Appraisal of Industrial Minerals in Turkey

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Published: Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Turkey has an abundant variety of industrial raw materials and is in an ideal location to deliver high volume industrial minerals to European, Asian and African markets at competitive prices.

By Ozcan Yigit*

The Turkish Mineral Deposit Database (TMDD) contains more than 12,000 records of deposits and prospects, including metallic, industrial and energy raw materials. Some of the industrial minerals recorded in the TMDD have both industrial and metallurgical uses; bauxite and chromite being just two examples.

Turkey is situated on a peninsula surrounded by the Black Sea, the Marmara, the Aegean and the Mediterranean. It has modern transport infrastructure with a large number of industrial ports linked by a rail network and ever-increasing kilometers of highways that link it with Europe and Asia.

In its position, on the doorstep of Europe, Turkey is becoming a major player in the industrial minerals market with a unique position to deliver high volume minerals at low prices.

It has a large prospective land area for industrial minerals, approximately 0.8m km2, with most of the minerals holding a high market value. The proximity of its mines to its markets reduces the impact of transportation costs in the total production cost.

Turkey is well known as a world leader in the exploration and mining of precious and base metals in the Tethyan Metallogenic Belt, especially gold and copper, but it is also a major producer of many industrial raw minerals, such as, boron, barite (barytes), bentonite, feldspar, magnesite, perlite and pumice.

In recent years, Turkey has become one of the major producers of trona, used for the production of soda ash. Turkey has also been a major producer of celestite though production significantly declined in the previous decade and ceased altogether in 2005. It is worth mentioning that Turkey ranks as the top producer of cement in Europe and fifth in the world.

The complicated geologic and tectonic history related to Tethyan evolution has produced a wide spectrum of metallic, industrial and energy raw materials found in Turkey (Fig. 1).


The majority of the land area formed during the Tethyan evolution contains many different types of rock formation: 62% sedimentary; 22% volcanic, plutonic and metamorphic; and 16% ophiolitic rock.

Equally, late Cenozoic shallow-water lacustrine environments, with accompanying volcanism, formed some of the world class industrial mineral deposits now found in Turkey including large reserves of borate and trona.

The country produces a wide variety of industrial minerals associated with different geological and tectonic circumstances. These include alunite, asbestos, barite, boron, disthene (kyanite), feldspar, fluorite, graphite, kaolinite, magnesite, mica, pyrophyllite, quartz, sepiolite, silex, soda water, sodium, strontium, sulfur, talc, trona, vermiculite, wollastonite and zeolite.

Industrial minerals that have been geologically formed include raw materials for brick-tiles, cement, clays, gypsum, bentonite, limestone, marbles (dimension stones), perlite, phosphate, quartz sand, quartzite, refractory clays as well as sand and gravels.

Though there are many diverse minerals mined in Turkey, the country is a major player in the world production of boron (Fig. 2), having 72.5% of the world’s boron reserves, a total of 935.8m tonnes. Boron is the only commodity in Turkey that is controlled by a state-owned mining company, Eti Maden, which produced 47.2% of the world’s boron in 2012 and had 46% of global market share.

The major producing mines are located in northwestern Turkey, from west to east, Bigadic in Balikesir, Kestelek in Bursa, Emet in Kutahya, and Kirka in Eskisehir district. Bigadic district produces colemanite and ulexite ore, Kestelek and Emet produce colemanite ore and Kirka district produces tincal ore.

Turkey has become one of the largest producers of natural soda ash and trona since 2009, with production reaching 1.8bn tonnes in 2012 (Fig. 3). The country also has significant reserves of trona in Beypazari and the Kazan deposits in Ankara, central Turkey. The Beypazari trona deposit has 236m tonnes at 70-90% Na2CO3 reserves, and recently discovered that the Kazan deposit has 607m tonnes ore at 31% trona.

Other industrial minerals with significant production to world standards in the last decade (2003-2012) are barite, kaolin (Fig. 5), feldspar, magnesite, including hydromagnesite, salt, including rock solution and evaporates, as well as magnesium salts, sodium sulphate and zeolite.

Bentonite production peaked in 2007 with 1.7bn tonnes produced and was 1bn tonnes in 2012. The largest kaolinite deposit in Turkey is located in Duvertepe in Balikesir northwest Turkey, containing 63.7m tonnes at 13 to 33 % Al2O3.

Total salt production from rock salt, solution salt, evaporitic salt and magnesium salt mines steadily increased in the last decade and reached 6.5m tonnes in 2011 and 5.2m tonnes in 2012.

Though the country produces many different industrial minerals (Fig. 1), those with high production rates to global standards, include bentonite, gypsum, perlite, and pumice.

Gypsum, perlite and pumice production steadily increased to 8.2m tonnes for gypsum, 888,00 tonnes for perlite and 4.5m tonnes for pumice in 2012, reflecting the dynamic nature of the country’s construction industry in recent years. Turkey is the leading producer and exporter of pumice.

The country is one of the largest producers of cement and construction raw materials including limestone, sandstone, marl, clay, pyrophyllite, trass, schists, bitumen schist, other cement raw materials, construction fillers, brick-tile clays and dolomite. The total production of cement and construction raw materials reached 434.5m tonnes in 2012.

Turkey is within the top five producers of dimensions stone in the world. Production figures for dimension stones, including ignimbrite, marble, onyx, and travertine were 5.8m metres squared in 2011 and 5.3m metres squared in 2012.

Production of other natural stones including andesite, basalt, granite, slate, serpentinites, diabase, and miscellaneous construction stone, have increased production significantly in recent years, reaching 24.242 m tonnes in 2012.

The industrial minerals and rocks market in Turkey is largely controlled by private Turkish companies, unlike precious and base metal exploration and mining, which is controlled by government agencies. Many of the companies are relatively small in size but recently have been involved with government agencies as well as foreign companies to take advantage of the competitive minerals market.

Some of the major industrial raw material companies in Turkey have already expanded their operations to other countries. The proven track record of production capacities and large underexplored prospective land area with great mineral exploration potential, amplified by a well-established infrastructure on the doorstep of Europe, testify to the fact that the country is and will be a strong player in the industrial minerals and rocks market for a long time to come.





References

Yigit, O., 2009, Mineral deposits of Turkey in relation to Tethyan Metallogeny: implications for future mineral exploration, Economic Geology, v.104, p.19-51.

*Ozcan Yigit, SEG Fellow, received his PhD from Colorado School of Mines, has worked for many major mining/exploration companies and is currently associate professor of Economic Geology at Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University, Turkey.

E-mail: ozcanyigit@hotmail.com