Turkey's Mineral Processing Sector: Unlocking Value in the Mining Industry for Economic Growth and Competitiveness

Turkey’s pursuit of economic development and competitiveness has led to a concerted effort to elevate every segment of its economy, including the mining industry. With the ambitious Vision 2023 goals set by the government, which marks the centenary of the founding of the Turkish Republic, Turkey aims to achieve significant milestones such as $15 billion in mineral exports by 2023 and $500 billion in total exports. Enhancing the value chain in the mining sector is crucial not only for economic growth but also for reducing Turkey’s persistent current account deficit.

The recognition that Turkish miners must add more value to their production is a natural progression as the mining industry matures from a frontier to an established jurisdiction. Previously, Turkey primarily focused on easy processing and exported pre-processed materials to other countries. However, companies now understand the limited profitability of this approach and are heavily investing in mineral processing equipment to complete the entire process in-house.

Turkey’s unique geology, shaped by its location at the intersection of four tectonic plates (Anatolian, African, Arabian, and Eurasian), plays a significant role in mineral processing. While Turkey boasts diverse metal mineralizations, the smaller size of deposits, caused by geological structures, poses challenges for economically viable mineral recovery. As easy mining methods have reached their limits in Turkey, more complex deep drilling and underground mining are becoming prominent.

The shift towards value addition in the mining industry presents a growing trade for mineral processing service providers and investment opportunities in this sector. Local and international companies, including Gursan, Weir Minerals, Sandvik, Epiroc, FL Smidth, and Metso, offer a range of crushers, screeners, grinding mills, flotation cells, magnet separators, and complete mineral processing plants. While there are no large greenfield projects currently underway, companies in this segment report robust sales volumes, indicating a favorable market environment.

The mineral processing machinery industry in Turkey is gradually becoming more localized. With Turkey’s manufacturing capabilities often compared to those of China, companies like Weir Minerals, Metso, and Gursan manufacture a significant portion of their equipment within the country. Localization is driven by technical needs, cost considerations, and the potential for better quality manufacturing.

The mineral processing industry globally is experiencing a revolution through technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), next-generation networks, automation, robotics, virtual simulation, and artificial intelligence. Turkey, with its challenging geology, stands to benefit from these advancements. Advanced process control (APC) systems, for example, offer improved recovery rates and efficiency, enabling real-time adjustments to flotation cells based on instant chemical analysis.

While gold remains a prominent target due to its significance in Turkey’s mining industry, mineral processing service providers are also exploring opportunities in copper, base metals, chromium, iron, and platinum groups. The recent Hanönü copper project by Acacia Mining, the largest copper reserve discovered in the history of the Turkish Republic, has stimulated mineral processing demand for copper. However, challenges exist in obtaining licenses and permissions, which necessitate government support for the establishment of beneficiation facilities.

As commodity prices rise, lower-grade minerals that were previously uneconomical to process are now worth considering. Innovative solutions are needed to address specific challenges, such as recovering minerals from oxidized zinc ores and mixed zinc sulfide and oxide ores. Mineral processing experts have an opportunity to contribute to this segment of the market and further enhance Turkey’s mining industry’s value.

Turkey’s mineral processing sector is poised for sustained growth across a wide range of minerals. However, streamlining permitting and licensing processes will be crucial for the establishment of mineral processing plants. By overcoming these challenges and unlocking the potential of its mining industry, Turkey can contribute significantly to the achievement of its ambitious economic development goals outlined in Vision 2023.


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