Serbia, Why is EPS forced to import coal as well?

, News Serbia Energy

Irresponsible management, due to the fact that the terrain at the mines of the Kolubara Mining Basin was not prepared in time for coal mining, in the period when the acting Milorad Grčić was the director of the Electric Power Industry of Serbia, and that company will cost around 280 to 300 million euros. That is how much EPS will be forced to pay for the import of the missing quantities of lignite for the production of electricity during the next two winter seasons.

The Government of Serbia has approved the Electric Power Industry of Serbia to import four million tons of coal by the end of 2023, in order to ensure uninterrupted operation of Obrenovac thermal power plants, which cover half of the country’s electricity needs, because the Kolubara Mining Basin now provides a third less coal, Radio Television of Serbia announced yesterday.

In the Kolubara mines, work is done in three shifts and with all available mechanization, and the depositor on which the accident occurred in the winter will be operational by the end of the year. Kolubara mines produce about 62,000 tons of coal a day, and it was announced that 80,000 tons will be mined at the end of the summer, so import is necessary. The production of one megawatt hour of electricity requires an average of 1.6 tons of coal, and as EPS claims, at this moment it is cheaper to import coal than electricity.

– We contracted 300,000 tons from Pljevlja and 100,000 tons from Banovići. It is coal of slightly higher quality than ours, which will help us raise the quality of our coal and reduce the use of fuel oil – said the executive director for coal production at EPS, Milan Jakovljevic.

The import of coal from Bulgaria and Romania is also counted on, but the problem is transport, which increases the costs of import, and the possibility of import from Kosovo has been announced. There are five mines in the Kolubara mines, and the plan is for only three to work in 2025: “Tamnava zapadno polje”, “Polje E” and the new mine “Radljevo”, which will provide enough quality coal.

What justifiably worries the public is that Serbia has a sufficient number of mines from which it can supply its thermal power plants, but it will still be forced to import coal by the end of next year. This most vividly illustrates the extent of the catastrophic management of the company in the previous period. Everything that was done wrong out of ignorance or arrogance, or better said, was not done and should have been done, is now coming to fruition. The losers will certainly be the consumers of electricity in Serbia, but also the budget, because the Electric Power Industry of Serbia is a state-owned company. What is “happiness in misfortune” is that the new leadership of EPS started preparations for the winter on time. Whether everything will function as planned then, that is, whether there will be enough electricity, remains to be seen.

Danas sources close to EPS state that the main reason why EPS will be forced to import lignite, even though it has its own coal mines, is that preparations for its extraction were not carried out on time. The documentation for field “E” has been obtained, but the exploitation has not started yet. The reason is that coal suitable for exploitation is located at a certain depth that needs to be reached in order for the digging process to take place in an efficient manner. In other words, access to coal in that field is still not provided, Danas writes.