Kolubara B lignite-fired power plant, Serbia
The Kolubara B thermal power plant site is situated near Kalenic village, 60 km south-west of Belgrade, at the northern side of the Tamnava Open Cast Mine. The decision to build the 2 x 350 MW plant was taken in 1983 and construction started in 1988. Construction progressed slowly until 1992, when work was suspended due to sanctions against Serbia. At this stage, about 40 per cent of the facility had already been constructed, partly with the assistance of a World Bank loan.
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Rising from the dead
In 2011 the results of an international tender were announced, in which Italian utility Edison was the only company to submit a bid. Edison’s offer was accepted, and a joint venture agreement signed with Elektroprivreda Srbije on the development of the Kolubara B project in June 2011.
In the meantime, in July 2011 the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) approved an EUR 80 million loan to provide new equipment for the Kolubara lignite mines. For more information about the project see here.
Although in March 2012 the EBRD announced that it was considering investing in the Kolubara B plant, on 6 September 2013, it confirmed to Bankwatch by email that it was no longer examining participation in the project.
For several years, the Kolubara B project appeared to be history. Yet in August 2018, the Minister of Mining and Energy that a working group had been formed to move the project forward. In November 2019, the Minister further announced that a technical study had been completed, which indicated the feasibility of completing the project. In early 2020 a preliminary construction agreement was signed with PowerChina and project-level spatial planning was launched.
In May 2021, Serbian media reported that the project had once again been cancelled, this time at the request of the Minister for Energy and Mining.
Long-term problems with corruption at Kolubara
The existing Kolubara mine has frequently been associated with corruption and mismanagement and years of EBRD support for EPS do not seem to have changed this. On 9 September 2013, it was reported that the police had arrested the former director of the Kolubara Mining Basin, Nebojsa Ceran, former financial director Ljubisa Nekic, businessman Radoslav Savatijevic, and several other individuals. The arrestees are suspected of fraud in land expropriation proceedings around the Kolubara mine.
These were not the first cases of corruption in Kolubara. Together with 27 others, in April 2012, Dragan Tomic, former director of the Kolubara coal mine was charged with embezzling USD 11 million from Kolubara between 2006 and 2007. Tomic allegedly paid private companies for unnecessary mining equipment and services. Kolubara was overcharged for the number of hours put in by the private companies, and Kolubara executives did not follow appropriate public procurement procedures. The court hearings started only in 2017 and as of early 2023, appear to still be ongoing. In July 2022 Insajder broadcast a TV show looking at the case and why it is taking so long to conclude.