Lignite is of outstanding importance in Kosovo. It contributes 97% of the total electricity generation, with just 3% being based on hydropower. At 14,700 Mt, Kosovo possesses the world’s fifth-largest proven reserves of lignite. The lignite is distributed across the Kosovo, Dukagjin and Drenica Basins, although mining has so far been restricted to the Kosovo Basin. The first systematic records of lignite exploitation date from 1922, when small-scale, shallow underground room-and-pillar mining commenced in the Kosovo Basin. Large-scale winning of lignite began with the first production from the Mirash (1958) and Bardh (1969) open-pit mines, using bucketwheel excavators.
Cumulative exploitation from the commencement of mining in 1922 up to the end of 2004 has amounted to 265 Mt. Geologically, Kosovo’s lignite mines exploit one of the most favorable lignite deposits in Europe. The average stripping ratio is 1.7m3 of waste to one tonne of coal and the total estimated economically exploitable resource represents one of the richest in Europe, which would allow ambitious power generation and expansion schemes in forthcoming decades.
The lignite is of high quality for the generation of electricity and compares well with the lignite resources of neighbouring countries on a range of parameters. Kosovo’s lignite varies in net calorific value (NCV) from 6.28-9.21 MJ/kg, averaging 7.8 MJ/kg. The deposits (Pliocene in age) can be up to 100 m thick, but average 40 m, and possess an average strip ratio of 1.7:1. This combination has meant that the cost of lignite-fuelled electricity in Kosovo is the lowest in the region. Kosovo’s cost of €0.62/GJ compares favourably with €0.88/GJ in Bulgaria and €1.34/GJ in Serbia and Montenegro.
Further development of lignite mining in the medium term will continue with the exploitation of the Sibovc mining field in the northern part of the Kosovo Basin, and provides a great opportunity for private investors.
In what today is Kosovo, base-metal mining has been a mainstay of the economy, since pre-Roman times. Illyrians, Romans, Byzantines, Saxons, Turks, French and Britons have all conducted extensive mining in the region. These activities have been based on a series of nine mines, of which five comprise today’s Trepca Complex.
Modern mining began in the 1930s, when the British company Selection Trust Ltd revamped the Trepca Complex, including the development of a battery factory that utilised the lead. Active mining of the five mines ceased during the NATO bombing campaign. The locations of the Trepca mines define the Trepca Mineral Belt. There are three NNW-SSE trending zones of mineralisation within this belt that hosts the ore deposits.
Zone I includes the Artana (Novo Brdo) mine and follows the boundary between the Vardar Zone and the Kosovo sector of the Serbo-Macedonian Massif, which is characterised by extensive Neogene calc-alkaline volcanics and intrusives.
Zone II includes the Belo Brdo, Stan Terg and Hajvalia mines. This zone follows the major fault that marks the eastern margin of the Miocene Pristina basin, and its extension to the NNW and the intrusive and volcanic complexes in northern Kosovo.
Zone III includes the Crnac mine, and hosts a number of lead-zinc occurrences along the western border of the Vardar Zone, where it is in contact with the Dinaride Drina-Ivanjica (Drenica) structural block.
Current estimates for combined mineable reserves for the five mines have been undertaken, but all of the deposits are open at depth and their strike lengths are uncertain, owing to a lack of systematic exploration and definition drilling.
During the lead-zinc-silver exploitation at Farbani Potok (Artana-Novo Brdo), about 3 Mt of high-grade halloysite (Al2Si2O5(OH)4) was discovered. This is only one of five known exploitable deposits of this very high-value (US$140-450/t) clay, the other four being in New Zealand, Turkey, China and Utah, US. Current world production is estimated at 150,000 t/y.
Former open-pit mining operations based on laterite were undertaken at Çikatova (Dushkaja and Suke) and Gllavica. Remaining mineable reserves have been calculated as 13.2 Mt averaging 1.42% Ni and 0.05% Co. Production stopped in 1999 and has yet to resume.
The socially owned enterprise (SOE) ‘Ferronikeli’ mining complex has been put to international competitive tender for privatization. The tender is in its final evaluation phase.
Once a successful bidder has been awarded a privatization contract, the restart of production should take place. Kosovo hosts numerous other nickel-bearing literates.
A chain of Alpine-type chromite pods in southwestern Kosovo are part of a series of linear deposits that continue into Albania. These pods are small but of high grade and in Albania are known to possess enhanced levels of platinum group metals (PGM).
From the end of World War Two until 1956, the ores were worked, primarily from the Djakova mine by Deva holding company, and direct-shipping ore was sent to Albania for treatment. When the high-grade ore was depleted, Kosovo began importing 30,000- 50,000 t/y of chromite ore from Albania. This ceased when the plant was closed in 1991. No meaningful exploration for chrome has been undertaken for several decades.
Kosovo’s bauxite deposits are hosted in karst limestone and have been exploited in a series of pits that comprise the Grebnik mine. The host limestone was worked as a construction material and a sizeable stockpile of broken limestone remains on site. Mining began in 1966 and ceased in 1990, owing to the deteriorating political climate in Kosovo. Total production was 2.85 Mt.
The traditional markets for bauxite from Grebnik were Romania, Germany and Russia. The mine had a fines mixing and bagging facility to produce wall plaster; production was 5,000 t/y, for the domestic market, and Montenegro and Macedonia.
Kosovo possesses two magnesite (MgCO3) mines at Golesh and Strezovc. Both were originally worked as quarries and both moved to underground operations prior to their closure in 1999.
Before 1990, the Golesh operation produced 110,000 t of magnesite, 22,000 t of sintered magnesia and 10,000 t of caustic calcined magnesia per annum. Golesh mine is accessed via a shaft, whereas Strezovc is accessed via a horizontal adit in the hillside.
Both mines have recently been put up for privatisation. For further information on the privatisation process, visit: www.kta-kosovo.org
Kosovo is rich in high quality construction minerals, such as andesite, basalt, diabas, gabbro, granite, limestone and marble.
Interesting opportunities occur for the production of high quality decoration and natural monument stones.
Large clay deposits are an excellent source for the production of bricks, tiles and other products.