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
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
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%
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
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 worlds 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 worlds boron in 2012 and had 46% of global market
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
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 countrys
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
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.
Yigit, O., 2009, Mineral deposits
of Turkey in relation to Tethyan Metallogeny: implications for
future mineral exploration, Economic Geology, v.104,
*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