Bulgaria - Recognizing the importance of mineral resources

The Mineral Resources Industry is an important strategic sector in the economy of Bulgaria. It is the basis of all other industries and an important factor for economic stability and energy independence in the country.

Bulgaria occupies a leading position in European mining, ranking second in gold and third in copper production on the continent. In terms of the production index per capita, the country complies with the definition of "mining country", with an indicator above the global average.

The main raw materials extracted in Bulgaria are lignite, lead, zinc, copper and polymetallic ores, gypsum, limestone, bentonite, china clay, quartz sands, fireclay, marble. The number of identified deposits is 595, out of which:

  • 206 of metallic minerals;
  • 115 of non-metallic minerals;
  • 3 of oil and natural gas;
  • 51 of natural stone materials;
  • 151 of construction materials;
  • 69 of solid fuel

80% of mining activities in the country are carried out at surface mines.

Recognizing the important role of the Mineral Resources Industry in the development of the Bulgarian economy and the ensuing responsibilities Bulgarian Mining Chamber created in 2012 the first voluntary Sustainable Mining Standard.

The main objective of the Standard is to contribute to the sustainable development and prosperity of the mining industry in Bulgaria. Additionally the Standard aims at:

  • Improving the energy and resource efficiency.
  • Minimising environmental impacts.
  • Providing maximum socio-economic benefits.
  • Establishing long-term, dynamic and effective relationships with stakeholders.
  • Strengthening the sector’s reputation.

In 2014, several companies in the sector have already successfully introduced the Standard and the first results will be reported during the forthcoming European mining business forum, held in September 2014.

The European Mining Business Forum is an event held upon the initiative of the Bulgarian Chamber of Mining and Geology since 2010. It is unique for Bulgaria and our country, as one of the European countries with developed mining industry and extensive experience in prospecting and exploration of mineral resources, is hosting it every second year. The patron of the event has traditionally been the Minister of Economy and Energy of Bulgaria.

The purpose of the forum is to create a platform for discussion, exchange of ideas, solutions and best practices on all aspects of sustainable development in the sector. It brings together hundreds of participants: representatives of the leading companies in the sector, public administration at the highest level, representatives of the European institutions, academics and non-governmental organizations in the field of sustainable development and environment, diplomatic representatives.

Among the main topics that the Forum consider are:

  • Central and Eastern European countries position in the European mining and mineral processing. Importance and investment opportunities.
  • The new European policy on raw materials. National Strategy for Mining Development.
  • Dialogue with stakeholders. Best practices for cooperation between the mining industry and the public authorities. Strategies for mining industry growth in the region.
  • New energy-saving and environmentally friendly technologies in the mining and processing of mineral raw materials. Manpower and business environment in the light of the sustainable development and the new European and National policies in the sector.
  • Standard for Sustainable Mining Development.

The next edition of the Forum will be held on 29-30 September 2014 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

Ivan Andreev
Bulgarian Chamber of Mining and Geology