17 June 2016, 14:17

Rehabilitation Works Start in Stolice Mine Tailings Pond

Rehabilitation of the tailings pond of the antimony mine Stolice in Krupanj started today with the possession of the site by the contractor. The investment of emergency works, including protection against surface water, rehabilitation and stabilization of the tailings pond, cleaning and regulation of the most vulnerable section of the Kostajnička River, amounts to EUR 2 million, and the resources will be provided from the EU Solidarity Fund. 

Director of the Public Investment Management Office Marko Blagojević said that the works that would finally resolve the issue started after almost half a century since the toxic material started flowing out from the tailings pond, and following a year of preparation of the rehabilitation project.

"It was worthwhile to invest time and money to save the lives of 15,000 people who suffered decades-long direct exposure to toxic materials from the tailings pond, but also the health of people who live in the municipalities downstream of Stolice. The works, worth RSD 219 million, will be funded from the donation of the European Union, owing to whose generosity we managed to do so much following the flooding that hit us", said Blagojević.

Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Oscar Benedict said that the European Union was assisting in the resolution of this environmental problem, pollution of rivers and soil.

"The Government of Serbia should establish the number of similar hot spots in Serbia, as this is an important issue within the accession to the EU. So far, we provided EUR 9.6 million for the purpose of eliminating flood damage in Krupanj, including construction and reconstruction of houses, assistance for farmers and road renovation", said Benedict.

Works to eliminate flood damage will be implemented on the basis of projects whose preparation is financed from the donation of the Government of Japan, through the UNDP, in the amount of USD 204,300.

"The UNDP has been in Serbia for already 50 years, providing active support to the Government of Serbia and its citizens in various situations. Following the devastating floods in 2014, the UNDP provided assistance for the citizens in 46 towns and municipalities in Serbia, both mitigating the consequences of the floods, and ensuring better planning and better resilience in future", said Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano, UNDP Resident Representative in Serbia.

The problem of the tailings pond near the Stolice mine has been topical for several decades, culminating in May 2014, when the stability of the tailings pond was threatened by the heavy rain in this region, which resulted in the toxic matter flowing into the Kostajnička River. Subsequent environmental research established that the river beds of the Kostajnička and the rivers of Korenita and Jadar, in the length of around 27 km, and also considerable littoral areas, are polluted above the allowable limits and that it was necessary to clean the terrain and remove the deposited tailings pond sludge. Furthermore, sizeable areas of flooded agricultural land (around 360 ha) are polluted with heavy metals and these are the areas where it is necessary to conduct soil remediation.