In 2013, when AlbChrome took possession of the Bulqiza mine and the associated Burrel and Elbasan factories, a total in-pause situation was found, with no investment, with staff strikes and with a production, that compared to today's one, seems minimal. But six years after entering this industry, one of the leading export companies in Albania, seems to have made a radical change, revitalizing Albanian industry and bringing an impact that has changed the lives of hundreds and thousands of families in the areas where it operates.
While many entities operating in Bulqiza without investments and without considering technological exploitation losses are expected to complete their activity for a period of no more than five years, AlbChrome is investing millions of dollars in order to keep alive the country's economy and localities where industry has its core base.
Comparing 23,864 tons of ferro-chrome produced in 2010 or to the 38,500 tons produced in the distant 1988 when the industry was shining, today AlbChrome has surpassed these values by more than double and thanks to its investments, the figures are expected to continue their growth.
Among the world's most important ferrochrome manufacturers
Chromium extracted at the Bulqiza mine is transported in order to be processed and then merged into the two Ferrochrome Plants in Burrel and Elbasan.
The chrome ore, after being extracted from the mine, is then dissolved in the final product, which is a High Carbon Ferrochrome.
AlbChrome extracted 84,000 tons of chrome from Bulqiza mine during 2018 and produced about 70,000 tons of ferrochrome in the two Ferrochrome above mentioned plants during 2018.
This product is exported 100%.
Thanks to its product's quality, the company has significantly increased the value of exports and is ranked among the top 5 largest export companies in Albania.
AlbChrome is part of the "International Chromium Development Association", the only international chromium organization in all its forms, created in 1984 and based in Paris, France, a non-profit association that promotes the values and the sustainability of chrome and represents Chrome industry around the world.
High-carbon Albanian ferrochrome is exported from AlbChrome to more developed industrial countries such as Italy, Germany, Austria, Spain, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, USA, India, etc.
The Albanian company produces a High Carbon Ferrochrome with low phosphorus, silicon and titanium and is together with the Swedish manufacturer, the world's most specialized manufacturer of high carbon ferrochrome.
Longevity and continuity through investments
In the Bulqiza chrome mine, about 1,000 meters below ground, stands the largest chrome reserves in Albania, about 4 million tons. AlbChrome is investing over 30 million $ in excavations to reach these reserves, which will add at least another 30 years of life to this mine.
Metalbulletin magazine has listed AlbChrome as one of the top five Ferro-chrome producers in the world. This UK-based magazine is the largest magazine and specialized in publishing information on transactions, prices and achievements in the metal industry.
Increasing employment and security conditions for employees
At the present time, only in the Bulqiza mine, AlbChrome has employed 800 people, including miners, engineers and various specialists, all from Bulqiza town and surrounding areas.
The company has today over 1,200 employees in total, divided between Chromium Mining in Bulqiza, Traverbank in Klos, Selection Plant in Klos, Ferrochrome Plant in Burrel, Ferrochrome Plant in Elbasan and headquarters in Tirana.
As it is well known, the mining profession is difficult and regulated separately by legal and sub legal acts. During the last year, AlbChrome has provided a net average salary of 87,000 Lek per month for its employees. Miners, in addition to the basic salary, benefit from other work-related treatment such as the 13th salary and a special alimentary treatment. Thanks to the investments made at the Chromium Mining in Bulqiza (deep opening), this unit is expected to employ additional staff during this year. Also, with the installation of the new furnace at the Burrel Ferrochrome Plant, this unit grew by 40 employees in the beginning of 2018.
Starting from 2013, Balfin Group has invested through AlbChrome a total of $43.5 million, of which $28.5 million in the Chromium mine in Bulqize, $11 million at the Ferrokromi plant in Burrel and $4 million at the Ferrochrome plant in Elbasan. Investments are ongoing and it is anticipated that by 2021 they will affect the $60 million quota, which far exceeds the estimated investment value.
Social Responsibility, supporting the community
AlbChrome, within the Balfin Group's social responsibility policy, has been very present in the communities where it operates, to support talented young people and families in need.
For the academic year of 2018-2019, AlbChrome supported with full scholarships three students from Bulqiza, who after completing their vocational gymnasium in their city were enrolled at the University of Tirana, in the Geo-Resources branch, with a profile in mining resources engineering. During 2019, the company will again offer scholarships for the best students of the vocational school of Bulqiza and will continue to support the first scholarship beneficiaries who will perform well during the first year of their studies.
AlbChrome has also made a significant contribution to the establishment of the first vocational school in Bulqiza, covering the supply of this educational institution with material basis, as well as setting up a laboratory for the practice, or enabling the payment for some professors.
In addition, AlbChrome, in cooperation with the American government-sponsored "Planning & Local Governance Project" program, through USAID, started its support in 2018 to the “Ali Myftiu” high school in the city of Elbasan. School students will be able to attend twice a week a teaching practice at the metallurgical foundry in Elbasan, where the chromium coming from Bulqiza is melted and they will also have a clear prospect of employment at the plant.
Even in the "Asllan Keta" High School in Fushe Bulqize, the company has enabled the establishment of the Informatics cabinet of this school. This lab will now serve over 700 students in this school.
Likewise, in Bulqiza hospital, where during the last winter there was no heat, AlbChrome made it possible to solve this problem by donating heating equipment to the hospital.
Support for Bulqiza continued in February, when 113 children in Bulqiza's "Qyteti i ri" kindergarten could benefit from a significant donation made by AlbChrome to them. Through this donation, the kindergarten is completed with every household appliance, as well as with all the other necessary appliances in the kitchen.
For 2019 AlbChrome will continue to contribute with projects such as equipping a "Resource Class" in Elbasan, for children with special needs. Also, it is planned with the funds of the company, the reconstruction of the nursery Nr. 2 in Burrel, as well as the contribution to equip the high school laboratories of the city of Burrel with the necessary tools.
AlbChrome contributes significantly to the state budget with the high level of tax it pays. Many other businesses benefit from this company, starting from various suppliers and ending to transport companies. In addition to Bulqiza, the company is also the main city business in Burrel, where 200 people are employed.
AlbChrome is part of Balfin Group, the largest and the most innovative investment group in Albania and one of the largest in the region, known for its investments in commercial centers such as QTU, TEG and SEG, residential and commercial development, tourism projects such as the Green Coast Resort and the Vala Mar Residences, the fashion industry, the mining one, as well as retail sales activities with Neptun, Spar, Jumbo, etc.