The stable and efficient production of electricity, as well as a reliable supply, form the basis of Serbia’s economic development and improving the quality of life of citizens. On the basis of Serbia’s available resources, the state has a strategic commitment to also generate electricity from coal, which is why mining represents the fulcrum that national electric utility Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) is committed to strengthening.
It used to be sufficient for there simply to be enough coal, especially during the 1980s and ‘90s, when Serbia was going through difficult times. Today, in the two mining basins that comprise the “pulsing vein” of Serbia’s energy, Kolubara and Kostolac, EPS bases mining production on highquality management, energy efficiency, labour productivity and satisfying Europe’s environmental standards and norms.
Coal from the Kolubara Mining Basin produces as much as 52 per cent of Serbia’s total electricity. This basin supplies about 30 million tonnes of coal annually. Two essential projects that are underway at Kolubara will provide sufficient quantities of high-quality coal for the decades ahead. These are the new digs at Field “E” and “Radljevo”. Production begin in 2018 at Field “G”, which contains excellent quality coal, representing a total investment of 160 million euros.
In order for extraction technology to be significantly improved and for the quality of coal to be unified, finalisation of the very first green project at EPS is underway – “Protecting and Advancing the Environment in the Kolubara Coal Basin”. This “green” project, worth €181 million, enables the increasing of the efficiency of the operations of thermal power plants, reducing negative impacts on the environment and improving energy efficiency.
In Kostolac, where the first new thermal block is being built in Serbia after three decades, a project is underway to increase the capacity of the Drmno Mine from nine to 12 million tonnes of coal annually, precisely in order to provide sufficient quantities of high-quality coal for the new 350 megawatt block. With this investment of €613 million, EPS will gain a modern, highly efficient block that satisfies all domestic and European environmental criteria. It also included the acquisition of new, impressive equipment for mining operations, such as a landfill with a capacity of 8,500 cubic metres per hour in which $18.9 million has been invested. The second phase of the project to modernise TPP Kostolac B, which implies the construction of a new block and increasing production at the Drmno Mine, has a total value of as much as $715.6 million.
The future of this branch is the West Kostolac Mine in the village of Dubravica, where coal deposits of 350 million tonne have been discovered. According to announcements, the implementation of investments worth around 100 million euros, for the procurement of mining machinery necessary for extracting the discovered deposits, will soon commence.
In the meantime, the priority is on investments in mining equipment, such as the new BTO system for the Drmno Mine, which was realised from 2016 to 2019 and is worth $97.6 million, followed by reconstruction of the system for exporting coal from PK “Drmno” in which 73 million euros has been invested, as well as the procurement of auxiliary machinery.
Colossus on the move
Under the scope of preparations for the opening of the Radljevo Mine, EPS experts performed the most complex and longest transportation of production equipment in the history of the Kolubara Mining Basin and EPS. The rotary excavator “rodent 10”, weighing more than 1,600 tonnes, travelled 24 kilometres. Along the route, this gargantuan digger, which is 30 metres tall and 20 metres wide, traversed the Belgrade-Bar railway, the Ibar Highway and the Kolubara river, creeping past numerous power lines along the way