New investments in mining and energy sector as secure national strategy, Prof. Ivica Ristović chairman of the Faculty of Mining and Geology

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In the further development of EPS, as well as overall energy sector of Serbia, the experts from the Faculty of Mining and Geology have the primary role. – Reviewing the existing resources and reserves of fossil fuels, Serbia is not threatened by the energy dependence.

New investments in mineral resources exploration and opening of the new mining facilities is the surest strategy model to reduce the brain drain in the field of mining and geology, and this means new jobs and provides perspectives for young educated people as well asfor their families – say Prof. our list. Dr. Ivica Ristović, chair of mining in the Mining and Geology, University of Belgrade.

Our interviewee believes that the employment of young professionals in the “Electric Power Industry of Serbia” is a shining example of participation of mining and other companies in the mission to reduce mining and geology brain drain.

Faculty of Mining and Geology has educated the personnel working in the Serbian electroenergyfor decades. What is the present state of education of that that profile and how many enrolled freshmen graduate?

The interest in studying at the Belgrade Faculty of Mining and Geology is constantly increasing. The number of students enrolled has increased from 221 to 300 from 2008 to 2012,  and the number of students who graduate is also increasing. Thus 14 students graduated in 2008 and 208 students  in 2012. Our faculty has for years been admissioning 245 students who are financed from the state budget and 50 self-financed students to the first year of study.The Mining Department has 125 students on the state budget and 25 self-financed students, and the Department of Geology 120 students who are educated at public expense and 25 self-financed students. In the academic year 2011/12 71 students enrolled master studiesand 30 sutdents enrolledphD programs.

Outflow of personnel who graduate form technical faculties is great. How to prevent this and how companies such as EPS can participate in this mission?

We don’t have the accurate information about the brain drain from our faculty, but our experts are highly respected and appreciatedon many European and international universities and in major mining and oil companies. This specifically points to the quality of education that our students receive at the Faculty of Mining and Geology. Although around 300 companies are registered to operate in the mining sector in Serbia, only 20 percent are large companies with a greater number of employees, while the remaining part consists of entities with one or several workers. A large number of companies involved in exploration, exploitation and processing of minerals don’t have adequate educational structure of employees, which is formed and profiled on our faculty,  in its composition, particularly in the sector of metallic and non-metallic minerals exploitation. Large mining companies such as “Kolubara”, “Kostolac”, JP PEU, Petroleum Industry of Serbia, the Bor Mining Basin and parts of the cement industries are mostly base for recruitment of graduates from our faculty.

What is your cooperation with EPS and how it could be improved?

Cooperation of Faculty of Mining and Geology and EPS is at a high level. Almost all of the research projects of mineral resources, as well as feasibility studies, environmental impact assessments, environment, mining and major technical projects and studies for EPS are done by the experts from our faculty, whether the faculty isthe contractor or subcontractor of such activities. Cooperation is also reflected in the participation of our experts in many professional and expert discussions and working bodies of EPS as well as participation of EPS experts in debates, round tables, conferences, and congresses organized by the Faculty of Mining and Geology. Improving cooperation lies in providing greater capacity to conduct field work and internship of students in mining facilities of EPS. The students have field work and a summer internship as compulsory subjects in the third and fourth year. Bearing in mind that this part of teaching is very important in the practical education of engineers.Accepting many of our students in the capacity and facilities of EPS would significantly improve teaching and learning, as well as the expertise and competence of graduate engineers. Apart from that, EPS would benefit because they would get the engineers, who in addition to theoretical knowledge gained at our university, had sufficient professional and practical experience.

Opening of new mine fields is one of the conditions for the construction of new power plants. Inwhat way can the experts from the faculty participate in it?

I expect that in the future development of EPS, as well as the overall energy sector of Serbia, the experts form the Faculty of Mining and Geology have a primary role. New legislations to protect the environment and improve the safety and health at work, which are consistent with the legislation of the European Union, require the involvement of our experts. Application of new technologies in the exploration of mineral deposits, modern design exploitation, transportation, preparation and processing of mineral raw materials, industrial waste management, disposal and recycling of industrial waste are fundamental areas treated by our experts. Given the current engagement and the list of references of our experts in EPS, they are the most responsible for the development of mining and geology of Serbia, and thus in the EPS. Continuing and expanding cooperation with our experts, using their knowledge, experience and expertise to address key issues, ensures the sustainable development of the energy sector in Serbia, and therefore the sustainable development of society.

Given the two decades of underinvestment in the energy sector, is Serbia threatened by energy dependence?

Bearing in mind that in Serbia is about 70 percent of electricity comes from thermal power plants, from the strategic documents passed in Serbia or being drafted with the prospect of imminent adoption such as the Strategy of mineral resources management until 2030, it is clear that the coal demand would increase from the current 38 million tonnes to about 50 million tons of coal annually. As in the rest of the world, coal will be the main energy source for power generation for at least 30 years more years. Considering the existing resources and reserves of fossil fuel resources, it is clear that Serbia is not threatened by energy dependence. By strategic planning and resource management, energy-efficient generation and power consumption, investment, substitution of oil import by increasing production of liquid and gaseous mineral resources, and early exploration and exploitation of oil shales can be completely energy independent in the decades ahead.

New investments in the energy sector are being anounced. Does Serbia have enough personnel and knowledge to implement it?

All future investments in energy, new geological surveys, the opening of new mines and the construction of new blocks of thermal power plants demand creation of new work positions and recruitment of a large number of experts in the field of mining and geology. The Faculty of Mining and Geology is a professional, efficient and reliable institution, prepared to meet all requirements, including the requirements and the needs to educate a larger number of people than now. To increase the number of students of undergraduate, master’s and doctoral studies at our university,it is necessary that a need for more personnel is present. We are ready to respond quickly and efficiently and increase our capacity to meet the needs of the economy. The current number of students of our faculty, as well as the number of engineers, fully meets the needs of the mining and geology sector.

Coal is not disappearing

After the Fukushima disaster the world once again turned partially from nuclear to coal energy. Is there an emerging renaissance of coal, or is it just an illusion?

Coal has never disappeared from the energy scene as a strategic energy mineral resource. That is why it is generally not possible to speak about its renaissance, but to continue planning for electricity generation from coal. In fact, in many of the predictions of European and international companies dealing with strategy, planning and management of energy and energy resources, coal is still considered a strategic and basic raw material for the production of electricity in the next 30 years or more.

“Green” energy is an important factor

It is often mentioned that there are not enough coal reserves in Serbia and it is time to turn to renewable energy sources. Is this a correct theory?

Serbia needs to invest in the renewable energy sector. And not in order to cease the production of electricity from coal, because it is impossible, but for the development of mining and energy in general. Coal is a nonrenewable resource, and the requirements for environmental protection are increasingly stringent. The conditions for joining the EU are such that we are required to get a certain percentage of electricity from renewable energy sources. Therefore, investments in “green” energy is very important factor in the strategic planning of energy policy, and planning for the future development of Serbia.

Source Serbia Energy/ Kwh