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Kosovo: „Trepça“ Mines Resumed Operations

Vienna, Aug 24, 2005 – One of the most important pillar of Kosovo’s economy “Trepça” resumed operations on Monday, six years after the NATO Troops put an end to the war in Kosovo.

Minister of Energy and Mining Ethem Ceku said at the reactivation ceremony that he is confident that Trepça Mines will prove, during the three months of experimental operation, to be economically sustainable.

He also said that Trepça would have an impact in increasing of the social welfare of citizens of Mitrovica. According to Ceku, Trepça will become self-sustainable in 2006.

Joachim Ruecker, head of UNMIK's Pillar IV, assessed that reactivation of Trepça indicates that Kosovo will be again a base of profitable mines.

"This is an important day since production in Stan Trg mine began again, in the exploitation phase. The world market for mining products is very good at the moment. We are closely working with the government in this issue," Ruecker said.

Ken Yamashita, chief of USAID mission in Kosovo, said that reactivation of Trepça is a good example of what success can be achieved when having all stakeholders, the government, UN and the donors, working together.

He said that this is only the first step, while he mentioned that the Law on Mining is being processed. "We and Ruecker have many works to do for privatization, so these mines can be effective. We should attract private investors in order they to come in a secure environment," Yamashita said.

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi said yesterday KosovaLive that the financial situation will change positively with reactivation of Trepça, and that its workers will not be any longer in the roster of social payments.

According to Kosumi, the reactivation of work in Trepça is significant for its workers and Mitrovica, and for Kosovo, as well, “because Trepça used to be and is a symbol of Kosovo’s economical power.

Trepça is a conglomerate of some 40 mines and factories in Kosovo notably including Stari Trg. It is one of the richest mines in Europe and the richest in the Balkans. It includes also a smelter in Zveçan, located northwest of Mitrovica. The “Trepça” mines have yielded for hundreds of years lead and silver ore. One of its rarest commodities are crystals.

During the 1980s, it employed 20,000 workers and accounted for 70 percent of all Yugoslavia’s mineral wealth. At its height “Trepça” generated 25 percent of the entire regional industrial production and figured among the principal exporters of the Ex-Yugoslavia.

Some experts say that in the subsoil of Kosovo, one of the richest of Europe, are hidden enormous deposits of lignite, lead, zinc, non-ferric metals, gold, silver and petroleum, on top of 17 billion tons of coal.

Government officials believe that mines in the future will represent the main bedrock for Kosovo’s economic development.

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