Analysis of Coal-Based Employment and Economy in Turkey

Europe in transition| Financing the transition


The study analyses employment in the coal mining sector and the coal dependent economy in Turkey.

It gives an overview of the mining sector within the context of the wider economy in Turkey, assessing changes in employee profiles relating to their age, gender, union membership and other, worker rights and job security conditions, and the employment rate of the coal mining industry in local economies.

The study was conducted between December 2020 and February 2021. It entailed a literature review and online search for data from official institutions such as the Turkish Statistical Institution, Mineral Research and Exploration General Directorate, Turkish Electricity Corporation and others.

The key findings of the study are presented below while the full study in Turkish can be downloaded below.

Key findings of the study

  • The employment in hard coal and lignite mining has fallen over the years, counting 35,019 employees in 2018. The employment rate decreased by 26% between the years 2008-2019. The hard coal and lignite extraction industry employs  0.12% of the workforce, both men and women, in Turkey.

  • The coal sector is mostly male dominated, and the number of women employed in the coal mining sector never exceeds 600 people when the employment rates are checked on a yearly basis .

  • Manisa and Zonguldak provinces have the highest registered number of employees in the hard coal and lignite mining sector.

  • Zonguldak is the province where coal employment has the highest share of the total employment within the province.

  • All provinces, except İzmir, have lost their potential to create employment in coal mining over the years.

  • It is estimated that around 8,000 people were employed in coal-based electricity generation in 2018. (Estimated employment number in natural gas power is 4,000 people, and for renewable energy generation it is more than 35,000 people).

  • The added value of coal mining has decreased over the years. The share of hard coal and lignite mining within GDP decreased from 0.14% in the early 2000s to 0.08% in 2018.

  • In 2018  coal contributions to GDP on the country level was 2.9 billion TL, while the contribution to GDP of Bayburt, which is the lowest province in terms of GDP size, was 2.2 billion TL.

  • There is an increase in the added value [1] of the economic activity group “electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning production and distribution”.

  • The ratio of exports to imports, which was 2.38% in 2008, decreased to 0.15% by 2019. Turkey is a net importer of coal and has increased its import volume in the 2003-2019 period.

  • Hard Coal production has decreased significantly over the years. it fell by almost 50% between 2005 and 2019. Lignite, on the other hand, increased its average production between 2005 and 2019, although hitting lowest production in 2015.

  • The share of the number of coal mining enterprises in the total number of enterprises fell by  half  in 2018, compared to 2009.

  • The state’s R&D [2] investments in coal (coal production, preparation and logistics, coal burning, coal conversion and other investments regarding coal) reached USD 9.3 million as of 2017, according to International Energy Agency (IEA) data. It is USD10 million for solar and USD63.5 million for hydroelectricity.

  • Information related to the age of the employees in the coal sector is limited. More than half of the employees are under the age of 40, with 10 or less years in service, according to the Turkish Coal Enterprises.

  • The number of state owned workplaces has decreased rapidly since 2012.

  • There is a significant difference in average daily earnings between the public and the private sectors. Even though there have been serious wage increases in the private sector on a yearly basis, it has not caught  up with the income levels in the public sector. Earnings differ by gender. Male employees earn more daily income than female employees.

  • While 67% of the mining sector workers were members of unions between 2003-2009, the average union membership decreased to 19% between 2013-2020. The unionization rate of workers in the energy sector was 85% on average between 2003-2009, while the unionization rate between 2013-2020 fell to 26% on average. As of 2013, there has been a serious decrease in unionization rates in both sectoral branches.

  • While the number of occupational accidents amounted to 5,728 in 2008, it increased to 10,026 in 2014. Serious occupational accidents were reported in the following years. Between 2008 and 2019, the number of workplaces decreased (-12%) while the number of occupational accidents increased (+57%). There was also an increase in the number of occupational accidents leading to incapacity to work,  the total number of illnesses as well as the period of temporary incapacity due to illness.

  • Tax incentives (tax expenditures) for employment related to the coal sector were 37.2 million TL (2015), 45.8 million TL (2016), 55.1 million TL (2017).  According to the calculations made in line with the estimates published in the same TER (Tax expenditure report), tax expenditures expected to occur until 2021, amount to 56.3 million (2018), 67 million (2019), 77.5 (2020) million and 86.4 million TL in 2021, respectively.


[1] Added value: Gross income from the businesses’ activities after adjustments regarding the subsidies and indirect taxes

[2] The IEA defines the R&D data it reports for Turkey as follows: “2014-2018 data includes, Academic R&D Financing Directorate (ARDEB), Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) under the Public Research Grant Committee (KAMAG) and Technology and Innovations Grant Programs Directorate financing programs. (TEYDEB) and other public funds funded by TÜBİTAK Marmara Research Center (MAM) Energy Institute, Chemistry Institute and Materials Institute. The budget includes public R&D funds provided to academic and private sector researchers, entrepreneurs and / or research consortiums, including all relevant actors and public research institutes.”



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