KOSID discusses on investments in lignite sector in Kosovo

Prishtina – 26 September, 2016 – The Kosovo Civil Society Consortium for Sustainable Development (KOSID), organized a roundtable discussion on the topic: "The public interest on the exploration of lignite in Kosovo," where it was discussed on potential investments in lignite sector in Kosovo, arguing the legal and economic principles, as well as the viability of projects of public interest in the country. Focus was given to the projects of companies "Envidity," whose board is chaired by General Wesley Clark who sought a license for the use of coal on 1/3 of the territory of Kosovo, and that of "Sharrcem" of "Titan America.”

Visar Azemi, Coordinator at KOSID, said that it is of a high importance to analyze and research projects that focus on the exploration of lignite in Kosovo. "Projects which aim impact underground waters and coal have not encountered approvals in various countries in Europe, as they are regarded as carrying major environmental and social risks, due to the process itself and the technology used. Therefore, project proposals of Envidity and SharrCem companies should not find room for implementation in Kosovo, since it will open doors for two projects with disastrous environmental, social and health costs, that exceed economic benefits. Above all, these proposals contain no concrete information that parliamentarians can rely upon, before the vote in the Assembly, therefore, it is necessary the implementation of geological, feasibility and environmental impact analyzes, the discussions with citizens, and consulting with experts of the field before decisions are taken towards the aforementioned projects,” stated Azemi.

While, Dardan Abazi, Researcher at INDEP/KOSID, presented an analysis of the Report of the Committee for Public-Private Partnership in connection with the public interest announcement for projects of companies Envidity and SharrCem. "We have some fundamental objections to these projects which relate to the procedure they attempt to be licensed, and the consequences that their implementations may have. The project of Envidity Company contains high environmental and social costs, which risks to cause irreparable damages to soil, water and air. Whereas, the project of SharrCem and Titan America offers no obvious benefits the public, but a source for the company to supply with dried coal its partner companies. But more troubling is the confusion of parliamentarians on these proposals, because they do not have enough information about the projects and therefore are not properly informed on the environmental impact that these projects bear in itself," said Abazi.

Participants in this debate were mining and geology experts who expressed their concerns about the process and projects. The expert in the field of geology, Prof. Ing. Valdet Pruthi, said that projects which are developed on the surface can be controlled with different filters and technologies, while those involving drilling and are developed under the ground, carry a risk in itself and cannot be controlled. Therefore, according to Pruthi, attention must be put on projects that receive approval from the Government, since the biggest cost may occur in case of remediation of the situation, rather than the cost of investing in the country.

The roundtable was followed with discussions by other participants as well, who stressed that impact analyzes of such investments should be conducted, in terms of economic, environmental and, in particular and social impact – noting that a significant number of Kosovo residents will be affected by activities that the aforementioned companies are attempting to develop through these projects, classified as strategic projects for Kosovo. Also, it was mentioned as concerning the fact that the decision to declare these projects of public interest was not consulted with other governmental bodies such as the Kosovo Agency for Environmental Protection, Department of Mines at the Ministry of Economic Development, Department of Water at the Ministry of environment and Spatial Planning, etc. Further discussions on the table discussed on the fact that although the investments will be over 30 million euros, the state’s benefit will be minimal, since the only benefit will be to collection of royalty of coal - which in total will be about 70 million euros and no more.

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