Renewables

Toxic tailings dump in North Macedonia to be turned into solar power plant

Toxic tailings dump North Macedonia solar power plant

Photo: Rašo / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode

Published

August 29, 2023

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Published:

August 29, 2023

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The Municipality of Probištip in North Macedonia will seek an investor that would remediate a mining tailings dump and build a solar power plant on the site.

The authorities in Probištip are preparing a plan for the installation of a photovoltaic facility which would at the same time solve a decades-old public health risk. Of note, TAB Mak commissioned a solar power plant late last year on the territory of the industrial town for the needs of its lead battery factory, while Israel-based BIG Shopping Centers and its subsidiary BIG Energia Holdings are developing projects for two such renewable electricity plants.

The next step in the transformation of the local economy and energy system is to rehabilitate the location of the tailings dump which was used by a lead and zinc mine. Probištip is exposed to polluted water from the location, just a couple of hundred meters from the first houses, and also to toxic dust that the wind spreads.

If it doesn’t find an investor that would cover the expenses of the tailings dump remediation, the local authority will turn to the government and foreign funds

The municipal council has initiated a procedure for changing spatial plans. The idea is to protect the population and the environment from heavy metal poisoning by introducing measures like leachate purification. In the second phase, a solar power plant would be placed on several hectares.

The local authority said earlier that, in case it doesn’t find an investor that would cover the remediation at its own expense, it would turn to the state budget and foreign funds. The government made a project design document already in 2010 for the location in the country’s northeast, and several such plans were issued in the meantime.

The people of Probištip are exposed to lead, cadmium, copper and other heavy metals

Probištip remembers the incident from 1976 when tailings burst through the dam and 150,000 cubic meters of polluted water and mud spread into the surrounding water streams. The abandoned dump contains an estimated six million cubic meters of material rich in lead, cadmium, zinc, copper and magnesium. One study also showed high levels of arsenic and nickel in water springs and wells in 29 nearby villages.

The Zletovo mine continued its operations in 2016, after a one-year break due to bankruptcy.

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