The Government of the Republic of North Macedonia has unilaterally terminated the contracts for five concessions in the vicinity of Labunishta village in the Struga area, informed the Economy Minister Kreshnik Bekteshi during today’s press conference.

These concessions were terminated with the aim to protect local population’s health, but also the environment in the region.

“This decision constitutes the promise we gave the citizens of the Labunishta village that the quarries in Labunishta will stop working i.e. that the Ministry of Economy will do all necessary steps in accordance with the legal opportunities to terminate the concession agreements for concessionaires operating in that region. Today, I can announce that the citizens in both of these regions can be at ease” said Bekteshi.

The minister informed that even during the state of emergency, the citizens of Labunishta village continued to submit requests for termination of approved concessions for exploitation of mineral resources in the vicinity of the village at the Ministry of Economy, stressing that the dust produced during the mining, exploitation, separation and transport of the minerals is harming people’s health at the Labunishta village.

Last week, the people of Labunishta threatened to boycott the forthcoming elections if the Government doesn’t solve their longstanding problem with the quarries, some of which are located in a close vicinity of the houses. Last year, they organized several protests against the operations at the quaries, which they blame for the increases of heavy illnesses in the village and the area, and they blocked the local roads and were promised by Bekteshi that the concessions will be terminated and the concessionaires will be offered other locations to compensate them.

In the meantime, part of the concessionaires went away willingly but the environmental association Natura Lab sounded the alram several times that certain quarries still continue with their operations, thus directly harming people’s health.

During today’s press conference, Bekteshi informed that in accordance with the current Law for Mineral resources in case of unilateral termination of the concession agreement for exploitation, the concessionaire has the right to file a request for receiving another concession for exploitation at another location in a period of 60 days starting from the day of agreement’s unilateral termination. If all competent institutions and the municipality where the location is give their approval, the concession will be approved for exploitation.