(Un)terminated Cooperation with Rio Tinto, Opening of Factories and Tech Centers – 2022 Retrospective, Investments in Industry

Source: eKapija Thursday, 19.01.2023. 14:22
(Photo: Shutterstock/Vladeta Milojevic)
When it comes to investments in industry, the year 2022, just like the year before, was marked by controversies regarding the company Rio Tinto and the excavation of lithium. Even though it seemed that the storm had calmed down, there are still numerous uncertainties and questions about this topic, as proven by the fact that, for the second year in a row, this topic is the most read one on our portal on the list of investments in industry.

Whereas state officials are assuring us that the cooperation with Rio Tinto has been terminated, environmental organizations claim that the project has not been shut down. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that the decision to terminate the cooperation with Rio Tinto had been wrong and that Jadar could have been the most developed area of Serbia.

The year was also marked by the opening of new factories in Belgrade, Sabac, Valjevo, Nova Pazova, in the presence of the highest state officials and ambassadors. Thanks to German, American, Chinese investments, jet engine parts will be repaired, car parts will be produced, electric cars will be developed, and substantial local investments in renewable energy sources have also been announced.

1. Lithium in the Jadar zone

Just like 2021, the year 2022 was marked by the Rio Tinto and Jadar project story. In January, Rio Tinto announced that the Jadar projects was being postponed due to the failure to obtain a permit for the exploitation field. The company stated that it wouldn’t give up on the project, but that the beginning of production was expected in 2027, instead of 2026, as initially planned.

The then minister of mining and energy of Serbia, Zorana Mihajlovic, said that the Jadar project had been stopped at the request of the citizens, that there was no contract-based relation between the state and Rio Tinto, but that the essence was in studies of environmental impact assessment.

The prime minister Ana Brnabic emphasized that the cancelation of the Special-Purpose Spatial Plan had put an end to lithium and boron explorations. However, as Belgrade media report, the truth is that, by terminating the document, Rio Sava Exploration, a daughter company of Rio Tinto, cannot count on the development of the Jadar project near Loznica, but that other companies can.

The president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, also chipped in, saying that the decision to terminate the cooperation with Rio Tinto had been wrong and that Jadar would otherwise have been the most developed part of Serbia.

Despite the assurances that there would be no lithium excavations in Jadar, the Association of Ecology Organizations of Serbia (SEOS) emphasized in August last year that the Rio Tinto website featured “a clear argument in favor of the claim that the Jadar project has not been shut down, and it is certainly not dead, since the company expects it to continue”.

2. Rivian electric car development center in Belgrade

In December, the American manufacturer of electric cars Rivian opened a technological center in Belgrade, where 200 engineers will be employed. The opening of the technological center was attended by the US ambassador to Serbia, Christopher Hill, and the president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, who said that he hoped that the opening of the center was only the beginning and the first stage and that electric vehicles would be produced in Serbia as well.

(Photo: CHUTTERSNAP/Unsplash)
As announced earlier, in Serbia, the company will operate under the name Rivian SE Europe doo Beograd.

3. Film studio Krnjaca

City Media Park doo is planning to build a film studio in Krnjaca, in line with the designed prepared by Architonic. The construction of the film studio complex is planned on the site once belonging the construction company Trudbenik gradnja, now mostly abandoned and neglected, covering an area of 12.91 ha. According to the preliminary design, the plan calls for establishing film studios catering to the needs of the movie industry, with accompanying content in the form of workshops, locker rooms, warehouses, dressing rooms and accommodation for actors.

The film studio will have 12 different movie sets in several halls on approximately 3,500 m2 of usable area.

Film studio (Photo: Architonic)Film studio

4. MTU Aero Engines jet engine parts repair plant in Nova Pazova

The new facility MTU Maintenance Serbia, where jet engine parts will be repaired, opened in October in Nova Pazova. The facility which takes up an area of 39,000 m2 is part of the German company MTU Aero Engines, which is one of the leading producers of jet engines.

The president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, said that the idea had been born six years before and that the state had invested EUR 14.6 million.

As announced, the number of the members of the team will grow in the coming years, and an increase of the number of employees to over 400 is planned at the moment.

