With the first signs of the mineral that appeared in 1942, the chrome mine in Bulqiza started its activity in the distant year 1948, three years after the end of the Second World War. As an official entity, it was first named “Bulqiza Geological Enterprise” in 1956. With the growing activity through years, it was necessary to build and put into operation Burrel Ferrochrome Plant in 1979 and Elbasan Ferrochrome Plant in 1988. Albchrome, was first founded in the beginning of 1991 as a state company under the former name ‘Albkrom sh.a.’, when, with the fall of communist regime, the path for private business and professional development of Industry in Albania, was opened and free. Between 2000 and 2001, the most important assets of chrome industry infrastructure in Albania, including Bulqiza Chrome Mine, Ferrochrome Plant of Burrel, Ferrochrome Plant of Elbasan, were given to a private Italian company by the Government of the Republic of Albania, by means of a Concessionary Agreement entered in force between the Ministry of Public Economy and Privatisation and the Concessionary ‘Darfo S.P.A.’ (today ‘Albchrome Holding Shpk’), approved by the Parliament of Albania by Law no.8590, dated 23.03.2000, amended and Law no. 8791, dated 10.05.2001, amended.
In 2007 the Austrian – Russian group took over the concessions and signed the beginning of technologic and industrial development of all the assets of this concessions. The name of the concessionary company was changed from ‘Darfo Shpk’ to ‘Albanian Chrome Shpk’ (ACR). This way, under the Austrian and Russian industrial expertise, two out of three furnaces installed in Elbasan Ferro – Chrome Plant were refurbished and their technology was changed to provide for a higher performance and production. Also Bulqiza Mine experienced a reconstruction of the whole exploitation scheme. Important investments were done for security, exploration and ore processing fields, making the company more efficient.
In 2009, ACR had a change in ownership, and DCM (Austrian investing group) took over 100 % of the shares of the Concessionary, becoming the only shareholder of ACR. DCM continued to improve and implement new projects and ideas to further develop the company into a modern European industrial business with high perspective for the future. In 2013, due to difficulties in actualizing investments, DCM sold the whole shares of the Concessionary to Balkan Finance Investment Group (BALFIN). The name of the concessionary company become ‘Albchrome Shpk’.
Investments and results
In 2019, Shaft nr. 9 started operating, the largest investment in the mining sector in Albania during the last 30 years, a giant investment that does not seem likely even in the era of communism.
Construction of Shaft nr. 9, together with all other modern technical and technological installations worth almost 20 million USD, Klos Traverbank worth about 5.2 million USD and installation of a new lifting machine in Shaft no. 3 worth 1.6 million USD will enable the continuation of mining activity in the Bulqiza mine in safe working conditions.
Since 2013, the total value of Albchrome investments in the mining sector in Albania has reached the figure of about 63 million dollars, a figure which will reach the value of 72 million dollars within 2021.
- Bulqize Chrome Mine - about $ 42 million
- Elbasan Ferrochrome Plant - about 7 million dollars
- Burrel Ferrochrome Plant - about $ 14 million
In the period 2022-2025, it is foreseen an investment plan of nearly 43 million dollars, bringing the total value of investments to almost 115 million dollars. Investments in this period are mainly focused on:
- Deepness Development of Bulqize Chrome Mine (Northern part)
- Opening and Deepness Development of the Qafe Bualli chrome ore source
- Implementation of dedusting systems in Elbasan and Burrel Ferrochrome Plants
- Ferrochrome Submerged Arc Furnaces’ overhauls
- Development and improvement of technological processes and automation of plants and mining
- Development and expansion of auxiliary infrastructure of processes in plants and mines, etc.
In 2021 Balfin Group has incorporated Vlahna MiningLtd, in which it is planned to invest a value of about 15 million dollars, which includes:
1) Opening and Deepness Development of the Vlahna chrome ore source
2) Restoration, switching on and capacity increase of the Chrome Enrichment Plant, in Perollaj, Kukes District, in North-East Albania.
3) Installation of Chrome Selection Plant.
The purchase serves AlbChrome to cover the needs for 100% chrome ore from 50-60% as they are covered today in relation to the capacity of Ferrochrome, increasing its competitiveness and expanding its activity in the future.
- Geological reserves of the Vlahna chrome ore source are approximately 2,000,000 tons of category C1 + C2 with an average quality of 27.53% Cr2O3.
- The investments that are foreseen to be implemented in the period 2021-2027 are;
• Nearly USD 14,000,000 for the Vlahna Chrome Mine;
• Nearly USD 2,500,000 for the Chrome Enrichment Plant and Chrome Selection Plant.
Compared to the 23,864 tons of ferrochrome produced in 2010 or the 38,500 tons produced in the distant 1988 when the industry was at its peak, today AlbChrome has more than doubled these values and thanks to investments, the growth is expected to continue.
AlbChrome extracted 84,000 tons of chromium for 2018 at the Bulqiza mine and produced about 70,000 tons of ferrochrome for 2018 at its two plants in Burrel and Elbasan.
At the beginning of year 2021, the production team of the Bulqiza Mine reported a production of 100,000 tons of chromium ore. This absolute record is the best result of the annual production recorded in the last thirty years in the Bulqiza Mine, since 1990.