Greek Mineral Resources: An Untapped Potential
Five Reasons to Invest in Greece’s Mineral Resources Sector
1. Unique and highly marketable minerals, some in comparably high quantities
2. A sector with considerable experience and global presence. Excellent reputation of Greek mineral products in global markets
3. Well-educated and experienced technical staff and highly-skilled workforce
4. Generous investment incentives and Fast Track Law supporting large investments
5. New tenders and projects underway
- Mining has contributed significantly to the economic development of Greece since ancient times.
- The Greek mineral industry produces and/or processes: metals, industrial minerals and mineral fuels.
- Greece possesses substantial mineral wealth, consisting of a variety of minerals and ores with a strong industrial market interest.
- The high quality and the many specialized uses of minerals available in Greece provide significant comparative advantages.
Strong Business Potential and Sound Industrial Capacity
- The Greek mining/metallurgical industry is an important sector of economic activity in the country. It accounts for approximately 4% of GDP, with the inclusion of interrelated enterprises such as quarrying, processing, and production of intermediate and final products. It supplies essential raw materials to industries such as cement, energy production, non-ferrous metals (aluminum, nickel). The estimated sales of the country’s mineral industry and basic metallurgies reach almost 2.1 billion Euros.
- The industry is a major source of employment in the country: approximately 80,000 people are employed directly or indirectly in the sector.
- The Greek mining industry has strong, outward-looking characteristics; the exports account for more than 70% of sales, and for certain minerals, Greece holds a leading position in the global market.
- Greek mining companies are well managed and hold significant market shares worldwide in products such as bauxite, alumina, aluminum, nickel, caustic calcined magnesia, dead burned magnesia, raw magnesite, pumice, silica and ornamental stones (principally marble).
- New National Policy for the exploitation of mineral resources in place
- Strong and continuous political support to implement investment in the sector
- Fast Track Law supporting the accelerated licensing procedures for mining activities
- Greece possesses rare metals and minerals and it is the only producer of huntite-hydromagnesite and the biggest producer of perlite in the world. Greece is the second biggest producer of bentonite in the world and the leading exporter of magnesite in the EU.
- Privatization of the state owned company LARCO, the 5th biggest ferronickel producer in the world
- International public tenders for the exploitation of public mining sites
- Privately owned companies looking for equity
The mining sector in Greece
The minerals as mineral raw materials are natural sources of wealth. The mining sector’s contribution to the GDP is on average 1,8 % in the last 10 years. Taking into account the manufacturing sector, which includes the metallurgical companies, as well as the enterprises of processing, standardization and production of intermediate and final products from mineral raw materials, it is estimated that the above rate has more than doubled.
Greece may not produce (actually it has not carried out any research yet) high-tech metals such as titanium, platinum, lithium, rhenium, tantalum and rare earth metals (neodymium, dysprosium, etc.), but it is an important producer of basic metals and industrial minerals, some of them with international credentials.
The exports of primary source and processed materials account for more than 65% of the sales in mining industry, while companies of this sector hold leading positions in the European and international markets in products such as bauxite, alumina, aluminum, nickel, caustic magnesia, bentonite, perlite , pumice stone and marbles. For example, Greece is the only country in the world capable of producing huntite, the leading producer of perlite, the second producer of pumice and bentonite and the first magnesite export country in the EU.
The exploitation of the country’s mineral wealth contributes significantly, among other things, to the regional development because the mining industry is mainly active in peripheral regions, employs a considerable number of workers from the local communities and develops a variety of other jobs supporting the productive work of mining. There are 11 mines that operate in Macedonia and Thrace.
Approximately 300.000 people are employed annually in the mining industry which is directly dependent and influenced by the international environment. Therefore, the globalized action of companies is of primary importance, based on the continuous modernization, wide knowledge of foreign markets and international competition as well.
In recent years, a decline has been observed in mining activity at both Greek and European level. The globalization of markets seems to affect negatively the competitiveness of Greek but also European mining companies, in comparison with that of third country firms. The key factors are the large difference in labor costs, workplace safety requirements and environmental precautions. The new challenges are mainly related to the modernization of production, quality assurance and environmental protection.[SOURCE: http://www.oryktosploutos.net/2011/01/blog-post_12.html#.VOneJHwQvpU ]
Greek mineral wealth: hopefully 2015 holds great promise
In 2014 there were only a few new activities related to the exploitation of the mineral wealth of the country. Apart from the investments in the Greek gold in Halkidiki, no new mine or quarry of aggregates and industrial minerals was in operation, with a few exceptions relating to specific cases which do not actually constitute new investments.
