The slag from the former smelting plant in Veles is being exported to Turkey, and by the end of this year, it will be exported to Albania as well. At the moment, concessionaire “Keps Mount Group” is negotiating with a company in Turkey to accept larger quantities of the technogenic mineral raw material. The company stated that every day, the slag is separated and is uploaded on trucks and that there aren’t any delays in its exporting.
The concessionaire was granted a B-integrated environmental permit from the municipality of Veles in October 2019 for exports in a period of 7 years. The removal of the slag started a year ago, and so far, apart from Turkey, minor quantities were exported to Serbia and Kosovo.
“At the moment, we are working on the details of the contract with a partner from Turkey, and we are hoping it will be signed soon and as a result, the exporting will intensify. Also, we are expecting a partner from Albania to start to purchase after all construction works are finished on a new smelting plant in Albania, which will process the raw material,”, Keps Mont Group said.
The slag with heavy metals is estimated to weigh 1.8 million tons and the black hill, a result of the plant’s three decades of working is 200 to 250 m high and 22m deep. It is estimated that it contains 6 to 10% zinc, between 2.2 and 3.4% lead and 25% iron oxide that can be used as secondary raw material.
The landfill is located at the Bash Kolibi area near the city of Veles and is close to the city and the other populated areas and their fields and gardens, which makes this location one of the historically biggest environmental hotspots in the country. Other dangerous metals can be found here, like cadmium, copper, arsenic, indium, thallium, etc which pose a constant threat to people’s health and the living environment.
With the measurings conducted in 2018 and 2019, as part of a project by the civil organizations from Veles, the presence of heavy metals in the Veles soil was estimated as high as 30 times more than the maximum allowed limits.
The activists warn that the soil is polluted in a radius of 20 km and there are fields with vegetables and vineyards that are located in the proximity of the slag deposits.
The examination of the soil indicates that the vegetables grown in Veles contains 1.5 times concentrations of lead above the limit and 2,5 times higher concentration of cadmium.
The highest concentrations of heavy metals were detected among the leafy vegetables, while the levels among peppers and tomatoes were lower. In apples and grapes, due to their roots, limits of the concentration limits are at their permissible values. From these reasons, the people of Veles have been waiting for 4 decades for the black hill to be cleansed. The last effort will be a complete remediation of the soil, when not only the location of the slag deposits will be remediated, but also the surrounding area in a radius of several kilometers.