Serbia has reportedly ordered Zijin Mining Group to halt operations at a shaft at the copper mine in the country and complete a wastewater treatment facility. The mining & energy minister has cited earlier that the initiative has been taken as the company failed to comply with the environmental standards.
Zijin has become a strategic partner of Serbia in the copper complex, RTB Bor, which pledged to make an investment of $1.26 billion to obtain a 63% stake. According to Zorana Mihajlovic, Serbia’s Minister of Construction, Transportation and Infrastructure, authorities had ordered the Serbia-based unit of Zijin in late March to halt work on the Jama copper mining shaft. This is in response to the complaints made by the citizens living near the Jama mine regarding the high noise levels, she added.
Zijin’s unit in Serbia has apparently paused the construction of the ventilation shafts for the mine located in Bor. In the current scenario, the copper exploitation in this mine is ongoing. Mihajlovic added that the Serbian government has also ordered the Zijin unit to soon complete a wastewater treatment facility. The facility is intended to lower the level of pollution in Pek, which is a tributary of the Danube. It has set 30th April as the deadline for the company to eliminate all the irregularities.
Over the past years, China has made massive investments in Serbia, mainly in the form of soft loans to provide significant financial assistance to boost highway & energy projects. Most recently, the unit of Zijin in Serbia announced plans to invest $408 million in the ongoing year to expand, overhaul, and improve the environmental standards at the mines as well as a smelter located at the Bor complex.
As per reports from the Global Alliance on Health & Pollution watchdog in 2019, Serbia became the most polluted country across Europe. Recently, several people had attended a protest in Belgrade against the lack of government action to curb pollution, caused mainly by mining and industry.