No tender was awarded except those concerning the three hydrocarbons fields (Ioannina, Katakolon and Western Gulf of Patras) and the concession of the Vevi lignite mine while its ratification is expected by the Greek parliament. Unlike, other tenders that had been assessed (e.g. Kilkis since 2012) as well as other investments remain in a state of uncertainty. At the same time 20 Public Mining Areas and 9 Public Lands of Industrial Minerals have been assessed as suitable sites for new tenders (the award of research or exploitation rights through a tender). S&B Industrial Minerals S.A., one of the most historical production units in the country, was sold to a foreign business group, Imerys. The future for GMM LARCO SA is still uncertain.
Several new licenses were granted for marble, natural stone (stones, shale etc.) and ceramic clay quarries. Fortunately, the exports of marbles continued in the global market signaling the beginning of a new era for the Greek marble.
There was no institutionalization for any quarrying area for the “hospitality” of aggregate quarries. The Draft Mineral (Exploration and Exploitation) Bill that was drawn up by the services (and not by the usual individuals) remains in the closet while the Law 4262/2014 that treats the mines as if they are retail stores and the OECD toolbox that – among others – abolishes the statistics for mineral raw materials have been already enacted!
The geothermal energy faces similar problems without any investment in high-enthalpy geothermal resources for electricity generation and with significant problems in the leasing of low enthalpy fields by the regional administration. Meanwhile, we are about to lose a great opportunity to take advantage of this gift from the God, the geothermal energy, which is a renewable energy source that does not depend on weather conditions (like the other RES) or seasons of the year (like the biomass cultivation) nor faces the problem of intermittent production, an advantage that can render it a primary energy source, replacing – if possible- the lignite units.
The tenders for the hydrocarbon fields are underway amid a very bad year for oil production, which had the worst annual performance since 2008 as oil lost half its value compared to high prices of last year. Almost immediately after the elections, on February 6, the deadline expired for the submission of proposals for the signing of contracts in the three land areas of northwestern Peloponnese, Etoloakarnania and Arta-Preveza (for 20 land blocks the deadline expires in May). The EDEY S.A. was established by the Presidential Decree 14 (G.G. A 21/13.02.2012) for which the President and the first board of directors were appointed but it has not yet been staffed with personnel.
Let’s not refer to the research carried out in universities, the programs of the Institute of Geology & Mineral Exploration (IGME), the collection of fees due to the State by private mines and the services developed by the new Ministry of Reconstruction of Production, Environment and Energy.
The IGME/N.S.C.D. has not yet a board of directors and according to the latest delegating decisions the supervision is not entrusted to the Minister of Reconstruction of Production, Environment and Energy who is responsible for the issues of mineral wealth but to the Alternate Minister who in turn assigns it to the Secretary General of the ministry who apparently is not the Secretary General of Energy and Mineral Wealth, namely the responsible for the relevant issue!
The Mines Inspection, following the formulation of the new Ministry, is relegated into departments whose supervision is entrusted to the Special Secretary for Water who, apart from the waters, will deal with the controls, safety measures, fines and accidents in the mines and quarries! The Mines Inspection, besides it relegation to departments, is separated from the competent General Directorate of Economic Policy and the supervisor of the mineral wealth General Secretary and Deputy Minister.
Let’s look at the future with realism and leave the past behind us or rather let’s rely upon the past to build a better now and tomorrow. The case of Amfipolis is indicative. When everyone is looking for hope in the future, we did something different, we searched two thousand years back in the past. Not normally but with an unexplained obsession. It is our obsession with the outstanding issues that we carry from the past. Let’s put aside all those who speak constantly in front of cameras and TV channels in order to gain recognition and believe the honest people, namely those who do their job, the job they know very well and for which they have pursued studies. People who do not scream slogans and just do their job. And let’s help so they soon become more!
