When it comes to transparency, accountability and the contribution they make to the state budget and local government budgets, it is rare for companies in Albania to disclose figures daily. Only companies that have a serious reputation and are proud of the contribution of their work do so, which has a direct impact not only on the positive change of their employees' lives, but also on the communities where these companies operate.
One such case is that of the country's leading company for the extraction of chromium ore and the processing of ferrochrome, AlbChrome.
Increase in investment, employment and paid taxes
As of 2013, thanks to the Balfin Group, the course of history would change, which would not only restore chrome as one of the most exported products in the country, but also surpass the best results of the past, bringing revenues several times higher for the state budget in the form of taxes. Compared to the 23,864 tons of ferrochrome produced in 2010 or the 38,500 tons produced in the distant 1988 when the industry was at its peak, today AlbChrome has more than doubled these values and thanks to investment, the growth is expected to continue.
AlbChrome extracted 84,000 tons of chromium for 2018 at the Bulqiza mine and produced about 70,000 tons of ferrochrome for 2018 at its two plants in Burrel and Elbasan.
AlbChrome, with its activity significantly affects the state budget. Being one of the largest exporters in the country also brings certain obligations to the company, which it accomplishes by setting an example to be followed by other market players.
The first way the state budget benefits is from AlbChrome's regular tax payment, with over $7 million in taxes collected by the state in 2018.
Another way is to correctly compensate employees and contribute in their social and health insurance. At first glance it seems like a common procedure, but from numerous reports on business methods practiced by similar companies, AlbChrome is one of the most regular entities. During 2018 alone, the company and its employees, have contributed over 318 million ALL in social and health insurance.
One should not forget the many investments AlbChrome makes, which indirectly affects the state budget relief for investments in areas where AlbChrome operates. High export earnings do not have a major impact on the economy if investments occur abroad, but this is not the philosophy AlbChrome pursues. So far, $43.5 million has been invested, and this figure is expected to exceed $60 million by 2021, a figure that exceeds the projected value and shows the willingness of AlbChrome to reinvest profits. All these investments will remain within Albania for decades to come.
But it is also worth noting the increase in the number of employees. Since AlbChrome took over Bulqiza's main mine, the number of employees has increased with over 400 new professionals. In fact, there are currently over 1,200 employees, up from 841 previously, and it is expected that the number of staff will increase with at least 200 more at the Bulqiza Chrome Mining Entities, at the Klos Traverbank, at the Plant of selection in Klos, Ferrochrom Plant in Burrel, Ferrochrom Plant in Elbasan and headquarters in Tirana. So far, all of these employees have been allocated an annual salary fund of approximately $12 million. Employment followed by the increased income is a chain process that impacts consumption growth, welfare and more taxes paid in all localities where the company operates.
In the last year alone, AlbChrome has created over 100 new jobs and this figure is expected to increase with the investments being made in well no. 9, which will extend the life of the mine in Bulqiza by at least 25 years, a major investment that has been in the works for years, in collaboration with foreign experts. Serious investments are being made and work spaces are also being opened at the Traverbank of Klos, one of the largest infrastructure works in the country's mining sector by a private company since the communist era. This investment also comes with the objective of increasing the life expectancy of the Bulqiza mine.
Through the management of AlbChrome, part of the Balfin Group, over $43.5 million have been invested in the mine, of which $28.5 million in the Bulqiza Chrome mine, $11 million in the Burrel Ferrochrome plant and $4 million in the Elbasan Ferrochrome Plant, which has made this company one of the top 5 quality manufacturers of ferrochrome in the world by Metalbulletin Magazine. This Magazine, based in the UK, is the largest magazine specialized in publishing information on transactions, prices and achievements in the field of metals, including Ferro-chromium.
In Albania, AlbChrome is the largest chrome company and it can only has competitors abroad. It is listed as one of the top 5 companies in the world for the product of ferrochrome by Afarak Group, a mining and chromium manufacturing group specialized in Southern Europe and Southern Africa.
The way AlbChrome has chosen to compete is not only by offering a competitive price in the market compared to the competition, but also by focusing on product quality. A very good proof of high quality and highly competitive ferrochrome is the company's penetration into the Japanese market, a market characterized by numerous barriers of entry by foreign companies, largely due to the demand for the quality which products that entered Japan must have.
36 entities in Bulqiza, but only AlbChrome is certified for safety
In the Bulqiza area, where there are at least 36 other companies operating for the extraction of chrome ore, AlbChrome is the company that undoubtedly puts employee safety first. This was also evidenced by the report of the well-known American Predictive Safety Mine Audit Company. At the end of their audit, the seriousness of the work done these 6 years by AlbChrome in the Bulqiza mine was certified, where security investments have been increasing continuously year to year. This report does not mention the aeration and electrical system for which major investments were made and are continuing to be made, without forgetting the emergency teams and the continuous training of the employees so that they are as safe as possible in the workplace.
AlbChrome is part of the Balfin Group, the largest and most innovative investment group in Albania and one of the largest in the region, and as such it has maintained innovative values at being the first to offer all the best conditions and new technologies in the Albanian mineral market. This has made it one of the best producers of ferrochrome in the world.
Great contributor to the state budget
With $ 7million paid for 2018, AlbChrome is the largest Balfin Group Company. It accounts for 26% of all tax value which the Group companies contribute to the state budget.
Below, the tax items paid by or through AlbChrome for 2018 in ALL:
Profit Tax - 334,042,390
Withholding tax - 3,008,159
Employer Social Security - 171,954,426
Employer Health Insurance - 19,249,346
Employee Social Security - 109,484,406
Employee Health Insurance - 19,249,346
TAP (Personal Income Tax) - 121,851,020
Local tax - 6,170,447
Customs tax - 10,526,748
Mining rents - 68,835,374