Residents of Krivelj Block Road Through Village as Promises Remain Unfulfilled

photo: Dejan Todorović

For the past two weeks, residents of Krivelj have been blocking the road with vehicles and workers from the Zijin company passing through the village center towards Cerovo and other destinations. They express dissatisfaction with the expansion of mining, which they claim jeopardizes their lives and property, especially since Zijin took over Mining and Smelting Basin Bor. They expect compensation from the Chinese company and demand that Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Minister of Mining Dubravka Đedović Handanović visit the village.

Residents of Krivelj blocking the road in the village center addressed the public with a statement, stating, among other things:

We have witnessed a significant increase in the intensity of work since the Zijin Copper company took over the Mining and Smelting Basin Bor company, leading to endangerment of the safety and lives of residents, complete infrastructure, significant material damage to private properties throughout the village of Krivelj.

Since 2018, intensive discussions have been held on the Spatial Plan for the Bor-Majdanpek Mining Basin, with a special focus on relocating the village of Krivelj, which are still ongoing and have not yet provided solutions to some basic issues. Among other reasons for dissatisfaction is the payment of non-material costs that the mining company pays to residents who have opted for individual relocations, while refusing to pay residents who seek collective relocation, creating discrimination between these two groups of people.

At the same time, the location for the collective relocation of the village of Krivelj has not been finalized. Neither has the legal regulation and expropriation in that area been completed.

Due to polluted soil, air, and water, evidenced by toxicological analyses of soil and crops, people are abandoning agricultural production, resulting in lost profits. Local roads have been turned into industrial ones, making safe traffic impossible.

The intensity of blasting is so strong that daily tremors equivalent to weak earthquakes up to 2.6 on the Richter scale have damaged residential and ancillary buildings. There have been several discussions with the local government of Bor and the management of the Zijin Copper company regarding compensation for damaged properties, which has not been honored in practice. Agreements reached with Chinese management have not been honored over the past five years.

The lack of an Impact Study for many mining facilities, especially for the Krivelj River tunnel and the water dam redirecting the flow of the Kriveljska River, poses a threat to the safety of all Krivelj residents. In order to build this mining facility, Zijin company uses regional and local roads to transport heavy machinery, which is inadequately secured, resulting in a lot of soil and sand scattered along the roads. This increases traffic in the village center, making vehicle movement difficult, with particular concern about the load-bearing capacity of the bridge in the village center, whose safety needs to be verified as there are visible damages. This endangers the safety of all traffic participants, especially school children.

Living in such an environment with an uncertain present and future, people in despair sell their property at a significantly lower price than the market value, which the company only pays and recognizes.”

In addition to addressing the Zijin company, the statement was sent to the entire state leadership and ministry, as well as representatives of the City of Bor.

The disappointment among residents and their feeling of being forgotten by all is evident from Ljubomir Stanković from Krivelj, who has already moved once due to mine expansion.

After several days of blocking the main road through Krivelj, representatives of the mining company came to negotiate in the village. During the talks, residents presented their demands and deadlines for their fulfillment, announcing that they would block the road for 24 hours, at best until February 10. They will continue to monitor whether the Zijin company will start fulfilling the demands they have submitted and adjust the blockade accordingly in the coming days. They add that they will continue communication exclusively through official email, not as previously through verbal agreements. They say they are a patient people, but their patience is running out, and they will not give up the fight until their list of demands is met, with the timeline they have also submitted to Zijin’s top officials.

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.