Summary

The 6th MINEX Europe Mining and Exploration Forum

took place in Tirana on 5-7 July 2022

Over 80 companies

and organisations

27 countries from Europe

North America, Australia, and China

Over 50 speakers

and panellists

Over 140 in person

participants

Over 70 online

viewers

8 themed sessions

and panels

Networking event

hosted by the British Embassy

Gala Dinner with live

entertainment and networking opportunities

Mine site
visit

to Spac Copper Mine

MINEX Europe became the first major international mining event to be held in Albania. Organised under the general theme “Sustainable Mining in Western Balkans and wider Europe”, the Forum addressed a broad spectrum of issues, themes, and initiatives evolving in the mining and geological industry. Over 50 experts presented exciting projects, technologies, and investments that are helping Europe’s mining and metals industry to achieve new levels in terms of productivity, resilience, and sustainability.  

The brisk recovery pace of the world’s economy after the global pandemic has elevated the importance of metals and minerals. Europe’s dependence on imports makes it vulnerable to economic and geopolitical shocks and rivalries. Integration of the Western Balkans into wider Europe’s supply chains is becoming more urgent to ensure diversified sourcing of critical raw materials. Western Balkans countries can supply more than 50% of Europe’s demand of bauxite and nickel, as well as more than 30% of its chromium and 20% of its copper. 

Forum Sponsors and Partners

In-person participants

Geography

United Kingdom 25%
Albania 23%
Turkey  8%
Other Countires 8%
Serbia 7%
Kosovo 4%
Bulgaria 3%
North Macedonia 3%
Switzerland 3%
Austria 2%
Finland 2%
Montenegro 1%
Romania 2%
Slovenia 1%
The Netherlands 1%
  • %

Industry

  • Mining Company
  • Companies providing geological technologies and services
  • NGO
  • Government agencies and organisations
  • Consulting companies
  • Manufacturers and suppliers of equipment
  • Financing and investments

Remote participants

Geography
  • %
Other Countries 21%
United Kingdom 20%
Albania 18%
Portugal 8%
Kazakhstan 6%
Serbia 4%
United States 3%
Germany 3%
Russia 3%
Switzerland 3%
Slovenia 3%
Kosovo 3%
Estonia 3%
Peru 3%

Forum summary

5 July 2022

The Forum was opened with a Keynotes from Dr. Ilir Bejtja – Deputy Minister, Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy of Albania and Martin Vickers, UK Trade Envoy to the Western Balkans, UK Government. 

The keynotes were followed by the High-level panel discussion under the topic: National policies and priorities in mining, mineral processing, and renewable energy industries in the Western Balkans counties.

The panel included: Florent Çiçe – State Adviser, Ministry of Economy of the Republic of North Macedonia, Vera Keljanović – Director of Mining, Geology and Hydrocarbons, Ministry of Capital Investments of Montenegro. Dr. Ilir Bejtja – Deputy Minister, Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy of Albania and Kreshnik ThaciHead of Investment Promotion, Kosovo Investment and Enterprise Support Agency. 

The discussion was moderated by Martin Vickers, UK Trade Envoy to the Western Balkans, UK Government. 

The following topics were discussed at the session: 

  • Post-Covid19 regional economic cooperation strategies and priorities. 
  • Current and future role of Western Balkans countries in developing a sustainable supply of critical raw materials to Europe and globally. 
  • Large-scale infrastructure projects to support green economic development. 
  • Energy mix and cross-border cooperation towards a low carbon economy. 
  • Investment, trade, and technological opportunities in exploration, development, and processing of primary raw materials. 
  • A social contract for mining. Lessons learned and moving forward. 

Session 2

After the break, the Forum continued with a second session under the general theme of: Mining Critical Raw Materials in the Western Balkans and wider Europe – a fresh perspective.  
Moderated by Tim Buisseret – Country Director, The Department for International Trade the session consisted of the presentations focused on global market analysis and outlook for critical raw materials. 

The session was opened by Sir Richard ShirreffExecutive Vice Chairman, Sigma7 with a presentation about Building Resilience to Geopolitical Risk.