The country has a strategic geopolitical advantage in the area which should not be allowed to go to waste. Greece cannot afford to forgo any of its sources of wealth. The mining activity can contribute significantly to the growth model of the country with the exploitation of mineral raw materials and the creation of new jobs. Our mineral wealth is the property of Greek people, so we need to confirm it as a whole and take advantage of it for the benefit of society and with the maximum possible added value for the country. The role of the state is to create the necessary conditions for that and this can be achieved in a certain way, namely by forming presentable structures and not small disposable “messiahs”…[SOURCE: [http://www.oryktosploutos.net/2015/01/2015.html#.VOndUnwQvpV, Petros Tzeferis]
Minerals and Metallurgy—Unique Prospects
The Greek mining and metallurgical sector, with roots in ancient times, offers investors attractive potential for investment in an area with significant resources and strong demand.
From the days when the famous marble of Penteli was quarried to build the Acropolis of Athens, Greece has been known for its superb mining wealth. Today, Greek marble remains in demand worldwide and other minerals as well share the spotlight in international markets.
The Greek mining and metallurgical industry accounts for approximately 4 percent of GDP and employs approximately 80,000 workers. An important part of the production provides raw materials for cement manufacturing, which is one of the most energy intensive industrial processes, and manufacturing of non-ferrous metals such as aluminum and nickel. With annual sales of almost 1.2 billion euros, the sector is an important source of employment and future growth.
The mining industry has a strong outward-looking profile and the exports account for more than 70% of sales. Greece holds a leading position for certain minerals in the global market.
Greek mining companies are well-run and hold significant market shares worldwide in products such as bauxite, alumina, aluminum, nickel, caustic calcined magnesia, dead burned magnesia, raw magnesite, pumice, silica and ornamental stones.
Greece has also gold deposits and significant gold reserves have been identified in Thrace.
In 2011, Canadian Eldorado Gold Corporation acquired all of the issued and outstanding common shares of European Goldfields Ltd. and its multi-stage assets located in Greece. The total transaction value was approximately C$2.5 billion. In Greece, it owns Thracian Gold Mining.
Describing its operations in Greece, Thracian Gold Mining has stated: “Nature has been generous in the region of Thrace, as far as the gold reserves in Perama, which is geographically located in a highland region away from urban centers, without any development pattern, and thus it is proper for mining operations.
“The Perama Hill gold project, located in the northeastern Greece, in the borders between Rodopi and Evros Prefectures, is a late-stage development project in Greece. The project, with presently proven and probable reserves of 975,000 ounces of gold, will be developed as an open pit mine producing approximately 120,000 ounces annually at cash costs projected to be less than US $300 per ounce. Total invested capital will be approximately 150 million Euros.”
Other Specific Projects
Privatisation of LARCO, the 5th largest nickel producing company in the world. According to the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy, 55.2% of the shares of LARCO that belong to the Hellenic Republic will be sold. The Ministry of Finance has appointed HSBC Bank PLC and PriceWaterhouseCoopers Business Solutions as financial advisors.
Larco General Mining & Metallurgical Company S.A. engages in exploring, mining, smelting, and marketing ferronickel. It sells nickel and aggregates to steel producers in Europe. The company also provides slag for the production of special type of concrete, and for covering of oil tubes or other similar works in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Larco General Mining & Metallurgical Company S.A. was founded in 1963 and is based in Athens.
Greece’s mining industry employs a well-educated, highly skilled workforce and has well trained technical staff. In addition, the fine tuning of the industry for many years has led to competitive operating costs.
Greece offers generous investment incentives and the Fast Track Law supports large-scale projects.
Currently, a number of tenders are underway.
• Sappes project, Au [GOLD], Ag [SILVER], 0.8 bn € total value
• Perama project Au [GOLD], Ag [SILVER], 1.8 bn € total value
• Olympias project Pb [LEAD], Zn [ZINC], Au [GOLD], Ag [SILVER], 6.4 bn € total value
• Skouries project Cu [COPPER], Au [GOLD], 8.6 bn € total value
• Stratoni project Pb [LEAD], Zn [Zinc], Ag [SILVER], 0.6 bn € total value[SOURCE: http://www.investingreece.gov.gr/ ]