Nickel ore exploration mining, Trstenik, Serbia

Despite strong opposition by local people and authorities of Trstenik, the New Law on Mining and Geological Research from 2015 allowed for issuing exploration permits for nickel exploitation without consulting the municipal authorities.


Serbian Nickel DOO Company was established in 2010. In November 2011 Serbian Nickel obtained a permit from the Ministry of the Environment (was valid until the end of 2012), to conduct exploratory mining of nickel ore in the territories of three municipalities: Trstenik, Vrnjačka banja and Topola. The main economic activity in these municipalities is production of fruits and vegetables. After the company announced exploration plans on the location that coincided with the fertile land and located in close proximity to Trstenik city center and municipal sources of drinking and mineral water, the local government and community started protesting against it. The nickel ore exploration in this region was previously conducted by the Government of Yugoslavia in the 1950s and 1960s. The result of the exploration showed the existence of nickel ore deposits of only 1% grade. In 2006, the European Nickel Company tried to get a permit for nickel exploitation in Mokra Gora, without success. The owner of Serbian Nickel was found to be associated with European Nickel. In September 2012 the municipal government of Trstenik forbid any future explorations and mining on its territory. Next month the Ministry of mining, natural resources and spatial planning organized a public debate in Belgrade about nickel exploration, on which the mayors of three involved municipalities were not invited. In December 2012, after the legal deadline, the company submitted an incomplete request to the Ministry of mining to prolong its exploration permit. In February 2013, the Government proposed a new law on mining which included the possibility of making decisions on exploration mining without previously consulting affected municipalities.

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Basic Data
NameNickel ore exploration mining, Trstenik, Serbia
SiteTrstenik, Topola and Vrnjacka Banja
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Specific CommoditiesNickel ore
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe nickel exploration license includes exploration on 10,000 ha and the taking of 150,000-200,000 tonnes of surface soil in both Trstenik and Topola.
Project Area (in hectares)20,000
Level of Investment (in USD)5,400,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population70,000
Start Date2012
End Date04/12/2015
Company Names or State EnterprisesSerbian Nickel DOO from Serbia - Exploration company
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Natural Resources, Mining and Spatial Planing of Republic of Serbia; Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of Republic of Serbia; Municipal Government of Trstenik; Municipal Government of Topola; Municipal Government of Vrnjačka Banja; Institute of Nature Conservation of Serbia
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersFacebook groups Against nickel explorations;

Zeleni Srbije; Serbian Academy of Science and Arts; Committie of Environmental Protection of Assembly of Serbia.
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Celebrities, including filmmaker Emir Kusturica
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
OtherThe health hazards of nickel exploitation and production to local populations include problems with the lungs and stomach, nausea and diarrhoea.
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (failure for environmental justice)
New legislation
Project temporarily suspended
Project temporarily suspended by decision of the municipal authorities; Recentralization
Development of AlternativesThe municipalities and local communities are against any mining activities in the region. They are asking the Ministry of mining to cancel the permit for exploratory mining and suggest investments in agriculture and tourism activities.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.In 2015, the Serbian parliament adopted a new Law on Mining and Geological Research that took away the power from the municipal authorities. This enabled the interested companies to obtain licenses for exploration and exploitation of nickel ore in Trstenik and other municipalities.
Sources and Materials

Zakon o rudarstvu i geoloskim istrazivanjima (Sl Glasnik RS. Br 88/2011)
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Zakon o rudarstvu i geološkim istraživanjima Decembar 2015
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Bačević dao odobrenje za nikl iako je rok istekao (various links to project documentation)
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Trstenik: Nikl ponovo na sudu (Vecernje novosti 8.2.2014.)
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Trstenik: Krivicna prijava zbog nikla (Vecernje novosti 19.11.2013.)
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Javna rasprava o niklu 12.oktobra (Akter 05.10.2012.)
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Potpisima protiv nikla (Vecernje novosti 21.11.2013.)
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Bivsi poslanik DS direktor Srbija nikla
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Nickel debate: Expert urges "50-year ban"
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Serbia’s Nickel: Some Things Aren’t for Sale… Or Aren’t They?
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Blic u poseti selu Veluca kod Trstenika (BLIC 16.11.2013.)
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Ne treba nam saglasnost Trstenika (Akter 18.11.2013.)
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Sumadijske opstine protiv eksploatacije nikla (Sumadija Press 11.2.2013.)
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Zeleni: Gradjane da pitaju o niklu (B92 18.11.2013.)
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Trstenicki okrugli sto (Danas 18.11.2013.)
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Trstenik: Strah od rudarskog okna (Vecernje novosti 7.2.2013.)
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Aleksic: Slucaj nikl prijavljen inspekciji (Vecernje novosti 10.2.2014.)
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Serbians Unite Against Nickel Extraction
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Trstenik protiv rudnika nikla (Politika 14.11.2013.)
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Srbiju truje crnogorski klan? (Vesti online 19.11.2013.)
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Drzava odlucuje o eksploataciji nikla (Vecernje novosti 10.2.2013.)
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Odbacena tuzba Trstenika za istrazivanje nikla (Vecernje novosti 7.2.2014.)
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Zar je topola za jalovinu (Politika 7.11.2012.)
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Kusturica I celnici opstina nisu pozvani na raspravu
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Trsteničani strahuju zbog novog Zakona o rudarstvu
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Srpske opštine nemoćne protiv opasnog nikla
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Apel lokalnih samouprava: Eksploatacija nikla je ekološka bomba
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Zakon o rudarstvu i geološkim istraživanjima otvara mogućnost eksploatacije nikla u Trsteniku
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Ozakonjeno trovanje niklom
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Opštine protiv rudnika nikla!
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Media Links

RTS video
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RTS Video “Niklovanje Srbije”
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Other Documents

Street art against nickel explorations The sign plays with words Trstenik and Nikl (nickel in Serbian)
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Meta Information
ContributorJovanka Spiric, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)
Last update30/05/2016