The Commercial Court in Zaječar acquitted „Serbia Zijin Copper doo“ for commercial offence

The Commercial Court in Zaječar acquitted the company “Serbia Zijin Copper doo” from Bor and a responsible person from this company, for the economic offense of carrying out mining works without the approval of the Ministry of Mining and Energy of the Republic of Serbia. The judge of the Commercial Court, Irena Kulić, delivered the acquittal on the basis of Article 2, paragraph 2, of the Law on Economic Offenses, which states that “an economic offense is not a violation of the regulations on economic or financial operations which, although it contains features of an economic offense determined by the regulation, represents an insignificant social harmfulness due to small importance and due to insignificance or absence of harmful consequences”.

The judgment states that the defendants “are acquitted of the charges that they are contrary to the provisions of Article 101 paragraph 1 of the Law on Mining and Geological Research in the period from January 1st 2022 until October 4, 2022, on the territory of the city of Bor, without approved project documentation, they carried out mining works on the implementation of the project for the construction of a waste mine water treatment plant, without a decision of the competent Ministry on approval for the construction of mining facilities and the performance of mining works, thereby committing a violation from Article 181 paragraph 1 item 5 and paragraph 2 in relation to Article 101 paragraph 1 of the Law on Mining and Geological Research, because the act for which they are accused is not an economic crime”.

The indictment, based on the report of Renewables and Environmental Regulatory Institute (RERI), referred to the construction of a plant for the treatment of waste mine water from the Cerovo and Jama mines, which has been operating for a year, and was built without the permission of the competent ministry. At the main trial held on March 28, 2023, the defense of the company “Serbia Zijin Copper doo” was, as in previous cases, aimed at the fact that the company had to start emergency works to prevent the ecological disaster of the spillage of waste water into the basins of the surrounding watercourses that flow from the River Timok into the anube. On this occasion, the defense of Zijin submitted to the judge the Decision on approval for the execution of mining works, which was obtained on March 10, and the application for the works was made on March 24, just a few days before the main trial!

Ljubica Vukčević, RERI’s lawyer, told us then that this is not, as it is portrayed, an environmental facility, but a project for which an environmental impact assessment had to be done.

We remind you that this company from Bor was convicted four times last year for violating the Law on Mining and Geological Research, with fines that were below the legal minimum, from 300 thousand dinars to one million hundred thousand dinars.

The continuous mild punishment of Zijin by the Commercial Court in Zaječar, and this time a complete acquittal, certainly cannot be considered as good judicial practice, but as support and encouragement of a multiple returnee.

Association “Za Drinking Fountains”

This text was produced within the project “Environmental response to mining expansion in Timočka Krajina” funded by the European Union, and implemented by the Association “Za Drinking Fountains”, the Association of Young Researchers Bor, Civic Library “Europe” Bor and Children’s Center Zaječar. The content of the text is entirely responsibility of these associations and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.