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The announced opening of coal mines Bistrica and Bukova kosa in the municipality of Prijedor has caused concern among the local population, which appealed to the authorities to stop it. The residents of Bistrica have organized blockades of local roads, arguing the environmental impact would be disastrous. The villagers told the authorities that around 90,000 tons of coal from Bistrica would not help alleviate the energy crisis.

Lignite mining concessions in Prijedor would be illegal, according to the Center for Environment (CZŽS). Projects are under development in the village of Bistrica and at the Bukova kosa site in the Potkozarje area in northwest Bosnia and Herzegovina.

If coal extraction starts, the consequences will be catastrophic, both for the health and the lives of the residents, they warned at a press conference held at the Center for Environment.

In both cases, the company Drvo-Export from Teslić has submitted unsolicited offers for concessions. The opening of lignite mines in the municipality of Prijedor would have catastrophic consequences for the environment, the environmentalist group claimed.

Barricades prevent mine opening in Bistrica

The villagers from Bistrica have taken to the barricades and sent an open letter to the municipal authority.

“We are aware of the current energy crisis that has gripped the world, but we are also certain that around 90,000 tons of coal from Bistrica will not help alleviate that energy crisis,” they said and asked decision makers to stop the devastation.

Bistrica residents: We are aware of the current energy crisis that has gripped the world, but we are also certain that around 90,000 tons of coal from Bistrica will not help or alleviate that energy crisis.

One of the most beautiful villages in Potkozarje, with over 700 residents, is at risk of becoming a mine and everyone will have to evacuate, its inhabitants warned.

Photo: Čuvari Bistrice / facebook

The residents are sitting on the road, preventing the machinery from passing toward the mining project site. They spent a night on the barricades.

In the case of Bistrica, there has been a flagrant violation of the human right to a healthy environment and a peaceful and family life, property rights and public order and peace, CZŽS pointed out. Unidentified vehicles are making interventions in the area without any formal notification about the works. Access roads are being created and expanded without permits, and no one is reacting to it, the environmentalists added.

“We were forced to file a criminal complaint against unidentified persons due to the occupation and arbitrary exploitation of public property,” said Redžib Skomorac, legal advisor at the Center the Environment.

Concession for Bukova kosa mine site in legal dispute

Skomorac stressed there is no legal basis for granting concessions, arguing that the Municipality of Prijedor lacks a document on concession allocation policy. 

Skomorac: There is no legal basis for granting concessions.

The center has filed lawsuits against the decision of the Government of the Republic of Srpska to initiate a concession procedure for coal exploration at the Bukova kosa site.

Skomorac said that if the entity government does the same for the Bistrica site, CZŽS would also file a lawsuit.

As reported by the local media, the City Assembly will hold a special session today on mining in Prijedor, and the residents of Bistrica plan to address the councilors with a request to halt the works.

Mining operations would pose threat to water sources

Miroslav Curić, a representative of three local communities, recalled that there was already a mine in the area during World War II. The coal was later found to have a high sulfur content, between 8% and 12%, he added.

This coal is of poor quality, and its use would greatly endanger the environment and the health of the population, Curić said. He warned that water sources would be jeopardized.