- Title: SERBIA: Open pit mine turned into giant lake by floods
- Date: 28th May 2014
- Summary: KOLUBARA, SERBIA (MAY 27, 2014) (REUTERS) TWO ROADS TO FLOODED OPEN PIT COAL MINE FLOODED LARGE EXCAVATOR VARIOUS OF WORKERS LAUNCHING RUBBER DINGHY IN WATER WORKERS WATCHING FROM PLATFORM MEN IN RUBBER DINGHY ON WATER FLOODED OPEN PIT COAL MINE / BOAT ON WATER VARIOUS FLOODED LARGE EXCAVATOR LARGE EXCAVATOR IN WATER MILORAD GRCIC (LEFT) GENERAL DIRECTOR OF KOLUBARA MINE AND MIODRAG RANKOVIC, PRESIDENT OF WORKERS UNION (RIGHT TALKING ON MOBILE PHONE) STANDING RANKOVIC TALKING ON MOBILE PHONE FLOODED COAL PIT (SOUNDBITE) (Serbian) PRESIDENT OF WORKERS UNION, MIODRAG RANKOVIC, SAYING: "Here we normally excavate 14 million tons (per year) which is half of the Kolubara mine production. So until this pit is open again, that means 20 percent less electricity for Serbia." LARGE EXCAVATOR IN WATER (SOUNDBITE) (Serbian) PRESIDENT OF WORKERS UNION, MIODRAG RANKOVIC, SAYING: "As you can see, we immediately built an extra dam on Kolubara where the water broke in. We saved three large excavators, at the moment five digging machines are still in the water, three are completely under water, and two smaller in the other open-pit which cannot be seen. The damage is enormous, for the whole Kolubara system, for the Serbian electricity system, for the whole country. But having saved human lives, here and in Obrenovac town, that's the most important thing." MAN STANDING NEXT TO WATER PUMPS WATER PUMPS ON SHORE WATER PUMPS HOSES IN WATER GRCIC TALKING TO SERBIAN ARMY OFFICER SERBIAN OFFICER TAKING NOTES (SOUNDBITE) (Serbian) GENERAL DIRECTOR OF KOLUBARA MINE, MILORAD GRCIC, SAYING: "But it is very important that we have a plan, and very soon we are going to realize this plan together with EPS (referring to the state-run power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije) and the Serbian ministry for energy, to use a system of water pumps. We are expecting to get some pumps from the Netherlands and the Czech Republic." FLOODED OPEN PIT COAL MINE LARGE EXCAVATOR
- Embargoed: 12th June 2014 13:00
- Location: Serbia
- Country: Serbia
- Topics: Business,Disasters,Environment
- Reuters ID: LVA56WTN75FWYNK3GN45GM8J4K2B
- Story Text: Flood waters turn the Kolubara mines into lakes. Officials say it will take almost a year to pump all the water out of the mines and start the coal production again.
Floods in the Balkan region have hit Serbia's fragile energy sector hard, leaving the country scrambling for supplies and facing a year-long battle to drain a coal mine serving its biggest power plant.
The floods have killed more than 40 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless in Serbia and Bosnia after the heaviest rainfall in 120 years caused rivers to burst their banks and triggered hundreds of landslides.
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said the biggest flood damage is at the Kolubara coal mine complex, which feeds the Nikola Tesla power plant located on the Sava river, about 40 kilometres southwest of Belgrade.
The flood water turned the Kolubara mines into lakes. At some places, the water is as deep as 60 metres. Each of the four mines is flooded, two of them completely, and the management had to use powerful water pumps to empty the open mines, but it will take a year to finish it. The damage in the Kolubara mines from the flood is estimated to at 100 million euros.
The 4,000 megawatt complex, which supplies about half of Serbia's electricity, is now operating at less than 20 percent capacity, the president of the Kolubara workers union said on Tuesday (May 27).
"Here we normally excavate 14 million tons (per year) which is half of the Kolubara mine production," said Miodrag Rankovic. "So until this pit is open again, that means 20 percent less electricity for Serbia."
Many large excavators, diggers and other coal digging machinery are still under water, he said.
"As you can see, we immediately build an extra dam on Kolubara where the water broke in. We saved three large excavators, at the moment five digging machines are still in the water, three are completely under water, and two smaller in the other open-pit which cannot be seen. The damage is enormous, for the whole Kolubara system, for the Serbian electricity system, for the whole country."
This has raised concern that emergency power imports from neighbouring countries might need to continue before workers can drain the mines and restore full production at Kolubara.
More than 90 percent of Kolubara's 90,000 tonne per day output goes to the Nikola Tesla plant, officials said.
The Kolubara General Manager Milorad Grcic said it would take a year to drain the Tamnava open cast pit within the mine complex. Tamnava accounts for half the complex's total production.
"But t is very important that we have a plan, and very soon we are going to realize this plan together with EPS (referring to the state-run power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije) and the Serbian ministry for energy," he said, "to use a system of water pumps".
While the government and utility EPS have said three blocks in the Nikola Tesla power plant complex could return soon, the question remains of when it will receive enough coal supplies to return to full capacity.
A spokesman for Kolubara mine said preliminary production in one of the fields will start by the end of the week and the coal transport to the power plant would resume.
The flooding has highlighted the need for investment in the Western Balkans where mostly state-run utilities have added no capacity since the wars of the 1990s when many power plants, grids and other energy infrastructure were destroyed or badly damaged. Those patched up plants are now ageing rapidly.
The floods have also sliced back capacity of Serbia's largest hydro power plants complex Djerdap, which accounts for 25 percent of the country's total power output.
The biggest hydro plant, located at Djedrap, has reduced production by 30 percent due to high water levels on the Danube river. Levels are expected to remain high until at least the end of the week.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2014. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None