The protests that spanned Serbia in September and October 2000 were followed closely by strikes not only by students but miners also, whose refusal to operate increased the possibility of this Balkan country – where 70 percent of electricity is created from coal-run power plants – needing to go without electricity.
Milosovic delivered in the military and police to attempt to frighten the employees out of Serbia’s Kolubara mine straight back to work, however, they refused to back down.
Over 20 years miners in Kolubara are frustrated that despite their role in altering the length of history, little has changed for them.
“I had been anticipating our standing in society will enhance annual before we achieve the standard of those western nations,” said Milan Radovanovic, a miner by Kolubara who participates in the anti-Milosevic protests in 2000.
“That didn’t occur.”
The coal that’s mined and burnt in Serbia is lignite, which is full of ash and pollutants which endure long after it’s burned.
A number of the energy plants which were constructed alongside coal mines in the fifties, during the industrialization of the nation, nevertheless have an oversized function in the market, in a time when in several European nations coal has been phased out in favor of more renewable energy.
For those employees, that translates into trying working conditions and acute health risks.
“You understand, normally, a miner from Kolubara appreciates his retirement for 11 weeks – we perish,” said Radovanovic. “I’ve worked for 35 years around the coalfield and I didn’t find an improvement in working conditions up to now.”
For mineworkers, this poses a problem. While life beneath the floor is unhealthy and frequently unsafe, it’s a wage.
Radovanovic said the government has not provided any strategy for those miners that may be left with no work, nor to the retrieval of the deserted coal fields.
The Serbian Ministry of Mining and Energy didn’t respond to queries from Euronews, however, Radovanovic has a notion of how the transition may be produced.
“The very same machines which are utilized to mine coal may be used for the retrieval of the property after the mine is closed, afresh. The miners would nevertheless have work and the property could be changed, for the better,” he explained. “I believe the EU should push that. And fund it.”
But despite Europe’s push towards greener energy from its own recently-unveiled European Green Deal – and Serbia’s clear openness to wish to continue the procedure for joining the bloc – Belgrade hasn’t moved to shut down mines, it’s instead begun to open new ones.
On the opposite side of this enormous Kolubara mine, mining operations are currently happening as near as 40 meters out of villagers’ houses.
Serbia’s ombudsman even ruled in January that households that reside near Kolubara should be transferred as a result of the effect on their wellbeing and security.
“you cannot imagine the atmosphere, it’s a particular smell,” said Ivana Milutinovic, who resides in Rudovci village, near the mine.
“That which is covered in coal dust and the sound in the machines never ceases,” she explained.
Milutinovic is presently analyzing environmental security in the school of mining from Belgrade, and thus has both firsthand and academic understanding of the effect of coal mining in Serbia.
“Most of those folks who live in the region have lung issues. Riverbeds in the region are transferred to keep mining. There’s a type of acid rain.
It estimates that three crops in Serbia are one of Europe’s top polluters and the nation should invest at least $800 million to undo the pollution brought on by mines and power plants.
It’s noteworthy that 16 western Balkans coal plants create up to SO2 as 250 plants in Europe.
Friends with benefits
Serbia’s reliance on coal – and – seeming reluctance to transition off from it has a great deal to do with its connections out Europe, most especially with China.
And even though the government defends mining and mining jobs since they generate jobs, Ioana Ceuta, from Bankwatch, informed Euronews that because of Chinese investment – fresh mines and power plants have been funded by Native American banks – the jobs typically create jobs just for imported Chinese employees rather than for Serbs.
She added that China’s participation in the jobs means that if it comes to environmental security, the police are delighted to look another way.
“There’s the growth of this Drmno mine that provides the energy plant Kostolac B3, assembled with PRC cash,” she explained.
“The ecological impact assessment of the project was never completed and although we’ve requested information from the authorities, we were not supplied with that.”