ArcelorMittal steel production factory, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The citizens of Zenica are not convinced with the ArcelorMittal steel factory claims about the intentions to seriously invest in environmental improvements given that the Zenica’s air is still one of the most polluted in B&H.


The steel factory ArcelorMittal Zenica is owned by the world largest steel producer – the ArcelorMittal Corporation. The factory, originally state-owned was privatized and Arcelor-Mittal is now the main shareholder, with the government owning a symbolic share.

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Basic Data
NameArcelorMittal steel production factory, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina
CountryBosnia and Herzegovina
ProvinceZenica-Doboj Canton
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Metal refineries
Specific CommoditiesCentral heating
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsProduction capacity= 1,000,000 tonnes of steel

Employees= 3,000 people

The plant produced 700,000 tonnes in 2012.

ArcelorMittal acquired 51 per cent of BH Steel in August 2004. As part of the agreement with the government of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Kuwaiti Investment Agency, ArcelorMittal agreed to invest $80 million in new share capital, $65 million in working capital and a further $135 million on new plant and equipment over ten years.

Data from the Register of plants and pollution of the Federal Ministry of Environment and Tourism -made publicly available in 2016 in a joint activity by several B&H's NGOs including Eko forum-, show that Mittal factory sent a total of 815,098 tons of coal in in 2014, which resulted in 4.5 million kilograms of CO2 released into the atmosphere. This is 40 times bigger amount of coal than used for households heating in Zenica and 29 times more than a total amount of coal from all sources (households and other industrial polluters).

Mittal release in the atmosphere around 375,000 kg of SO2 monthly.
Project Area (in hectares)50,000
Level of Investment (in USD)280,000,000
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population150,000
Start Date2008
Company Names or State EnterprisesArcelor Mittal from Luxembourg
Relevant government actorsThe City of Zenica; Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Ministry of Environment Protection of Bosnia and Herzegovina
International and Financial InstitutionsEuropean Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) - In 2005 approved a 25 million euros loan to ArcelorMittal for improving its production.
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersEko forum Zenica; Farmers association of the Zenica-Doboj Canton; Czech NGO "Arnika"
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Industrial workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
On line petition, social media activism
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Noise pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Air pollution
Potential: Groundwater pollution or depletion
OtherThe pollution in Zenica is easily perceived as the city’s windows and balconies are constantly covered in black dust. PM 10 and SO2 have repeatedly exceeded 'alert' levels where according to the The Federation of BiH’s air pollution legislation, the acceptable concentration of sulfur-dioxide in the air is 350 micrograms, and Zenica’s air reached 1,392 mg per cubic meter. In addition to these harmful pollutants Zenica citizens are most concerned about carcinogenic air pollutant benzene and volatile organic compounds.
Health ImpactsVisible: Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
OtherIn the industrial district of Zenica the number of tumors have increased alarmingly over the last ten years.

Chronic pneumonia and bronchitis, sarcoidosis.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood
OtherHeavy metals (lead, cadmium and arsenic) have been found in vegetables and milk produces in Zenica. Many people in this area live form selling vegetables.
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseEnvironmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (undecided)
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Application of existing regulations
Development of AlternativesThe citizens of Zenica demand emissions monitoring by third party, and installation of filters on the plant according to the current legislation that proclaims use of the best available technology (BAT) in order to comply with environmental standards and to obtain a proper environmental permit. The closing of the plant is not being considered as it supplies Zenica with heating and provides employment to number of people from the area.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The claims of the company from 2008, that the plant will comply with EU environmental standards by 2012, never came true. Finally, on 15th of November 2013, ArcelorMittal, has installed a filter ($ 8,500,000) in blast furnace. However, on 17th of December 2013, the concentration of SO2 in the air reached a record 1,392 mg. The pollution continued in 2014 and 2015, while company claims that the delay in improvements of its ecological performance is caused by the fact that it inherited very old equipment and huge technological challenges hard to overcome fast. In addition, in the past years steel plants in Europe faced serious market challenges, which further hinders investment in environmental improvements. The entire process is helped by the fact that implementation and compliance with the Environmental laws in B&H is at a low level.
Sources and Materials

