Lignite is of extraordinary importance for Kosovo. It contributes with 97% of total electricity generation, while the rest of production is about 3%, based on hydropower plants. With 12.44 Mt, Kosovo possesses the world’s fifth-largest proven reserves of lignite. In the territory of Kosovo, lignite deposits are located in the basins of Kosovo, Dukagjini and Drenica, while the exploitation has been limited to the basin of Kosovo. The first systematic records of lignite exploitation date from 1922, when small-scale, shallow underground room-and-pillar mining commenced in the Kosovo Basin. Large-scale minning of lignite began with the first production from the Mirash (1958) and Bardh (1969) open-pit mines, using bucketwheel excavators.
Expressed in the cumulative figures lignite exploitation from the beginning of the mine in 1922 to the end of 2004 has reached 265 million tons. From the geological point of view, Kosovo’s mining lignite is one of the most favorable lignite deposits in Europe. The average stripping ratio is 1.7m3 of waste to one tonne of coal and the total estimated economically exploitable resource represents one of the richest in Europe, which would provide electricity generation for the next decades.
The lignite is of high quality for the generation of electricity and compares well with the lignite resources of neighbouring countries on a range of parameters. The net calorific value of Kosovo lignite varies in value (NVK) from 6.28 to 9.21MJ/kg, on average 7.8MJ/kg. The lignite (Pliocene age) thickness can be up to 100m, while the average thickness about 40m,
and the mean coverage ratio in relation to lignite is 1.7:1. This ratio implies that lignite-derived electricity costs are the lowest in the region. The cost in Kosovo is € 0.62/GJ compared to Bulgaria with € 0.88/GJ and € 1.34/GJ in Serbia and Montenegro.
Further mid-term development of lignite exploitation will continue in the Sibovc mining field in the northern part of Kosovo Basin by giving a great priority to private investment.
In the territory that Kosovo today extends, mining activities and metal exploitation has been the main economic support ever since the pre-Roman times. Illyrians, Romans, Byzantines, Saxons, Turks, French and British have all conducted extensive mining work in the region. These activities were developed in nine mines, five of which comprise today’s Trepça complex.
Modern mining began in the 1930s, when the British company Selection Trust Ltd revamped the Trepca Complex, including the development of a battery factory that utilised the lead. Active mining of the five mines ceased during the NATO bombing campaign. The locations of the Trepca mines define the Trepca Mineral Belt. There are three NNW-SSE trending zones of mineralisation within this belt that hosts the ore deposits.
First (I) zone includes the Artana (Novo Brdo) mine and follows the boundary between the Vardar Zone and the Kosovo sector of Dardana massif (Serbo-Macedonian Massif), which is characterised by extensive Neogene calc-alkaline volcanics and intrusives.
Second (II) zone II includes the Belo Brdo, Stan Terg and Hajvalia mines. This zone follows the major fault that marks the eastern margin of the Miocene Pristina basin, and its extension to the NNW and the intrusive and volcanic complexes in northern Kosovo.
Third (III) zone includes the Crnac mine, and hosts a number of lead-zinc deposits along the western border of the Vardar Zone, where it is in contact with the Dinaride Drina-Ivanjica (Drenica) structural block.
Current estimates for combined mineable reserves for the five mines have been undertaken, but all of the deposits are open at depth and their strike lengths are uncertain, owing to a lack of systematic exploration and definition drilling.
During the lead-zinc-silver exploitation at Farbani Potok (Artana-Novo Brdo), about 3Mt of high-grade halloysite (Al2Si2O5(OH)4) was discovered. This is only one of five known exploitable deposits of this very high-value (US$140-450/t) clay, the other four being in New Zealand, Turkey, China and Utah, US. Current world production is estimated at 150,000 t/y.
Nickel and Cobalt occurrences do appear in the centre of Kosovo. Both elements occur together and should be described combined. Nickel and Cobalt are located in the near of Glavica, north of Magurë and in Çikatovë. Further north, near Baks, silicatic nickel ores do occur. The iron deposit of Tërstenik, west of Çikatova, contains a considerable amount of Ni, too. Further occurrences appear together with cobalt and copper near Petkoviç and south of Radoshevc. Theses Ni-occurrences belong to three different genetic ore types: Ni hydrosilicate deposits over Jurassic Ultramafic rocks, Ni-Cr bearing (lateritic) Upper Cretaceous ferricrets (ferricrusts) Tërstenik and Late liquid-magmatic segregation of Ni-Co Fe-Cu-sulphide in ultramafic rocks.
From the economic point of view, the first genetic type of the above-mentioned is the most important type. In Kosovo, two areas with Ni-hydrosilicate deposits have to be pointed out: the Golesh massif hosts some nickel occurrences, which originated from lateritic weathering
of ultrabasic rocks (deposit of Magurë). Nickel bearers are hydro-silicates of magnesium, iron and aluminium. The deposit of Cikatova is bound to the lateritic weathering zone of peridotites and weathered ore material, too. Explorations on Ni in Kosovo began in 1961 in the Golesh massif. Later, in 1967, the deposit in the Drenas area was discovered. An intensive exploration program was carried out (mapping, geophysics, drilling). The exploitation of Ni began in 1982. A plant (Ni-smelter) was built in Drenas (“Ferronikeli”). North of Magurë, in the Golesh massif, an open pit has been developed (deposit “Gllavica”). In the Drenas area, near Çikatova, two open pits have been developed: “Dushkaja” and “Suka”.
A chain of Alpine-type chromite pods in southwestern Kosovo are part of a series of linear deposits that continue into Albania. These pods are small but of high grade and in Albania are known to possess enhanced levels of platinum group metals (PGM).
By the end of World War II until 1956, chrome ore was exploited primarly by the Djakovica mine from “Deva Holding Company” and directly transported to Albania for treatment. When the high-grade ore was depleted, Kosovo began importing 30,000- 50,000 t/y of chromite ore from Albania. This ceased when the plant was closed in 1991. No meaningful exploration for chrome has been undertaken for several decades.
Kosovo’s bauxite deposits are hosted in karst limestone and have been exploited in a series of pits that comprise the Grebnik mine. The host limestone was worked as a construction material and a sizeable stockpile of broken limestone remains on site. Mining began in 1966 and ceased in 1990, owing to the deteriorating political climate in Kosovo. Total production was 2.85 Mt.
The traditional markets for bauxite from Grebnik were Romania, Germany and Russia. The mine had a fines mixing and bagging facility to produce wall plaster; production was 5,000 t/y, for the domestic market, and Montenegro and Macedonia.
Kosovo possesses two magnesite (MgCO3) mines at Golesh and Strezovc. Both were originally worked as quarries and both moved to underground operations prior to their closure in 1999.
Before 1990, the Golesh operation produced 110,000 t of magnesite, 22,000 t of sintered magnesia and 10,000 t of caustic calcined magnesia per annum. Golesh mine is accessed via a shaft, whereas Strezovc is accessed via a horizontal adit in the hillside.
Both mines have recently been put up for privatisation. For further information on the privatisation process, visit: www.pak-ks.org/
Kosovo is rich in high quality construction minerals, such as andesite, basalt, diabas, gabbro, granite, limestone and marble.
Interesting opportunities occur for the production of high quality decorative and natural monument stones.
Large clay deposits are an excellent source for the production of bricks, tiles and other products.