By Busranur Begcecanli
ANKARA (AA) - Turkish gold production by the end of 2020 is estimated to surpass the record high level in the history of the Turkish Republic that was made last year, Hasan Yucel, president of the Turkish Gold Miners Association, told Anadolu Agency on Sunday.
Production is 2019 peaked at 38 tons but is estimated to reach a volume of 45 tons by the year-end, Yucel said.
"Turkey can easily produce 45 tons of gold by the end of the year, thanks to encouraging private sector investments and the number of production facilities that have become operational at the beginning of 2020," he said.
Yucel said Turkey produced a total of 338 tons of gold between 2001-2019, however, based on scientific studies, potential reserves total 6,500 tons from which 1,500 tons have been extracted so far.
He explained that the import of 140-160 tons of gold annually creates a deficit for Turkey of $7-$8 billion. However, he added that Turkey could easily erase 60% of this in the next few years because it has the potential, technology and the know-how.
"We have the capacity to produce 60 tons of gold within five years and within 15 years produce 160 tons that we import today with the help of state-led development," he said.
- Private capital investment in gold mining
Yucel said the private sector has invested $1.5 billion on mineral exploration and $6 billion on facilities.
He said that Turkey's Energy Ministry has also been supportive of this industry and has recently introduced some changes to the new mining law for better transparency.
Under the new law, guidance and the administration of exploration and production licenses, the use of public funding and business processes with full-scale planning will be covered.
According to Yucel, Turkey has gone from zero production in 2000 to become the biggest producer in Europe.
"We, as a private sector, aim for more domestic production. If we can provide added value in our country, it will be a success for us," he said.
- High levels of environmental concern in gold mining
Despite the recent success of this industry in Turkey, it has come under fire from opposition parties and NGOs, who, Yucel said, have used this emotive subject as a political tool.
Environmental awareness around Turkey’s gold mining sites is a key focus to the point that the country has been rated top in global standards in terms of regreening.
"Gold mining, which has political and international dimensions, has become a controversial issue in Turkey after its production potential was determined. Unfortunately, the community has been misinformed due to some political parties and NGOs who have used this issue as a political instrument," he noted.