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Coal production woes: Challenges and criticism in Serbia’s energy sector

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In the first quarter of this year, the Electric Power Company of Serbia witnessed a significant shortfall in coal production compared to projections, according to a document obtained by N1. Coal production fell short by 817,000 tons compared to the planned amount and was 190,000 tons lower than the same period last year. Dragoslav Ljubičić from the Elektroprivreda Srbije union sheds light on the causes of this discrepancy and points fingers at responsible parties, emphasizing that EPS’s positive financial outcome is largely a result of last year’s triple hike in electricity tariffs.

Minister of Mining and Energy, Dubravka Đedović Handanović, hailed stable production and financial performance in EPS’s quarterly report. However, an analysis provided to N1 paints a different picture.

Ljubičić expressed concern over the state of affairs, noting the absence of a permanent director for EPS. He attributed the decline in coal production to various factors, including reduced output in the thermal sector and substantial coal imports, initially from neighboring regions and later from Indonesia. He highlighted the significant reliance on imported coal since the crisis in EPS began on December 21, 2021.

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Following management changes, particularly the appointment of Miroslav Tomasević, EPS initiated measures to ensure sustainable coal production, acknowledging the limitations in Kolubara’s mining capacity. However, Ljubičić criticized recent developments, accusing the state of prioritizing short-term financial gains over long-term stability.

He emphasized that the positive financial outcome in EPS was primarily driven by tariff hikes rather than improved operational efficiency. Ljubičić lamented the influence of non-professionals in EPS leadership, particularly in the mining sector, leading to mismanagement and legal disputes with workers.

Highlighting the broader implications, he criticized EPS for undermining citizens’ property rights and flouting international conventions. Ljubičić underscored the urgency of addressing these issues to ensure the sustainable management of Serbia’s energy sector.

In summary, challenges in coal production and management issues within EPS underscore the need for comprehensive reforms to safeguard the country’s energy security and uphold citizens’ rights.

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