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Παρασκευή, 24 Αυγούστου 2012

Review of mining/metallurgical industry in Greece, years 2010-2011.

[by Peter G. Tzeferis]
In 2010 the sector experienced a significant decline in all sizes, following the fall in demand and prices of raw materials in the steel industry, construction industry, cement and concrete. Recession continued and deepened by the severe financial problems and the lack of investment initiatives that could lead to domestic growth. Along with the shrinking domestic market especially in construction field (aggregates, cement, ceramics, etc.), the tendency was to strengthen its export sector of products placed on the international market (industrial minerals, aluminum, nickel, etc.) where the demand and and prices rallied largely to pre-crisis levels. In 2010, was achieved a total sales volume of Quarry/Mining/Metallurgical Products over 1 billion. euro (1.1 billion. euros), of which 790 million were exports (72%).

In 2011, the same trend continued, ie the export sector remained satisfactory results, except for the last quarter mainly due to the downturn looming maintenance and expansion of the recession in the EU and cool down signs of China's and U.S.’s economies.

Specifically, in 2011, the results of basic metal production of primary non-ferrous metals (alumina/aluminum and ferronickel/nickel) were very good, as both surpassed previous results leading to a major increase in production and enhancing their export activity in all individual products.

For nickel (Ni), in 2010 we had a major resurgence (about 14.000 tn Ni) from the historic low of 8.269 tn in 2009. In 2011, it was one of the best years as LARKO GMMAE reached a rise of more than 30% of production, which amounted to 18.527 tn nickel. Larko suceeded a proportional increase in turnover which in 2011 amounted to 311.12 million  (239.5 million in 2010) and even greater was the increase in the volume of sales/exports, which strengthened by 40% to 18.594 tonnes (an historical record in sales), mainly due to increased demand for stainless steel and the reopening of electric furnaces in larymna ferronickel plant. It is important that the above significant performance achieved under conditions of falling nickel prices (by 24%) in 2011.

The increased needs of the metallurgical unit located in Larymna covered exclusively from nickeliferous laterite ores derived from domestic mines in Evia, Ag.Ioannis and Kastoria and the total laterite production amounted to 2.23 million tn (increase by 14% compared to 2010). The Larco also produced 350 thousand tn of lignite from the mine in Servia, Kozani, most of which was allocated to PPC.

The production of Al exceeded 167 thousand tn (140 thousand tn in 2010) absorbing over 80% of Greek production of bauxite and achieving marginally profitable use for Aluminium SA. During the year 2011 there was an increase in the share of exports in total sales of aluminum products by 11% (from 55% in 2010 to 66% in 2011). The production of alumina hydrate for 2011 (809.700 tn) surpassed all previous records and consolidated a new market for this product in non-metallurgical uses (eg ceramics, filters, etc.) as evident from the increase in product sales (sales of over 123 thousand tn for alumina hydrate in 2011).

There was a corresponding increase in the domestic production of bauxite, which surpassed 2.3 million tn. (13% compared to 2010), part of which must be noted that beyond the foremost metallurgical use (aluminum production), while absorbed for use by the steel industry, the cement industry, the production of wool and abrasives.

The production of mixed sulphide Pb-Zn ores (lead, zinc and iron concentrates) from HELLAS GOLD SA remained at previous levels (over 214 thousand dry tn) and products of enrichment (concentrates of lead sulphide and zinc sulphide after differential flotation) exported as a whole exceeded a value of 38.3 million € (18,4 m € for Pb and 19.9 m € for Zn), maintaining 2010 levels.

Despite the slowdown in the global economy, for 2011 there was a significant international presence of GRECIAN MAGNESITE SA which managed to maintain previous levels at magnesium ore exploitation (over 540 thousand tn) and production of magnesium compounds (dead-burned and caustic-calcined magnesia, 69 and 79 thousand tn respectively). It is considered extremely encouraging for Greece the fact that the company (with a total sales value for 2011 of approximately 40 million euro, of which 37 million are exports) maintained its achieves for several years as the largest magnesite export company within the EU and as a leader magnesia exporter in the world. Also encouraging especially in the field of magnesia products is the reactivation of BIOMAGN SA (successor of the old BIOMAGN and FIMISCO, which now belongs to the GEK-Terna group) in the region of Evia (and Halkidiki) which has secured course magnesite reserves of over 15 million tn and is currently preparing research projects to explore the expansion of research in new fields.

Industrial minerals, predominantly export sector, continued in 2011 the recovery from the severe downturn of 2009, mainly due to the improvement in world commodity markets. Specifically, the production of bentonite and perlite remained at 2010 levels, with a relative reduction of bentonite (1.2 million tn) and a relative increase for perlite (842 thousand tn). Noted that Greece is the largest bentonite producer in the EU and S & B Industrial Minerals SA is the largest bentonite export company in the world (production of 1.16 million tn in 2011 from mines of Milos island) with a total sales value of over 69 million (100% exports). Also, Greece is the first country in perlite production worldwide, with a wide distribution of uses of the product which is constantly expanding: more than 60% in construction, 25% for agricultural purposes, and the remainder in foundry applications, filter media, specialty insulations etc. The S & B Industrial Minerals SA produced in 2011, 385 thousand tn perlite (raw material from mines in Tsigrado and Traxilas, Milos island) and worked at the premises of Budia Milos over 600 thousand tn achieving a total sales value of 33, 4 million (99.5% exports).

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