ECONOMY

Bosnia mine to unblock shipments of alumina

BANJA LUKA – The management of a Bosnian bauxite mine agreed yesterday to lift a blockade of alumina shipments from the country’s sole alumina plant, Birac, after reaching a solution on outstanding debt. Boksit Milici miners blocked an industrial railway track in eastern Bosnia last Friday to stop alumina shipments to the Croatian port of Ploce, protesting what they said was an 11 million Bosnian marka (-5.8 million) debt by Birac. «I will immediately recall the miners,» Boksit managing board head Radovan Viskovic told a news conference after meeting with officials from Birac and its partner company Balkal in Banja Luka. Birac, majority owned by Lithuania’s Ukio Bank Investment Group, has denied that it owed anything to Boksit. It said that the mine needed to resolve the debt issue with its trader Balkal, which buys bauxite from the mine and sells it to Birac. Birac then sells its produced alumina to Balkal, which sells it to buyers across the world. The three companies agreed on the settlement of the debt with assistance of the government of Bosnia’s Serb Republic, where they are all located. Balkal accepted to pay 3.1 million marka but requested that a specially set commission decide if it needed to pay the remaining 7.9 million marka, saying that Boksit has violated their contract, supplying them with poor-quality bauxite. Birac’s General Manager Alnija Brusokiene said the company wanted to invest in exploration of new bauxite strips at the Milici Mine. She explained that Birac planned to build a -300 million aluminium plant in Bosnia to secure refining of its product following the fall of alumina prices on the world market. Birac is also interested in the privatization of the country’s sole aluminium plant Aluminij Mostar, based in the Muslim-Croat federation, which, together with the Serb Republic, makes up Bosnia, Brusokiene told reporters.