“The world changed on 24th February 2022, the threat to the security of the European mainland is now existential. Organisations must think strategically and building resilience to geopolitical risks is critical. Risk managers need to have this on their radar and be properly informed about geopolitical risks, understanding the interconnections between geopolitical risks and other risk such as ESG and cyber.”  – highlighted Sir Richard Shirreff. 

Using case studies Sir Richard discussed the importance of stress testing crisis and business continuity plans, giving examples of how companies can build resilience to geopolitical risk using tools such as Business Gaming. “Too often plans [Business continuity plans] are written up and just left on a shelf.” In a Business Game, the organisation sets out its plans and proposed actions while a ‘Red Team’, comprised of relevant experts, challenges their moves in a series of countermoves. “The aim is not to catch people out but to identify weaknesses or vulnerabilities in a safe-to-fail environment.”  

Robert Tomas – Policy officer, European Commission, DG GROW then came to the presenters’ podium with the presentation titled: Status of the EU Critical Raw Materials policy developments”. 

Mr Tomas provided an overview of activities following the Commission’s Action Plan on critical raw materials adopted in September 2020 as well as will reveal some recent policy developments to reduce Europe’s strategic dependencies for critical raw materials. Speaker also noticed that critical raw materials are essential components of the green and digital technologies needed for the EU to achieve its green and digital transition. Global supply chain disruptions initiated by the Covid-19 pandemic have been aggravated by the Russian aggression against Ukraine. 

Duska Rokavec – Senior Economic Geologist, Geological Survey of Slovenia has spoken about The RESEERVE project funded by the EIT Raw Materials.  RESEERVE is mapping the mineral resources of the six ESEE countries: Albania, BIH, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and North Macedonia, which, provides a unified platform for the presentation of business opportunities and challenges of developing mining and processing primary and secondary raw materials. The WEST BALKAN MINERAL REGISTER created under RESEERVE project allows to integrate the regional knowledge into pan-European Mineral Intelligence Network and bring it closer to the global mineral markets. 

Adrian BylykuExecutive Director, Albanian National Agency on Natural Resources in his presentation talked about mining sector in Albania and outlined the recommendations on foreign investments. 

Ivica TalevskiPresident, Macedonian Mining Association made a presentation on sustainable development – future of mining in Republic of North Macedonia. 

“In the country I come from there are examples of successful business stories based on responsible operation, environmental protection, and building strong relationships with the community. These principles are based in the company where I work – SASA mine but need to be implicated in the entire mining industry in the country” – said Ivica Talevski and then continued: “The development of our companies and the whole industry is impossible without the simultaneous development of the community, so I strive for this relationship to be even more visible to create a success story for both companies and citizens. As in any sector, there are challenges that need to be overcome.” 

Dragan MilosevicBoard member, Geological and Mining Association of Serbia concluded the session with a presentation focused on mining in Serbia, the opportunity for new mining production capacities, the most significant threats, and the crucial mistakes that exploration companies can make at the beginning of the activities which can take the project to a dead end. 

Session 3

The present and the future of sustainable mining and the energy transition away from coal and towards renewables in Western Balkans and wider Europe – was the theme of the third session at MINEX Europe. The session was organised with the support of ERM and CSA Global.  

The Session was moderated by Elena AmirkhanovaRegional Client Director at ERM.  

The first presentation was made by Dr Wolfhart PohlLead Specialist Environment and Geosciences, World Bank Group on the topic of Land Reclamation and Repurposing – A key pillar supporting a just coal transition. Dr Pohl’s presentation introduced: “Just Transition for All Approach” and its three pillars: governance and strategic planning, people and communities, and lands and assets. 

Ekaterina SolovovHead of Albania, European Bank for Reconstruction & Development gave an overview of EBRD’s role in helping the Western Balkans countries to diversify their sources of renewable energy.  

“Strengthening governance for the sustainable development of minerals critical to the energy transition” was the topic of the next presentation by Mark Burnett, Europe and Policy Manager, EITI International Secretariat. This presentation explained how transparency and multi-stakeholder dialogue can be used to shed light on governance challenges, help to identify solutions, and provide a platform for collective action in the critical minerals sector. It described how countries can address governance risks through implementation of the EITI Standard and use of the data disclosed through EITI reporting. The presentation highlighted the experience of Albania, which has used the EITI process to improve transparency and expand public access to information about its mining, petroleum and hydropower industries. 

