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Lead smelter in Zajača, Serbia

The pollution from mine and smelter Zajača have been reduced because the owner went bankrupt. The historical dump site should be remediated by the government. Local people still have health problems after nine years of pollution.


The mines of Zajača are located in western Serbia near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and have been an essential source of Serbian Antimony production ever since 1890. The factory is situated in Zajača village (700 inhabitants) just 100-700m away from houses and the village primary school. Most citizens of Zajača are employed at the mine. In 2006 the mines and a smelting factory were privatized by the Serbian company Farmakom mb that focused its work on recycling and refining old lead. Between 2006 and 2011, the annual production of Zajača has increased from 4,000 tonnes to 26,000 tonnes of crude lead. In 2007, Farmakom mb installed air filters; however the environmental inspection closed the factory two times in 2007 and 2008 because of air filter failure. The factory emits air with high lead concentrations, which has lead to lawsuits in which the judge made the factory pay a monetary fine. Besides, the company has a historical dump site of antimony production, and a new dump site from lead refining, that are as well sources of pollution to village Zajača. Zajača citizens claimed that the manufacturing endangers their health. In the summer of 2011, n a citizens' request , laboratories in Serbia and Brussels did a medical investigation to measure lead concentration in children's blood, which showed an excess of lead concentration of 50-150% of the maximum allowed concentration.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Lead smelter in Zajača, Serbia
Location of conflict:Zajača
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Metal refineries
Manufacturing activities
Specific commodities:Lead
Recycled Metals
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The historical dump site of antimony production is 1,5 hectares large and stores 600,000 tonnes of antimony slag.

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Project area:1,230
Level of Investment for the conflictive project1,800,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:700
Start of the conflict:2007
Company names or state enterprises:Farmakom mb from Serbia - Owner of Zajača factory
Relevant government actors:The Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of Republic of Serbia; The Ministry of Health of Republic of Serbia; Municipal government of Loznica
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Vojvodjanska zelena inicijativa,
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Industrial workers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Street protest/marches
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsLead poisoning. Concentrations of 40 milligrams of lead in one deciliter of blood was detected in kids of Zajača.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Company bankruptcy and mine and smelter closure
Proposal and development of alternatives:The local community asked the company to decrease the annual production of 26,000 tonnes of crude lead, repair the air filters and restore the sites of antimony and lead production dump sites. The factory owner asserted that the main problem was the historical pollution and pointed out that its main activity was recycling.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:No agreement on changing the production technology or decreasing the production levels was made. The company went bankrupt and the mine and smelter were closed resulting in reduced pollution. Even though the government announced the remediation of the historical antimony dump site from the smelter Zajača for March 2014, the works did not start until March 2016. Local people are not convinced that this will really be accomplished.
Sources & Materials

Serbian children exposed to lead
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Saznaćemo čime nas truju samo ako pitamo
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Olovo u krvi je u redu?
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Siva magla u olovnoj dolini
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"Sprečiti zagađenje Zajače olovom"
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Napušteni rudnik za otpad
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Zajača decenijama crna ekološka tačka
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Rudari u Zajači u štrajku već četvrti dan- Moguća radikalizacija protesta
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Ombudsman: U Zajači olovo truje decu
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Svi da adekvatno reaguju u slučaju zagađenja u Zajači!
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Farmakom mb website
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Djeci u Zajači povišen nivo olova u krvi
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"Olovna deca" i dalje ugrožena
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Olovo u krvi dece
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Mihajlović: Iz budžeta 285 miliona dinara za Zajaču
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Rudari Zajače blokirali magistralni put Šabac-Loznica
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Meštani Zajače odustali od najavljene blokade puta ka Loznici
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Prekinut štrajk rudara u Zajači
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Loznica: Selo truju i glasine
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Rezultati analize krvi dece iz Zajače
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Život pored topionice olova
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Zajača: Nepoverljivi prema rezultatima analiza krvi
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Protest radnika Rudnika i topionice Zajača ispred vlade
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Rudari iz Zajače ponovo blokirali put
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Loznica: Rudari na barikadama počeli štrajk glađu
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Radnici "Zajače" prekinuli blokadu
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Reducing Environment & Security Risks from Mining in South Eastern Europe
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Bogićević: Farmakom ne truje olovom
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Bagerima protiv jalovišta, za rudnik Stolice se čeka rešenje
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Rudnici i topionica "Zajača" zvanično u stečaju
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Pravosnažna optužnica protiv Bogićevića, uskoro suđenje
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"Farmakom" ponovo prodaje "Rudnik i topionicu ad Zajača" - Početna cena ostala 200 miliona dinara
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NAJZAD BEZ OTROVA: Počeli radovi na sanaciji jalovine iz rudnika Zajača
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Депонија јаловине из рудника Зајача биће затворена
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Kod polovine testiranih ljudi iz Zajače u krvi manje olova
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Zajača, teški metali i bakterije u vodi
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Bogićeviću oduzeli rudnik "Zajača" - Poreska uprava rešila da naplati dugove vlasniku kompanije "Farmakom"
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Zajača se snabdeva vodom iz cisterni i čeka izgradnju gradskog vodovoda
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Olovo u krvi djece iz Zajače, AlJazeera
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Povišen nivo olova kod djece u selu Zajača, AlJazeera
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Documentary by Vojvodjanska zelena inicijativa
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Saša Janković o trovanju olovom u Srbiji, AlJazeera
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S06 E07 Zajača - Kad mi tamo a ono međutim, 2015.
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зајача 2.03.2014 Дали је ово политички или неко штити богићевића Други део
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зајача 2.03.2014 Дали је ово политички или неко штити богићевића Први део
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Meta information
Contributor:Jovanka Spiric, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1321
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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