
Porcelanous clays in Tamara and Burrel
Montmorillonite, atapulgite clays in Shëngjin and Burrel
Flysch Clays are deposited in over eight occurrences such as: Bradasheshi (Elbasan), Drisht and Tarabosh in Shkodra, Brar in Tirana, etc. A specific characteristic of these clays is the high CaO presence, making them appropriate for the cement production.
Silica Sands and Quartzites
Findings speak of almost 30 deposits of quartzes and silica sand with considerable mineral reserves. Silica sands are used in glass production, abrasive and metallurgy. The average contents of silica sand is above 80% SiO2 , about 10% Al2O3 and Fe2O3
Thanks to the geological workings an important quantity of gypsum reserves has been discovered. The main gypsum deposits are located in Dumre, Kavaja, Vlora Saranda and Dibra regions.
The main deposts of rock salt are located in Mengaj, Tile and Dhrovjan areas. The quantity of reserves estimated in these deposits is more than some hundred million tons with a content of NaCl =76-82%.
Almost 52 deposits of river-bed aggregates (sand and gravel) have been studied and discovered throughout all the rivers of the country, with a huge quantity reserves estimated.
The olivinite deposits are mainly locate in the Eastern Belt of ultrabasic massifs. The most important deposits are located in Kukes and Tropoja-ultrabasic massifs. The olivinittes may be used as a refractory material, when they are fresh and the MgO content in them is at 46-48 %, but they may also be used as decorative stones.
Volcanic glasses are represented by volcanic middle-acid lime rocks and acid aquiferous rocks, which, subjected to a technologic process at the temperature of 900-1200° C, may be expanded within 30-60 seconds, enlarging the volume with 5-20 times.
Volcanic glasses deposits are locatedin the volcanic complex of Central Mirëdita, mainly in the western part of Munella mountain, from Marshterkor in south up to Lak Roshi in the north.
Magnesites deposits are located in the ultrabasic rocks which are connected with moulder and serpentized peridotites in the massifs of our country (Gomsiqe, Levrushk, Korthpulë, Shahinaj, Shengjun, Lucanë, Devoll)
Albania has several massifs known as bearers of small granite occurrences (Trokuzë, Levrushk, Fierza, Radomir, Peladhi, etc.). The mineralization in Levrushk granite massif is represented by (feldspar quartz), which can be used in glass and ceramics production.
Ophiolitic Decorative Stones
These kind of stones can be found in Mirdita area, from Tropoja to Kukes in north, down to Korca and Kolonja in south.
There are 20 discovered deposits of ophiolitic decorative stones, which contain more than some million m3 of reserves.
The further geological study of these deposits can be a source for the increase of its using direction and enlarge the quantity of reserves..
Basalts arelocated in Mirëdita tectonic zone, in the northern part of Kukës region, Puka, Mirëdita, as well as in Korca and Kolonja.
By this huge quantity of reserves, located from North to South, can fulfil not only the requests of the country but to export them.
Mining Industry Development Trends and Priorities
- Production increase of the traditional, such as chrome, copper, nickel, as well as enhancement of their processing scale, in order to make them competitive in supplying the domestic and foreign market;
- Expansion of the production range and processing of other minerals, such as bituminous sands, olivinites, basalts, decorative stones, etc.;
- Promotion of all the existing reserves, enabling the exploitation, processing and marketing of the products, both for the domestic and foreign market;
- Application of updated technologies in mines and processing units (enriching plants, breaking-fractioning-grinding plants, metallurgic factories, etc.), enabling a complex mineral exploitation;
Enhancement of management methods. Effective utilization of the existing mineral resources and of those to be found in the future, in order to introduce them in the market and eye an increase of revenues from their exportation, as well as raw or processed products.
Legislation on Mining Activity
- “Mining Law of Albania” No.7796, date 17.02.1994, amended by the Law No.9261, date 22.07.2004 and the Law No.9667, date 29.12.2006. The approvement and amendment of this Law facilitated the procedures to attract and guarantee the foreign and domestic investments in mining activity.
- Law No.9126, date 29/07//2003 “For civil using of explosives in the Republic of Albania”.
- Mining activity related with projecting assesing, advising, monitoring and technical administration of mining activities is curried out by mining specialists, who have obtained a permit by the National Agency of Natural Resources (AKBN) according to the criterias approved by the Council of Ministres (article 20 of Mining Law of Albania).
- The law “On Concessions”.
- The law “On National Taxes”.
The draft of the new “Mining Law of Albania” is prepared and is in process of approve by the Albanian Parliament.