Serbia mining: Ore and precious metals exploration in Serbia; potentials, challenges and problems; the report

19. August 2013. / Mining

Much can be done, little is done, and that what is done, it is not done as it should – this sentence represents completely real situation of the Serbian mining. In proportion to its size and population, Serbia has quite decent natural resources deposits, moreover, these resources, besides that satisfy our state needs, also represent golden opportunity for profits and exports. But…
The fact that on Pester has even up to 5 billion tons of coal, the value of the nickel reserves reaches up 100 billion EUR, that in Aleksinac basin lies an oil shale of which we can get 200 megatons of oil, that 20% of the world’s coal reserves lies in Serbia, apparently foreign investors better noticed than the state. And what is the result that Serbia is not taken seriously this area?

The result is that by the cession of exploration rights on already explored deposits it loses millions of EUR, that from the profitable ore mining purchases crumbs from the table, that allows to foreign companies to appropriate the right of digging without competition. There are many problems in this area, of which the most important perhaps is that country is lazy or does not want to deal with these issues, leading to foreign investors to behave as they wish. Additionally this issue is accompanied by many problems of environmental nature, and uninformed public.

It is understandable that the state today cannot assume the overall profit due to market liberalization and the fear of risky investments in high technologies that are too expensive, which do not allow it to invest capital independently and begin the exploitation of which would collected profit as it was the case in the socialist era. But what the state can and must do is to restrict investors by good laws, concerning profits in which experts would assess a maximum that state can take and not to reject the investment. Natural treasure is still in the territory of Serbia, and therefore the state must follow the successful ones in this sector, and on that basis to evaluate the relationship INVESTOR-STATE under which the state would collect money from its resources exploitation and the investor would benefit from the ore extraction and sale. After all it should be known that in this business, no one makes favor to anyone, there’s no friendly concessions, but it is just pure business, the investor would not be where it is if it does not have benefit. The State must show that it is stronger than any individual or organization. And besides all that it must not allow export of raw materials in 100% of the cases, production must be expanded in the direction of manufacturing from where higher profit would come. Of course, the situation in our state and the self-interest existence should be considered, where individuals responsible for issuing exploitation permits are tampered in order that investor get better conditions, and therefore the state is in the losses of millions. The corruption issue is present in the whole economy, also is one of the main challenge in the mining sector.

In terms of ecology, Serbia cannot allow to itself the black spots as some much larger countries can, such as Russia, China or Canada, which have huge uninhabited spaces, or as poor as the Philippines and, therefore, it must oblige investors by the law that practice of old and “dirty” technologies carrying from rich countries to Serbia is out of the question. In the exploitation it must be gone to the cleaner technologies, maximum waste materials must be established, used land must be re-cultivated. In other words, it is necessary to avoid scenarios of Kolubara, Bor, Majdanpek where the government worked in the wrong way. These mines are visible on satellite images in the form of black spots, huge areas of the central Serbia became the great excavations, the landfills. In these mines, especially in the biggest one, Kolubara, the recultivation is not done, that is rehabilitation of the destroyed land, and that is precisely the problem of almost every mine in the country. The contractor negligence is allowed mostly because the state companies do the same thing. Therefore, the main challenge in the future is to start finally with good exploitation in existing mines, and how to arrange future investors. “There are two stables side by side. In one stable you can have lunch, and the other one you can immediately close. It all depends on the behavior of the host”, explained director of RTB “Bor”, Blagoje Spaskovski, exposing the point of the whole thing on best way.
Uninformed public was one of the most important reasons why the ore exploitation, whose stocks were explored, was stopped. Learning from bad (above mentioned) examples which are found all over Serbia, whose culprits are the state and private companies, which until today caused enormous damage to the environment dealing with excavations in a wrong way, the inhabitants of Serbia massively oppose to any exploitation in their surroundings. Looking at the consequences of irresponsible or improper operations, people are convinced that the only direction in which exploitation can go is destruction, the people movement for new mines, and the media image that is implanted in their heads of a gray smoke, excavated soil and polluted water. Another reason for their fears is the arrival of foreign capital, which takes land and forces people to work for small change on an impersonal way. They believe that a better way to perform exploitation does not exist.

A better way certainly exists. The fact is that pollution must be present, but it can and must be restricted and brought to the minimum, the best possible mining technology should become a standard below which it must not be gone. Hectares of tailings and waste materials that are currently discarded as surplus must be used until the last possible measures, the country must be recultivated by plantations of plants that can grow. The legal regulation must make it clear to investors that they dig on the territory of Serbia and that people of this country work for them. Billions of tons of valuable ore on which lies our country must become one of the development engines at the moment when it does not manage to find out a way from economic crisis. Now when others are drowning in a crisis, Serbia has a chance to take advantage of the potential that developed ones used long ago and that would give it a great advantage over them.
Source; Serbia Energy Mining desk

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