Laws in the field of environment protection, Bosnia and Herzegovina
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Pročitajte Smajlovićevo pismo Ministarstvu okoliša
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Integrisani registar zagađivača
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Citizens of Zenica protest Mittal pollution
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CEE Bank Watch network: Hundreds to protest against ArcelorMittal in Bosnia and Herzegovina
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CAR lines Dec 2013, pg. 13
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BUKA Foto priča: Opšta opasnost u Zenici
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Bosnians Protest Against Mittal Plant Pollution
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Hiljade Zeničana u protestu: 3000 dana bez čistog zraka!
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[3] Arcelor Mittal Zenica page
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ArcelorMittal: Going nowhere slowly. A review of the global steel giant's environmental and social impacts in 2008-2009, pg.17
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[2] Zenica, Bosnia’s heart of steel
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[1] Dying of Pollution in Zenica
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Blog Jasmin Mujanović-The Demands of the People of Bosnia-Herzegovina (English), Zenica
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MITTAL OBEĆAO ZENIČANIMA: Od ponedjeljka prestajemo sa kršenjem zakona
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Zabrinjavajuće zagađenje zraka u Zenici: Rekordne vrijednosti sumpor dioksida
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Teška industrija u Zenici i Tuzli zagadila prehrambene artikle
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Zenica: I jedu i prodaju zagađene špinat, mrkvu i salatu
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Air Pollution is Choking Bosnia, Experts Warn
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Smajlović podnio tužbu protiv ministarstva okoliša i turizma FBiH
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Patria donosi detaljnu analizu: Životi Zeničana žrtvovani zarad profita ArcelorMittala
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ArcelorMittal Zenica Bosnia & Ostrava CZ with severe pollution issues with local communities
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Zagađenje u Zenici: Rješavanje problema tek nakon oboljenja?
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Najveći zagađivači u Bosni i Hercegovini: Željezara ArcelorMittal i termoelektrane Elektroprivrede BiH
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ArcelorMittal Zenica nastavlja trovanje građana bez važećih okolišnih dozvola
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Međunarodni izvještaj otkrio da je teška industrija u Zenici i Tuzli ozbiljno zagadila prehrambene artikle
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ArcelorMittal Zenica: Novi ekološki projekat trebao bi poboljšati kvalitet zraka u gradu (FOTO)
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U Zenici dijalog o rješavanju problema zagađenja okoliša iz industrijskih postrojenja
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Biggest polluters of Bosnia and Herzegovina: ArcelorMittal steelworks and Elektroprivreda power stations
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Najveći zagađivači u Bosni i Hercegovini: željezara ArcelorMittal i termoelektrane Elektroprivrede BiH AND Građani će napokon saznati ko zagađuje zrak u Bosni i Hercegovini
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ArcelorMittal Zenica: Naša kompanija nije jedini krivac za velike količine zagađenja
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Zenica: Zagađenje zraka ponovo se mjeri crvenim brojkama
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ISTRAŽIVANJA DOKAZALA: Kompanija Arcelor Mittal je najveći zagađivač u Zenici!
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Media Links

On pollution in national news 2
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On pollution in national news 1
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Photo Gallery
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Arcelor Mittal Zenica Zagadjenje
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Zenica zagadjenje inserti
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Photos Arcelormittal Zenica
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Zenica: Najava tužbe zbog zagađenosti zraka
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ArcelorMittal Zenica
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Krivične prijave za katastrofalno stanje okoliša u Zenici
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Other Documents

Zenica Mittal Protests From Balkan Insight
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Zenica on 17th of Dec 2013 Alarmingly high concentration of 1,392 mg of SO2 recorded on display connected to pollution measuring station
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Meta Information
ContributorJovanka Spiric, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)
Last update24/05/2016