After the abandonment of central planning in 1992, Albania's mineral industry was marginal, with technical difficulties contributing to the decline. Nearly half a century of self-imposed isolation during the Communist era crippled the industry with a shortage of capital, aging and inadequate machinery, overstaffing, and environmental damage. In 1995, the government adopted a law to privatize the mineral industry, and administrative preparations for privatization began in 1996.
Mineral deposits traditionally associated with Albania included chromite, copper ore, and nickeliferous iron ore. From the late 1970s through 1990, Albania was the principal chromiteproducing country in Europe; the country often ranked second in the world in exports and third in production. In this period, exports of chromite, ferrochromium, and petroleum refinery products constituted the country's chief sources of foreign exchange. For much of the 1990s, the chromite mining and processing industry paralleled the country's moribund economy.
In 2000, chromite production was 80,000 tons, down from 300,000 in 1996. The most important chromite mines were at Katjel, Mëmlisht, and Bulqize, in the upper reaches of the Drin River. A chromium-ore enrichment plant was put into operation at Bulqize in 1972. In the 1980s, chromite production amounted to more than 1 million tons per year.
In 2000, the government awarded Hayri Ogelman Madencilik, of Turkey, a long-term concession to upgrade and operate the Kalimash mining and beneficiation complex, and to develop mines at the Perollajt and Vllahane deposits in the northeastern part of the country.
Copper ore concentrate production was 9,000 tons in 2000, 2,294 in 1998, 869 tons in 1997, and 10,807 in 1996. Copper was mined at Pukë and Rrubig, where the ore was concentrated and smelted. The deposits near Kukës were the richest in Albania.
Production of bauxite in 2000 was 5,000 tons. Bauxite deposits were found mostly in central Albania, east of Tiranë, as well as in the northern alpine region, near the border with Serbia. Bauxite reserves were estimated at 12 million tons, with the largest deposit at Daijti. Because of a lack of domestic refining capacity, bauxite was exported.
Albania was one of the few countries producing natural asphalt, mined at Selenicë; production in 2000 was 17,000 tons.
A major event in 2000 was the privatization and sale of the Fushe-Kruje cement plant to a UK-Lebanese consortium. The capacity of the plant, 150,000 tons per year, would be increased, to meet 45% of domestic needs. Recent cement output has not exceeded the 243,000 tons produced in 1995, and imports have ranged from 500,000 to 600,000 tons per year.