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Air pollution from Makstil AD, Skopje, Macedonia


Skopje is the capital of Macedonia and represents a typical example of an industrialized city from the ex- Yugoslavia. Most of the “socialist” era facilities are closed; however, several of them are still in operation. Considering the fact that Skopje is in a valley, environmental pollution of the air is enormously high especially during autumn months.

One of the biggest air polluters is the Iron smelting factory- Makstil AD (Maksteel) that is situated very close to the center of the City. Makstil AD is an integrated producer of flat rolled steel products established in 1997 upon privatization and reconstruction of the former Mines and Iron & Steelworks Skopje, with Duferco Group as its main partner.

Since 2008, the citizens of Skopje and neighboring settlements have been protesting against the air pollution, and particularly against Makstil AD identified as the main air polluter, calling it “Skopje’s Chernobyl”. In December 2013, the environmental organization Ekosvest organized a petition against the company. The protests and marches became frequent, and have resulted in blockades and occupation of the factory in May and June 2014.

The Law on Environment, adopted in 2005 and harmonized with international legislation on air quality and emissions, obliged Makstil AD to by April 2014 apply for the “A” Integrated Environmental Permit and prepare an Action plan for use of clean technologies to limit the pollution, particularly of dust and micro-particles. The company asked the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning for various years of extension for accomplishing these requests; however, only 6 extra months have been approved i.e. the end of October 2014. Besides, the government requested from the State Inspectorate for Environment to impose to the company a several hundred thousand Euros fine.

At the moment the company is in operation while undertaking activities for development of the technical requirement for obtaining a Permit. The Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning is constantly monitoring the works.

Moreover, as a result of the citizens’ protests, the Ministry has been establishing of the mobile measuring units to monitor the air pollution from the factory. However, it is hard to know for sure which part of the pollution results from the Makstil operation and which from the other sources e.g. transport and other industries. The citizens and the Macedonian Green Party demanded closing the factory till obtaining “A” Environmental Permit. The Director of the Environment Inspectorate claimed the factory will be closed if it fails to fulfill the requirements until prescribed deadline. However, Makstil managed to complete all requirements for obtaining environmental permit by the 31 of October 2014. The factory resumed its production in January 2015 after a trial run of the gas filtration system. According to the company representatives, the steel factory now operates respecting the stricter environmental standards in accordance with the EU regulations.  

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Air pollution from Makstil AD, Skopje, Macedonia
Country:Macedonia, FYR
Location of conflict:Skopje
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:Iron ore

Project Details and Actors

Project details:

Makstil ended 2013 with a net profit of $68,100. The volume of finished goods production fell 30% to 154,282 tonnes.

The company targets are production of 120,000 tonnes of semi-finished casting products (slabs) and 180,000 tonnes of hot-rolled finished products (heavy plates) in 2014.

Project area:185,400
Level of Investment:24,800,000 (dust collection system)
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:668,511
Start of the conflict:2008
End of the conflict:01/11/2014
Company names or state enterprises:Makstil AD Skopje (Makstil) from Macedonia, FYR - Owner of the plant
Duferco Group from United States of America
STG (Tecoaer) (STG) from Italy - Building of a gas filtration system in Makstil
Relevant government actors:The Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning of Macedonia; The State Inspectorate for Environment, Macedonia
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:NGO Ekosvest:; The Macedonian Green Party

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution
Health ImpactsVisible: Other environmental related diseases
Other Health impactsRespiratory diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Other socio-economic impacts
Other socio-economic impactsReduced air quality


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Application of existing regulations
Fine and penalties; Filters installed
Development of alternatives:The company representatives said that in the last two to three years Makstil factory has been working with 30% of its capacity with aim to reduce air pollution.
Green Party and citizens demanded no more penalties but rather introduction of filters following the environmental standards prescribed by the European Union. They also asked for closure of the factory until the necessary environmental improvements have been met.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The factory has installed filters.

Sources and Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict


Law on Ambient Air Quality

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites


Maksteel will meet the requirements for the A integrated environmental permit according the schedule


Links on protests in macedonian

INTERVIEW - Macedonia's Makstil eyes profit in 2014, to invest 10 mln euro in new equipment

Maksteel will meet the requirements for the A integrated environmental permit according the schedule

Companies must invest in environment

New filtration system to reduce Maksil's pollution

Links to "Lungs funeral" performance

Макстил за три месеци оствари добивка од 2,1 милиони денари

Makstil Duferco

Makstil completes ecopermit commitments

Jugohrom Makstil to stop operations until meeting environmental standards

Makstil ceases operations to install filtration system

Makstil steel mill to resume more environmentally friendly production by mid January

Makstil to Meet Requirements for "A" Integrated Environmental Permit

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Zagaduvanje od Zelezara Skopje

Загадување Железара Скопје

„Макстил" престанува со работа!

Анкета за Железара

Макстил испушта околу 8 000 тони прашинa

Железара закана за Скопје - Zelezara zakana za Skopje 2012

Протест Железара (изјави на граѓани)

Протест Железара инсерти

Протест Железара инсерти
Zelezara - enormno ispustanje cad i gasovi

Other documents

Protests against Makstil- Skopje’s Chernobyl The sign reads “We want clean air”

Pollution from Makstil Cloud of smoke and dust from Makstil threatening Skoplje

Protests against Makstil The sign reads “Stop the pollution from the steel factory"

Meta information

Contributor:Jovanka Spiric, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)
Last update18/05/2016



Protests against Makstil- Skopje’s Chernobyl

The sign reads “We want clean air”

Pollution from Makstil

Cloud of smoke and dust from Makstil threatening Skoplje

Protests against Makstil

The sign reads “Stop the pollution from the steel factory"