Then Graham Farrer, Principal Consultant, ERM talked about Reimagining mine closure. The presentation provided examples how mine closure can be reimagined, including integrating mine closure into project development, probabilistic cost modelling, operationalising progressive closure, and supporting effective social transition post-closure. 

Hanno Bertignoll, Project Manager at Montanuniversität Leoben presented SUMEX project aimed at establishing a sustainability framework for the extractive industries in Europe. This framework is applied across the extractives value chain to analyse the mineral, as well as relevant economic, environmental and social policy frameworks of the EU, member states and selected regions along five focus areas – socio-economic and environmental impact assessments, land use planning, health and safety, reporting official statistics and permitting processes/policy integration – to find, or develop, where needed, good practices or tools for an open access toolkit.

The presentation was followed by Dina Carrilho, Coordinator, Foundation for Science and Technology. Ms Carrilho talked about ERA-MIN3: Raw materials for the sustainable development and the circular economy. ERA-MIN3 is a global, innovative and flexible pan-European public-public network of 24 research funding organisations, from 18 EU MS countries/regions, one EU Associated Country and province of Québec and South Africa, supported by EU Horizon 2020. ERA-MIN3 aims to support and promote R&I cooperation in Europe and globally, in the area of non-fuel, non-food raw materials (metallic, construction and industrial minerals). 

Final speaker for this session was Florensa (Haxhi) Kovaci, Chief of Business Development, Albanian Investment Corporation. Florensa has spoken about the role of the Albanian Investment Corporation in developing underutilised state assets and contributing to attracting investments in sectors with great economic potential. 

Session 4

The first day of MINEX Europe Forum was concluded with the session on the topic of the New exploration and mine development prospects in the Western Balkans. Session was moderated by Richard Oldcorn, Corporate Consultant (Due Diligence), SRK Consulting (UK). 

Dr. Edmond Goskolli, CEO Adviser for mines, National Agency on Natural Resources spoke about the mining industry in Albania and its sustainable development. The presentation provided a complete overview of the current state of mining activity in Albania, the state of reserves, the number of companies operating as well as the perspective of the mining industry in the future, taking into account the opportunities for new investments to ensure its sustainable development. 

Bilal Koçi, Director of Mineral Resources, Albanian Geological Survey made a presentation on the critical raw materials in Albania. The presentation outlined the presence of critical minerals in Albania, their types, geological conditions of their placement, and other data available to the Albanian Geological Survey. 

The next presentation was about Albchrome – the leading mining company in Albania presented by Cemil Acar, Deputy General Director, Albchrome. The company has been recently acquired by Yilmaden Holding, mining and metals division of Yildirim Group, which is the global conglomerate with more than 19.000 employee and presence at 53 countries in the world. Albchrome’s mission is sustainably growing in mineral and metal business within Europe by fully integrating to natural resources. 

Paul Cronin, CEO, Adriatic Metals talked about Europe’s New Source of Strategic Metals. During the presentation Mr. Cronin introduced the Vares Silver Project in Bosnia. Fully funded and permitted, the Project is under construction and scheduled to start production at the end of Q2 2023. A new European source of strategic metals being delivered in a changing global trade system that is increasingly requiring European manufacturers to source proportionally more raw materials from the continent. 

“Exploration for major gold-copper deposits in Kosovo” – was the title of the next presentation delivered by Mentor Demi, CEO, Western Tethyan Resources. Western Tethyan Resources Ltd is a UK-registered mineral exploration and development company focused on the West Tethyan Belt. 

The Company is based in Kosovo and is focused on exploration for major gold-copper deposits in the Lecce Magmatic Complex and Vardar Belt, whilst also assessing several other exploration opportunities across Eastern Europe, targeting major gold-copper deposits across the porphyry-epithermal transition. 

Final presentation of the session was “Mine The World ” by Anthony Lund, Director, Lazarus Mining. The presentation outlined the examples on what it really means to work in some of the most challenging mining environments around the world.  

