What Are The Major Natural Resources Of Turkey?

Open pit iron ore mine in Sivas, Turkey. Editorial credit: OVKNHR / Shutterstock.com
Open pit iron ore mine in Sivas, Turkey. Editorial credit: OVKNHR / Shutterstock.com

Turkey is a transcontinental country, situated mainly in Western Asia, with a small part on the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is bordered by Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Armenia, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. The capital of Turkey is Ankara, but its largest city is Istanbul. Turkey has the 13th largest GDP by purchasing power parity (PPP) in the world. One of the country's largest industries is the automotive sector, while other key industries include banking, electronics, oil refining, mining, and construction. Turkey is the largest agricultural producer in Europe, and the sector employs more than 20% of the population. In addition to fertile agricultural land, Turkey has a wide range of natural resources including metallic and non-metallic resources. The country’s major natural resources are highlighted below.

Natural Gas

Turkey consumes a significant amount of natural gas, much of which is imported. However, it also has the potential to increase its level of domestic production, namely through shale gas. Turkey’s strategic location makes it a natural "Energy Bridge" between major oil and gas producing regions and major consumer markets. Natural gas consumption in Turkey has increased over time to 48.6 billion cubic meters in 2014, but the country only produced 0.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas during that same year. Current gas production meets about 3% of domestic consumption requirements, but Turkey has approximately 675 billion cubic meters of shale gas reserves, especially in the southeastern region of Anatolia and Trace. Additionally, 650 billion cubic meters of these reserves can be drilled in the first stage. Currently, Turkey’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources is exploring other potential reserve areas throughout the country, especially in Central and Eastern Anatolia, which is suspected to have shale gas potential.


Turkey produces more coal than oil and gas, and this coal is primarily used for power generation. In fact, the country produced approximately 1.5 million tons of hard coal, which accounted for about 40% of Turkey’s total energy production. Major hard coal deposits are located in the Zonguldak basin and Amasra, on the coast of the Black Sea in northwestern Turkey. The basin is estimated to hold 1.3 billion tons of hard coal and is the only region in the country where hard coal is extracted. However, the basin has a complex geological structure, making mechanized coal production nearly impossible. The state-owned Turkey Hard Coal Enterprise (TTK) has the sole monopoly of hard coal production, processing, and distribution. TTK has five operational deep mines in the Zonguldak basin that produced 1.5 million tons of coal in 2015.


Lignite is one of Turkey’s local energy sources, with a proven reserve of 15.6 billion tons. Lignite, together with coal, was responsible for 27% of the country’s primary energy supply in 2015. Lignite deposits are spread throughout the country, but the most significant deposit is located in the Afsin-Elbistan basin. The basin is located southeast of Anatolia and has reserves estimated at roughly 7 billion tons. Other major mining areas include the Soma basin, Yenikoy, and the South Aegean lignite facility. The quality of lignite produced in Turkey is generally poor, and only 5.1% of existing reserves have a heat content that exceeds 3,000 Kcal/kg. In Turkey, lignite is produced at a relatively low cost, making it more competitive than other energy sources. Most of its production comes from opencast mines, while a small is mined underground.

Arable Land

Turkey is the 37th largest country in the world, with a total land area of approximately 302,535 square miles. Of this total, 50.1%, or 385,460 square kilometers, is considered suitable for agriculture. However, arable land accounts for only 27% of the country's total land area, which is equal to 20.6 million hectares. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines arable land as land under temporary crops, pasture, kitchen garden, or temporarily fallow. Approximately two-thirds of Turkey’s arable land is under crops at any given time, while the remainder is fallow. About 90% of the cultivated area is under cereals, especially wheat, which accounts for about 40% of annual grain production. Other agricultural products include maize, sunflower, cotton, oranges, and tobacco. The majority of arable land in Turkey is located in the Aegean Region.

Iron Ore

Turkey contains approximately 83 million tons of iron ore reserves, which are distributed throughout the country, especially in Anatolia, Erzincan, Malatya, and Sivas. Production levels have not changed much over the years due to the insufficient reserves. One of the largest iron ore reserves in Turkey is the Avnik mine, which is located in Bingol Province, about 452 miles east of Ankara. Avnik has an estimated reserve of 105 million tons of ore grading 42% iron, and contains 44 million tons of iron metal. In 2008, Turkey produced about 4.7 million tons of iron ore. Due to low levels of iron ore production, Turkey relies on imports, mainly from Brazil, Russia, Sweden, and Ukraine.


Turkey has several copper mines spread across the county. One of the largest copper mines in the country is the Cayeli mine, located in Rize Province, about 470 kilometers east of Ankara. The mine has an estimated reserve of 20 million tons of ore, which contain about 500,000 of copper metal. The Murgul mine located in Artvin Province, about 465 kilometers from Ankara. The reserve has an estimated 40 million tons of ore grading 1.25% copper. Other copper mines in Turkey include the Damar mine, Cakmakkaya mine, Tirebolu mine, and Cevizlidere mine.


Gold is mined on a small scale in several parts of Turkey. In 2012, a total of 29.5 tons of gold were mined throughout the country, making Turkey a major gold producer. The largest gold mine in the country is the Kışladağ mine, which located in Uşak Province, and is owned and operated by the Canadain-based Eldorado Gold Company. The Çöpler mine is also one of the largest gold mines in Turkey and the world, with an estimated reserve of 6 million ounces of gold. The mine is located in Erzincan Province and is operated by US-owned Alacer Gold Corporation.


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