The 30 years old zinc and lead smelting factory "Topilnica" (MHK – Zletovo – Veles) in the City of Veles is one of the environmental hot spots in Macedonia due to its historical air and soil pollution. Moreover, the factory is located only 1,5 km from the city center. In 2001 the World Health Organization pinpointed Veles as one of the most polluted towns in the world. The factory production line was closed in 2003 after going bankrupt and under public pressure following a large women's march on 8th of March 2003. The remaining slag was disposed on a site close to the smelter.
The European Agency for Reconstruction’s study “Development of Remediation Plans with Financial Requirements for Elimination of Industrial Hot Spots - Volume Two” from December 2007, indicates existence of 1,8 Mio Mg of zinc and lead at the disposal site that is only partly covered and therefore the source of air emissions and contaminated leakage in the nearby Vardar River. Moreover, lead, zinc and cadmium are found accumulated in the soil of agricultural land and public areas, as well as in the food produced on this soil. Luckily, due to the low mobility of these heavy metals, most of the pollution remained in the soil and has not contaminated groundwater. The same study indicates the necessity of decontamination of the soil of contaminated public “green” areas as well as agriculture land, the re- and/or decommissioning of the existing facility, and the remediation of the existing slag dump site. The Ministry of Environment confirmed these plans and stressed the need of large investments as the main obstacle to their implementation. In 2006 Metrudhem DOOEL Skopje bought Topilnica. The factory’s assembly of creditors accepted Metrudhem’s bid of USD 2,890,000 to restart the smelting plant. Another bid (50 percent higher than Metrudhem’s) was proposed by the Turkish Company Yalim Dis Ticaret to build a shopping center on the same location. However, the Metrudhem proposal was accepted. This ended up in the lawsuit against the state filed on May 30th 2008 by the Municipality of Veles and several environmental NGOs who created a "Green Coalition". The opponents of reopening Topilnica demanded from the state to remove the risk of the occurrence of future and permanent damages pursuant to article 143 Request to eliminate the risk of damage of The Law on Obligations.
On June 10th 2008, local activists, environmentalists, and local self-government organised a big protest in Veles, followed by the second big protest in November 2011 after the court found the state free of charges.
Moreover, in a public survey in 2010 organised by Green Coalition in the city of Veles, 93% of the responded were against the factory reopening.
The local self-government is trying to find solutions to stop the restarting of the facility. One of their activities was deleting the factory from the Detailed Urban Plan of the City of Veles in April 2014. This was legally possible due to the fact that the factory installation has been closed for more than three years. Such decision secured the permanent closure of the smelter. However, the problem with pollution originated from the factory slag disposal site remained. In March 2016, Macedonian company Ekocentar 97 won a 10 years long concession over exploitation of the site -host to 1.7 million tons of slag containing 8% of zinc, 1% percent lead, and some cadmium-.