Networking Drinks hosted by British Embassy

After the first day of the Forum the delegates joined Drinks reception hosted by H.E Alastair King-Smith, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Republic of Albania. At the Reception the delegates met with Martin Vickers MP, the UK Trade Envoy to the Western Balkans who was making  an official visit to Tirana to further develop the trade and investment relationships between the United Kingdom and Albania. 

6 July 2022

Session 5

The second day of the Forum has started with the session on Technological risks and solutions to move towards “Greener” mining”.  
 
The session was moderated by Chris Bray, Principal Mining Engineer, SRK Consulting (UK). 
 
Innovation for reduced footprint in European and Balkans Projects was the opening presentation delivered by Andrew BamberManaging Director, Bara UK.  With the increased emphasis on responsible and reliable sourcing of critical and battery metals, the number of European and Western Balkans projects focused on these commodities is increasing rapidly. However, while market pressure for critical and battery metals has increased, regulatory and social pressure for reduced or even zero footprint operations has also increased.  

Andrew’s presentation was followed by Rrapush TolaDirector, Albanian National Authority for Safety and Emergencies in Mining with the presentation about safety at work in the mining industry. Mr Tola outlined important aspects of safe work in the mining industry in Albania. 

Next, was James Williams – Senior Resource Geologist, SRK Consulting (UK) who talked about Drilling and Sampling Considerations for Assessment of Mine Tailings. In his presentation James talked about sampling, surveying, drilling, density measurements and mine production/material movements used in determining the economic potential of TSF as well as highlighting some key environmental advantages of reprocessing mine tailings material. 

Unlocking Value in Historical Mine Tailings: Mineral Resource Assessmentswas the next presentation made by Dr. James DaveyConsultant (Resource Geology), SRK Consulting (UK). The presentation provided a brief overview of potential benefits to reprocessing tailings material, especially on the process of developing and reporting Mineral Resources in accordance with international resource reporting codes, such as JORC, PERC and CIM. 

Iain Pickard, Co-Founder and CEO, Strategia Worldwide presented a Practical Guide to Tailings Storage Facilities Risk Management. The presentation outlined:

• Overview of GISTM requirements and other industry standards
• Barriers to conforming with GISTM
• Future requirements of TSF risk management and best practice
• Impact of hardening insurance market on TSF liability
• Lessons learnt from delivery of pilot ‘Mid-Tier Platinum mine GISTM compliance and 24/7 monitoring project’ 

Final presentation was by Richard Elmer, Director, Knight Piésold with the topic of Tailings Efficiency: Minimisation and Monitoring 

Session 6

Accelerating ESG financing and de-risking investment in the European mining projects – was the theme of the next session moderated by an independent Consultant Artyom Sitnikov 

The session was opened by Robert Mantse, Chairman, M2 Capital Partners speaking about  Financing in Crisis Times. The presentation outlined the connection between geo-politics and commodity prices. 

Axel Kalinowski, Head of Central and Southern Europe, London Stock Exchange Group talked next about London’s Capital Markets as a gateway towards Sustainable Mining.

Next was presentation on ESG and mining. An EBRD perspective by James Lea-Cox Senior Environmental and Sustainability Advisor, EBRD. James discussed what the ESG expectations are for mining projects from the perspective of an International Financial Institution (IFI) – specifically the EBRD which provides debt and equity financing for mining projects.  He further provided some insight as to what junior exploration companies should be considering when it comes to ESG. 

Duško Krsmanović – Head of UK Export Finance for the Western Balkans and Central and Eastern Europe, UK Export Finance presented on “UKEF in the Western Balkans – towards a more sustainable export financing and growth.” Presentation of UKEF, it’s ambition and footprint across the region.  

Luca De LorenzoSenior Director, Head of Sustainability, Nordic Investment Bank concluded the session with a presentation about accelerating ESG financing and de-risking investment in the European mining projects. 

Session 7

After lunch, the conference continued with the session on Enhancing mineral potential with innovative exploration technologies. 

The session was moderated by Alexander Mikhailov Director, Mineral Exploration Network.

Search-exploration of lithium in Albania.” – was the title of the first presentation delivered by Dashamir Gega – Specialist – Department of The Mineral Resources, Albanian Geological Survey. In his presentation Mr Gega covered the spread and presence of different types of lithium in the different parts of Albania. 

