Türkiye's mining industry and the critical statement from EU's von der Leyen - LEVENT YILMAZ

Türkiye's mining industry and the critical statement from EU's von der Leyen

At the beginning of last July, together with the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Fatih Dönmez, I got the chance to visit the Eti Maden Beylikova Facility and examined the Rare Earth Elements Mine, which boasts the second largest reserve in the world. Afterward, I wrote a column here and conveyed my views on Türkiye's mining vision. However, the issue is not only on our agenda, and there have been important steps taken recently in mining on the EU side as well. This situation shows that Türkiye is on the right path.


Among the underground riches of Türkiye, there are very precious metals, especially boron. Finally, together with the huge reserve of rare earth elements detected in Beylikova, Türkiye has also acquired a very serious mineral reserve to be used as a critical raw material in high-tech products.

It is obvious that detecting and extracting all kinds of assets under the soil will make very serious contributions to the economy. In this respect, each of the processes of searching, extracting, and turning these minerals into qualified products is of particular importance.


The share of the mining sector in Türkiye's GDP is increasing every year. However, it is difficult to say that it is at the desired level yet and further studies in this area need to be increased. On the other hand, the development over time is remarkable. For example, while the share of the mining sector in the total GDP was 0.82% in 2002, this rate increased to 1.17% in 2020.

While the share of the mining sector in total exports was 1.69% in 2002, it became 2.60% in 2021. In addition, the ratio of exports to imports in the sector increased from 56.98% to 86.24% in 20 years.


Last September 14, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated that in this year's version of her “State of the Union” speech, in which Commission Presidents have touched on important issues on the EU agenda every year since 2010, China's production of rare elements is 90% and lithium is 60% in the world. announced that it controls the processes and that the EU has prepared the “European Critical Raw Materials Law” in order to reduce this dependency. This is because, as Von der Leyen pointed out in her speech, the EU's import dependency on rare earth elements will increase significantly due to renewable energy and new energy technologies.

To understand the EU's approach to the mining sector, which announced the Green Deal, we need to look at the part of Von Der Leyen's speech on critical minerals.

Stating that the EU's demand for rare earth elements will increase fivefold by 2030, German Von der Leyen made part of her speech on critical minerals in German, referring to the statements made by German Foreign Minister Baerbock to the German mission chiefs on Sep. 9. This detail, which I think few people notice, is essential. Baerbock made the following statements in her speech: "The EU buys 85% of its niobium needs from Brazil, 68% of its cobalt from Congo, and 98% of its borates from Türkiye. Being 98% dependent on a country. This is a very extreme addiction.”


Relative to the developments in the world, especially in the EU, the current situation of the industry in Türkiye points to significant improvements. But Türkiye needs to do even more. Because critical minerals, especially rare earth elements, are of great importance in terms of sustainable costs and uninterrupted production processes in the defense industry, renewable energy, and high-tech product items. “Mining” will definitely be one of the most talked about topics in the upcoming period in the world. In this respect, Türkiye's extraction and processing of all kinds of precious metals underground is not only an economic necessity but also a strategic one in terms of national security and national energy policies.


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