The Balfin Group, one of Albania’s largest companies, has expanded its mining operations in neighboring Kosovo where it has acquired a ferro-nickel producer that has been facing financial trouble for the past few years following the mid-2014 slump in mineral prices, said sources.
Balfin Group, which runs the country’s largest shopping centers and chromium mine is also a major developer in the Balkan region. The group says it has fully acquired the ferro-chromium smelter that has changed hands several times during the past 13 years following its privatization and plans to make immediate investment to reactivate the plant.
The gaining, made for an undisclosed amount, comes after one of Kosovo’s largest employers had been operating at partial capacity for the past couple of years and halted its operations for the past four months. According to the source, this has left more than 800 workers jobless and negatively affected more than a thousand others involved in supplying the plant with raw material and logistics both in Kosovo and Albania.
“Balfin will immediately inject sufficient funds to restart the plant and bring it back to full production within August and has agreed to repay the existing supplier debts of the company as soon as possible as well as paying outstanding salaries,” the company said in a statement.
Balfin, which in 2013 acquired Albania’s largest chromium producer, the Bulqiza mine, has been investing in chromium and smelting facilities in Albania and is now planning to make new investment in Kosovo’s Drena’s facility “to realize the full potential of the mining sectors in Albania and Kosovo and increase the production of nickel.”
Chromium, copper and iron ore are the main three minerals that Albania extracts in the mining sector employing about 5,000 people and producing one of the country’s top exports.
The Kosovo acquisition comes as part of Balfin Group’s regional expansion and follows a new major €350 million investment in Macedonia where it plans to build residential and business facilities.