The volume of geological research in Serbia has increased significantly in the past ten years, and in that period dozens of exploration permits were issued, mostly for sites in the east of the country, where mining is traditionally the most prevalent in these areas.
The intensive development of mining in the past period is indicated by the data that more than 4.3 billion euros were invested in the mining sector in the last ten years, mostly foreign investments, while more than 700 million euros were invested in the field of geological research. The realized growth of the mining sector in 2022 compared to the previous year is 22.6 percent.
According to the data obtained by BIRN at the time, about 100 companies registered in our country have permits for the exploration of ores and metals in Serbia, and the total area on which they conduct tests is 5,673 square kilometers, which is a territory the size of a quarter of Vojvodina.
In reality, that work is mostly in the hands of only a dozen companies, mostly foreign, which, through affiliated companies, own exploration rights on approximately 90 percent of the territory where possibilities for opening mines are being examined.
The turning point for the takeoff of the ore exploration business in Serbia was 2015, when the Law on Mining and Geological Exploration was amended. With the amendments to that act, which was adopted by the Serbian Parliament in December 2015, local authorities were deprived of the authority to issue exploration permits, and the decision-making on this matter was transferred to the Ministry of Mining and Energy. The new rules put investors and ore explorers in a much more favorable position, because they “finished” their work at one address in Belgrade.
Of the 30 leading companies by the area on which they explore ores, 15 of them were founded since 2015. Those companies have more than 50 percent share in the total area where ores are explored in Serbia.
Predrag Mijatović, deputy director of the Geological Institute, confirms for Danas that in the last ten to 15 years there has been an expansion of geological research in Serbia.
One of the reasons are the amendments to the Law on Mining and Environmental Research from 2015, which stipulates that companies that conduct research in the field no longer need to ask for permission from the local self-government, but the line ministry is in charge of it. Another important reason for the expansion of geological research in our region is that it is a trend present all over the world, including in Serbia – says our interlocutor.