Serbian mining and energy sector is expected to contribute 10% of the country’s GDP within 10 years, the government announced on May 21.
“This year, we are drafting an important legislative framework in the field of energy and mining, but we are also making very important decisions and embarking on a new, green and sustainable path of energy and mining,” Serbia’s Minister of Mining and Energy, Zorana Mihajlovic, said.
Serbia has already adopted a package of legislation on the energy and mining sectors. On April 12 the parliament adopted two new laws — the Law on the Use of Renewable Energy Sources and the Law on Energy Efficiency and Rational Use of Energy — as well as amendments to two existing laws, the Law on Energy and the Law on Mining and Geological Research.
Mihajlovic noted that the new Law on Energy Efficiency and Rational Use of Energy to help citizens improve insulation in their apartments stating that Serbia now consumes approximately four times more energy than the EU average.
The first contracts with citizens regarding the improvement of energy efficiency are expected to be signed at the end of the summer with the help of local governments, she said.
According to Mihajlovic, this year these project will be financed by local self-governments and the state budget, but the next year, Serbia expects financial support from the international institutions.
“We expect to have an average of around €150mn per year for such projects,” Mihajlovic said.
Meanwhile, the Law on the Use of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) aims to enable new investments in RES and enable an increase in the share of RES in total energy produced.
The new law will increase the involvement of citizens in the energy transition enabling them to become customer-producers, which means that electricity customers can instal solar panels on the roofs of buildings to produce electricity for their own needs.
The proposed amendments to the Law on Energy will enable the harmonisation of domestic legislation with the EU acquis communautaire, ensure security of supply and supply of energy and energy sources, and enable the entry of new participants in the energy market. The amendments to the law create the legal basis for the adoption of the Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan.
The main goal of passing the law on amendments to the Law on Mining and Geological Research is to create conditions for more efficient and sustainable management of mineral and other geological resources, as well as to increase investments in geological research and mining.
Among the mineral resources in Serbia are deposits of coal, iron ore, gold, silver, copper, zinc and lithium. Earlier, Mihajlovic said in an interview with Happy TV that the estimated value of mineral reserves in the country exceeds €200bn.
Chinese company Zijin said on April 7 it plans to invest $408mn in production and ongoing projects in Bor and Majdenapek mining complexes in eastern Serbia, and plans total investments of over $1.1bn in three years. However, Zijin has run into controversy in Serbia, where Mihajlovic announced a week later that the Jama mine owned by the company had been shut down by inspectors because it was polluting the environment.
Also in Serbia, international mining Rio Tinto is developing the Jadar lithium-borates project at a deposit it discovered in the Jadar river valley in 2004. The site is estimated to contain 10% of the world's deposits of lithium. Rio Tinto reported a maiden ore reserve in December, announcing that the Jadar project has the potential to produce both battery-grade lithium carbonate and boric acid.