The construction of the facility in Nova Pazova began on July 5, 2021. The investment, as the media reported, is worth EUR 100 million.

MTU Maintenance Serbia (Photo: eKapija / Srđana Maričić)MTU Maintenance Serbia

5. Novi Kovin mine

The Provincial Secretariat for Urban Planning and Environmental Protection notified the public in August that the company Energetski Kompleks doo Beograd, as the carrier of the project, had filed the request for deciding on the necessity of the environmental impact assessment for the project of underwater exploitation of coal and overburden in the section of A and B fields of the Kovin site.

This is a project that was announced over a decade ago, and it entails the expansion of the coal excavation site in the municipality of Kovin, where coal has been extracted from the Danube since 1995 using the method of underwater exploitation, which is unique in the world.

Two locations where the exploitation would start immediately have been set – the first location is in the southwest part of field A, in the extension of the existing exploitation field of Rudnik Kovin a.d., and around 2.25 million tons of coal are available in that location, whereas, in the other location, which is in the middle part of field B, where the coal layer is closest to the ground, there is a quantity of 5.5 million tons of coal.

6. Haix footwear industry Vranje

At the end of last year, the president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, announced that, following the closing of the Italian factory Geox and the consequent firing of workers, a German investor would arrive to Vranje, much more solid than Geox, which would employ around 1,000 workers in a year, without disclosing any details about the company or its core activity.

Judging by the billboards that were set up in several locations in Vranje in early 2022, on which the German company Haix invited interested people from Vranje to apply for jobs in footwear manufacture, the media quickly started speculating that this was the German investor that was to arrive to Vranje.

Haix Group specializes in the production of footwear for the military, policy, firefighters and other professions which require wearing a uniform.

7. Robotic hand with touch sensors

HTEC Group and Sigmoid successfully realized the project of the development of the most modern robotic hand with touch-sensors in cooperation with the Faculty of Technical Sciences in Novi Sad and the Faculty of Electronic Engineering in Nis. This project was financed by the Innovation Fund of the Republic of Serbia through the program of cooperation of science and economy.

(Photo: Willyam Bradberry/shutterstock.com)
The robotic hand is designed to be just as movable and flexible as a human hand, with sophisticated catching characteristics, and it is meant for use in automated warehouses and industrial production, as well as for a wide range of applications in repetitive and human-hazardous activities.

8. Minth factory Sabac

Following the sale of 11 hectares of building land in the Northwest Industrial Zone in Sabac in 2021, the Chinese company Minth became the owner of an additional 10 hectares of land in this location, where they plan to open a second factory for the production of car parts in August 2023. As said on the website of the local self-government, EUR 15 million will be invested in the purchase of land and the construction of a new factory. The expected total investment in a period of 10 years is EUR 46 million.

As announced before that, the construction of the Minth factory in Sabac, in the Northwest Industrial Zone, was supposed to be completed in April, when the test production of components for the biggest car manufacturers from all over the world was planned to start.

9. Solar panel factory Velika Plana

The first factory for the production of solar panels in Serbia is to be built in Velika Plana. The investor is the company DoMi Eko – Solar doo Velika Plana for the production of miscellaneous electrical equipment, which is owned by natural persons and the companies Udarnik Gradnja doo from Belgrade and Inzenjering DM Invest doo from Smederevska Palanka, and which was founded in July 2022.

The future complex consists of a production hall and a warehouse and will be located within the business Service-Mixed Zone Velika Plana, near the Belgrade-Nis highway, on an area of 12,601 m2. The production will be done with the help of the production line (conveyor belt), which will dispense 25 solar panels per hour.

10. Bizerba scales Valjevo

In September 2022, it was announced that the completion of the construction works and the beginning of the operations of new factory of the German company Bizerba in Valjevo was planned for the end of the year. Bizerba is one of the world leaders in the technology of the making products for the measuring and slicing of food and one of the leading suppliers of hardware and software solutions used in the technologies of scaling, slicing and labeling.

We presented the ten investments that attracted the most attention from our readers when it comes to industry. Make sure to view the full list HERE.

We are also inviting you to see which investments marked 2022 in the TOURISM, ENTERTAINMENT AND RECREATION segment.

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