* Says has not invested enough in Bulqiza mine
* Hunger strike by miners seeking better terms enters third day
By Benet Koleka
TIRANA, July 27 (Reuters) - Authorities fined the Albanian arm of Austrian mineral and metal processor DCM DECOmetal on Wednesday for not living up to its investment contract at the Bulqiza chrome mine, the Economy Ministry said.
The 56 million lek (400,000 euros) fine comes as 16 of the 700 miners entered the third day of a hunger strike to force DCM DECOmetal to accept their demands for a 20 percent wage rise and offer a clear commitment about future investment.
DCM DECOmetal has agreed to a 10 percent rise, but no compromise was reached. The mine is Albania’s biggest employer.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Energy said it imposed the fine on the Albanian Chrome (ACR) mining concession after it “failed to invest in accordance with its programme”.
ACR, DCM DECOmetal’s Albanian arm, had invested 3.09 million dollars (2.15 million euros) at Bulqiza, short of its programme of 3.4 million in the 2007-2008 period, the ministry said, adding there was no investment in 2009.
DCM DECOmetal was not available for comment. It said last week it had been in full control of ACR since 2009 and had invested more than 30 million euros in the concession’s assets, including improvements to the mine.
Albania’s Economy Ministry last week suspended part of the licence of DCM DECOmetal upon reviewing its work at the Bulqiza mine after a two-week strike by its miners.
The mine produces 70,000 tonnes of chrome ore per year, and the company has become an integrated producer of 3,000 tonnes of ferrochrome per month since it took full control of the Bulqiza concession in 2007.
(Editing by David Hulmes)