Chain reaction: virus darkens future of Albania’s chromium miners – by Briseida Mema and Emmy Varley (Agence-France Presse/Yahoo News – November 10, 2020)

With mountains of chromite piling sky high on the docks of the port behind him in the Albanian city of Durres, logistics manager Henri Kurti explains the hold up.

“When China and America have problems, we have even bigger problems in Bulqize,” he says, referring to the region to the east where the blue-grey metal is mined before being shipped around the world.

As the coronavirus pandemic rocks international commerce, knock-on effects are being felt in poor corners of the world like Albania, where chromium miners have nowhere to sell their goods due to a drop off in purchases from China.

The Balkan country’s chromium sector is entirely dependent on exports, leaving the men and women who extract it at the mercy of world prices.

“These last few months have been very difficult with the pandemic, the fear of losing our work,” says Florent Veseli, a 33-year-old drilling inside a cold, damp mine under a mountain in the Bulqize region.

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