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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
Name of conflict:ArcelorMittal steel production factory, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Country:Bosnia and Herzegovina
State or province:Zenica-Doboj Canton
Location of conflict:Zenica
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 commodities:Steel
Central heating
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Production capacity= 1,000,000 tonnes of steel

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Project area:50,000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project280,000,000
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:150,000
Start of the conflict:2008
Company names or state enterprises:Arcelor Mittal from Luxembourg
Relevant government actors:The City of Zenica; Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Ministry of Environment Protection of Bosnia and Herzegovina
International and Finance InstitutionsEuropean Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) - In 2005 approved a 25 million euros loan to ArcelorMittal for improving its production.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Eko forum Zenica; Farmers association of the Zenica-Doboj Canton; Czech NGO "Arnika"
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Industrial workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Community-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
Other Environmental impactsThe 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
Other Health impactsIn the industrial district of Zenica the number of tumors have increased alarmingly over the last ten years.
Chronic pneumonia and bronchitis, sarcoidosis.
Socio-economical 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
Other socio-economic impactsHeavy 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
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (undecided)
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Application of existing regulations
Proposal and development of alternatives:The 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain: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 & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

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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[1] Dying of Pollution in Zenica
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[2] Zenica, Bosnia’s heart of steel
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[3] Arcelor Mittal Zenica page
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CEE Bank Watch network: Hundreds to protest against ArcelorMittal in Bosnia and Herzegovina
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Citizens of Zenica protest Mittal pollution
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BUKA Foto priča: Opšta opasnost u Zenici
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CAR lines Dec 2013, pg. 13
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Hiljade Zeničana u protestu: 3000 dana bez čistog zraka!
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Bosnians Protest Against Mittal Plant Pollution
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Blog Jasmin Mujanović-The Demands of the People of Bosnia-Herzegovina (English), Zenica
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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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MITTAL OBEĆAO ZENIČANIMA: Od ponedjeljka prestajemo sa kršenjem zakona
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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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Zenica: I jedu i prodaju zagađene špinat, mrkvu i salatu
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ArcelorMittal Zenica Bosnia & Ostrava CZ with severe pollution issues with local communities
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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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ArcelorMittal Zenica nastavlja trovanje građana bez važećih okolišnih dozvola
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ISTRAŽIVANJA DOKAZALA: Kompanija Arcelor Mittal je najveći zagađivač u Zenici!
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ArcelorMittal Zenica: Naša kompanija nije jedini krivac za velike količine zagađenja
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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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Zenica: Zagađenje zraka ponovo se mjeri crvenim brojkama
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Zabrinjavajuće zagađenje zraka u Zenici: Rekordne vrijednosti sumpor dioksida
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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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Zagađenje u Zenici: Rješavanje problema tek nakon oboljenja?
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Teška industrija u Zenici i Tuzli zagadila prehrambene artikle
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Najveći zagađivači u Bosni i Hercegovini: Željezara ArcelorMittal i termoelektrane Elektroprivrede BiH
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

On pollution in national news 1
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Arcelor Mittal Zenica Zagadjenje
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On pollution in national news 2
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Photo Gallery
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Zenica zagadjenje inserti
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Krivične prijave za katastrofalno stanje okoliša u Zenici
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Zenica: Najava tužbe zbog zagađenosti zraka
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Photos Arcelormittal Zenica
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ArcelorMittal Zenica
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Meta information
Contributor:Jovanka Spiric, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1131
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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