Turkey opens up 7 coalfields to private investors

By Murat Temizer and Muhsin Baris Tiryakioglu

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey opened seven large coalfields to private investors with the aim of reducing the country's current account deficit, which had been negatively impacted by energy imports, according to Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister in Ankara on Thursday.

Turkey will launch a new model to transfer coal licenses from public corporations to the private sector to increase domestic coal production through new technology using more efficient extraction methods, Fatih Donmez explained at the handover ceremony between the private sector and the Turkish Hardcoal Authority (TTK) and the Turkish Coal Enterprises Institution (TKI).

Turkey has a production area consisting of 203 million tons of coal, double the current reserve volume, which when produced will generate almost $12 billion in total revenue, Donmez said.

In 2017, Turkey imported 37 million tons of coal, which cost $4 billion.

"The production increase will generate $3.5 billion in public revenue, will replace $4.2 billion worth of coal imports, and will indirectly contribute to the decrease in our current deficit," he said.

With the anticipated new investments, Turkey will produce 19 million tons of coal from domestic resources, Donmez said.

Currently, the Turkish coal industry employs 35,300, but with new investments, employment opportunities will be offered to 15,500, increasing job figures to 50,000, he said.

"We will support the local development with the new model we have introduced for domestic coal production. A certain percentage of coal income will be reserved for social responsibility projects in the [mining] regions. Considering the potential of the region and the total production amount, we will allocate a budget of approximately $5 million to social responsibility projects," Donmez added.

In keeping with the country's aim to exploit domestic resources and in a bid to reduce energy imports, the country will utilize new technology and avail of new methodologies in coal production.

"We will receive the necessary know-how in our country to produce in larger areas. If we want sector growth and if we want to reduce foreign dependency, we have to enlarge our production areas with high reserves. This is the way we can reduce the amount of imported coal," Donmez said.