Next Dragana SavićProject manager, Geoing Group talked about systematic, multidisciplinary, and proactive approaches to solving problems in the field of geology, mining, and environmental protection.    

Dr. Ibrahim Milushi  – Head of the Department of Geology, Institute of geosciences, Polytechnic University of Tirana covered structural studies, the key to success for the exploration of the chromite ore. 

Dr. Shteryo Lyomov, Associate Professor, Mining and Geology University, Sofia delivered a presentation on The New Approach in Ore Body Exploration – The key to increase the geo-data quality and reduce drilling expenses. In his presentation, Dr Lyomov overviewed of the directional drilling technologies is presented with their advantages and disadvantages as well as applicability at specific geo-technical conditions.

Alexander PrikhodkoVP, Chief Geophysicist, Expert Geophysics in his presentation “Mineral exploration case studies with airborne EM natural fields”.  Alexander talked about methods of exploiting natural electromagnetic fields in the audio frequency range which can significantly increase the depth of investigation and sensitivity to a wide range of resistivity contrasts.  

Thomas Pratelli – Specialist, MICROMINE presented on the Future mine modelling with Micromine. The presentation showcased Micromine’s latest and greatest offerings and cases using technology to solve complexities in the mining and exploration spaces.

Next Alexander Mikhailov – Director, Mineral Exploration Network made a presentation on Philosophy of prospecting and how to carryout early-stage mineral exploration quick and cost effective 

Session 8

The final session was held under the general theme of “Next generation mining technologies“, moderated by Richard OldcornCorporate Consultant (Due Diligence), SRK Consulting (UK). 

Chris Bray – Principal Mining Engineer, SRK Consulting (UK) started the session delivering presentation titled:Strategic Mine Planning: A Good Place to Start”. The presentation provided an overview of a flexible mine planning approach that has been successfully applied to a wide range of mining projects, based on the available information, to enable improved visibility and confidence in strategic planning to inform investment decisions.

Next, Yerko Martinez Senior Mining Engineer, SRK Consulting (UK) talked about Underground Mining Studies: Workflow and Considerations. Yerko’s presentation focused on the key tasks involved in the technical underground mine planning work and the considerations when progressing from a resource model through the various mining study stages including stope optimisation, mine design, scheduling, and cost modelling. 
 
Arif Umutcan Gelisen – Mining Engineer – Project Supervisor, DAMA Engineering in his presentation:Full Scale Systematic Steps for EPCMtalked about DAMA Engineering’s case study and demonstrated showed that estimated project costs are well inside the range of real investment. 

“Robotic miners: a paradigm shift in the mining industry” was the next presentation delivered by Glen BurridgeExecutive Director, European Federation of Geologists. The presentation highlighted the experience of Albania, which has used the EITI process to improve transparency and expand public access to information about its mining, petroleum and hydropower industries. 
 
Fabrice FayolaVice president, European Coal Combustion Association then spoke about How to be player of circular economy. 
 
Next Jason Tatman Overseas Marketing Manager, Ganzhou HPY Technology gave a presentation on Sensor Based Ore Sorting. A huge step to creating greener mining processes.

The forum concluded with the final keynote by Michael RadaIndustry 5.0 Founder, IBCSD LAB. In his presentation Michael addressed the impact of INDUSTRY 5.0 on MINING

After the Forum delegates joined a Gala dinner organised with support of M2 Capital Partners.

Spac Copper Mine visit

7 July 2022

On 7 July a group of the Forum participants visited Spac Copper mine operated by Tete Albania.  Delegates visited two underground mines and copper enriching plant.  

Spac copper mine (the second largest copper mine after Munella copper in Albania) has 3.6 million tons geologic reserve with 2.8 million tons (with 0.88% Cu grade) recoverable reserve.  

The Spac Deposit was discovered in 1954, with the initial exploration being carried out by Russian geologists up until 1960. Underground development began in 1966. Albanian Government invested in the mine for more than 81.000 meters of drilling, excavation of 140 m deep internal shaft and 12.000 meters of drifting during the communist regime. 

The mine was used as a political prison camp from 1966 until 1991, with much of the mine development and production being carried out manually by prison workers.  

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