Macedonian mining owners believed 2013 was hard for stone pits and marble industry and did not expect improvements in 2014 because as they say there are no investors in the big premises as before. Vice-president of Macedonia mining Association, Shefki Aliti said after meeting with Macedonian Minister of Economy Valon Saraqini at the end of December that no improvements of the work of the marble producers are expected in 2014. "The year of 2013 was hard for stone pits and marble producers. We do not expect improvements in 2014 because there are no investors in the big mines as we had before," Aliti said. One of the reasons for pessimistic prognoses for 2014 is the new rules and the possible increase of the prices for the concessions for excavation of raw materials for 50 per cent. However, the Government said that 2013 was a good year for the mining industry in Macedonia and that better days will come in 2014 when change of the law for excavation of raw materials is planned as well as new prices for the concessions. This, according to Saraqini, will improve the situation and attract new investors that will research the possibilities of opening new mines. "We would never adopt prices without consulting the businessmen. If we agree, the price list will be adopted by the Government but it will be always with similar or lower than the prices in the neighboring countries,"Saracini said. According to him, Macedonian price list for concessions are 10-20 per cent lower than the prices in the other Balkan countries. Macedonia has tradition in marble production. At the moment, there are 36 locations where different types of marble are being excavated, by 27 companies. Most of these companies are registered in Macedonia, but there are some substantial foreign investment from countries like Netherlands, Turkey and Slovenia. In 2013, Macedonian ministry of economy issued new concessions for research and making a study for possibilities for excavation of marble on four new locations. If the studies show possibilities for profitable excavation of marble, this could attract new investments in this industry. All foreign delegations of politicians and businessmen have been introduced among other things with the possibilities for investments in marble industry or with the qualities of the Macedonian marble. According to the latest data issued by State office for statistics, in 2011 about 81,903 tones of marble were produced in Macedonia. Only 18,089 tones were processed in Macedonia and the rest was exported to foreign countries. In 2012, 64,384 tones of marble were excavated and 15,535 processed in Macedonia. The executive director of the regional Chamber of Commerce in Prilep, Risto Najdoski said that they offered to the Chinese investors all resources including marble. "Our products are competitive on the Chinese market. We offered to our Chinese colleagues the resources of marble and tobacco as well as products from food industry. About 99 per cent from our white marble ends up in China,"Najdoski said. As the statistics for 2012 show the whole mining industry in Macedonia employed 5,363 workers. The average salary for 2012 in the mining industry was about 370 euros (508 U.S. dollars). According to the price list for excavation of minerals issued by ministry of economy, the price of the concession for exploitation architectural-building stones (including marble) is 100,000 Macedonian denars (about 2,220 U.S. dollars) a year for one square kilometer. Additional to this, the company that excavates and produces marble pays compensation of 5 per cent of the value of one cubic meter of marble. According to the price list, one cubic meter of the commercial marble is estimated to 18,000 Macedonian Denars - about 413 U.S. dollars. Macedonia is a country of about 2 million people and a GDP of about 4,935 U.S. dollars per capita. Since its independence after breaking away from former Yugoslavia in 1991, Macedonia fails to significantly improve the economy.