Turkey needs to allocate nearly $10 billion in venture capital for exploration and development activities to access nearly 4,700 tons of potential gold resources, according to Mehmet Yılmaz, the president of the Turkish Gold Miners Association (AMD).
"According to professor Ayhan Erler's modeling study in 1991, there is a potential reserve of about 6,500 tons of gold in Turkey," Yılmaz told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Saturday.
"According to this (Erler's) study, we have the second-largest gold reserves after South Africa," he stressed.
Yılmaz said they only were able to extract 382 tons over the past two decades of the currently known 1,500 tons of probable reserves.
He said that nearly $10 billion of venture capital is imperative for identifying the remaining 4,700 tons of potential gold resources.
In Turkey, 18 gold mines are currently in operation, while 20 new gold mine projects are awaiting investment.
The country started gold production in 2001 with a modest 1.4 tons. That level climbed steadily to reach a then-record high of 33.5 tons in 2013.
Gold output fell from 2014 through 2017 but climbed to 27.1 tons in 2018 and increased by around 40% from that year to reach 38 tons in 2019, according to the AMD data. Gold production by the end of 2021 is estimated to surpass the record high level of 42 tons in 2020 and reach at least 45 tons.
While the 2020 production of 42 tons contributed $2.4 billion to Turkey's economy, it was a drop in the bucket for a country that imported around $25.2 billion worth of gold in 2020, around double that of a year earlier, based on official data.
Turkey to date has invested $6 billion in the gold sector, which currently employs some 13,200 people.
The country in December said around 3.5 million troy ounces of gold reserves estimated to be worth around $6 billion were detected in a mine in the northwestern province of Bilecik.
Yılmaz projects that annual production gradually will reach more than 50 tons in the coming years.
Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez earlier this year said Turkey aims to reach a level where it produces 100 metric tons of gold per year in the next five years.
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