TBY talks to two industry executives on the fortunes of the pumice and gold mining segments.
What makes the Turkish pumice mining sector attractive for investors?
MUSA ERTAŞ The fact that Turkey has 45% of the world’s pumice reserves has greatly enhanced the value of the Turkish mining sector for investors. With an increase in the number of buildings being built, pumice mining is really coming to the fore.
How have amended mining regulations in Turkey affected investment?
CALVIN MCKEE The new regulations make it more difficult for companies or investors to acquire mining licenses for “speculation.” There are now set timeframes that require companies to prove that legitimate work is taking place to evaluate and advance a property. This is an advantage for companies that are serious about developing new mines in Turkey. There are additional measures that address health, safety, and environmental requirements, and make it more comfortable for international investors to see that Turkey is moving toward international standards in these areas. Although the implementation of the new regulations has not addressed the lack of transparency in the licensing procedures, the most positive outcome of the new mining code, along with various financial incentives put into place by the Turkish government, is that it demonstrates progress.
What are your main export markets?
ME We began exports in 2007. We have national distributors in Saudi Arabia, the UK, and the US, and we export pumice and bims blocks to a total of 42 countries. Our export figures and the number of countries we export to increase by the day. Due to the fact that nearly half of all the world’s pumice is located in Turkey, our exports are very strong. Pumice is very important for stone washing jeans. That shows how much foreigners are interested in pumice mining in Turkey.
What is the significance of Turkey in Alacer Gold’s global portfolio?
CM The significance of Turkey is indicated in the company’s production statistics. In 2011, approximately 45% of the company’s gold production was sourced from a single Turkish mine. We are certainly bullish in terms of further growth within the country, and we continue to add to the resource and reserves at Çöpler. Alacer Gold is actively exploring numerous other properties though joint ventures with several other companies.
What role can pumice production play in terms of diversifying Turkish value-added exports and contributing to the Turkish economy overall?
ME The pumice that is extracted from our mines goes through various procedures in our bims block production facilities. It contributes to the Turkish economy in this way. We have also received our National Technical Approval (ITBAK) certificate for our BSB-19 coded product with which we provide heat insulation, thereby ending the need for thermal sheathing. We’ve begun marketing that product. Now, people don’t need to use thermal sheathing when building their structures with average materials. The fact that people are spared unnecessary expenses will contribute greatly to the Turkish economy.
What is your outlook for the gold mining industry in Turkey over the medium term?
CM I believe that there will continue to be growth in gold exploration over the next few years. Production will continue at about the same level for the short term, but should begin to grow considerably as more of the large copper and gold projects being explored move into production.
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