Bulgarian Energy Minister Vows Steps to Terminate Oranovo Mining Concession

Energy | August 2, 2013, Friday // 14:53|  views

Bulgaria's Economy and Energy Minister Dragomir Stoynev, photo by BGNES

Dragomir Stoynev, Bulgaria's Economy and Energy Minister, has said that the Oranovo mine, where a fatal collapse claimed the lives of four miners, will stop working until its activity becomes legally compliant and the working conditions are safe.

On July 16, a fatal collapse at the mine killed 2 miners (Asen Stoynev, 41, and Hristo Mladenov, 45) and left 2 others (Ivan Lazarov, 35, and Nikolay Mihaylov, 42) trapped 450 meters below the surface underneath an avalanche of mud, rocks and water.

The dead bodies of Lazarov and Mihaylov were discovered Friday morning after an 18-day search.

On Thursday, one miner died inside the mine from a heart attack.

The deadly rockfall on July 16 was the fourth major accident in eight years at the mine.

In his Friday statement in Parliament, Stoynev, as cited by dnevnik.bg, assured that the concession contract would be terminated unless the concessionaire managed to bring the operations of the Oranovo mine in line with the statutory requirements.

Stoynev vowed to take steps to stop the concession contract, stressing that the concessionaire would be required to conduct maintenance activities, to submit a plan proposing measures for removing the irregularities, pay the overdue concession fee of BGN 111.9 thousand plus interest amounting to BGN 6000, or to at least present a repayment schedule, and to fulfill the recommendations of the General Labor Inspectorate.

"This mine will only work if we are certain that it is safe for the people and its operations are in line with the rules," he stated.

He reiterated the stance that the administrative staff had turned a blind eye to the violations committed by the concessionaire.

Stoynev informed that he had received the resignation of the Director of the Natural Resources and Concessions Directorate of the Ministry of Economy and Energy on Friday, adding that a disciplinary committee would hold other officials liable too.

Stoynev said that he would strive to sever the criminal symbiotic relationship between corrupt businesses and the state.

Bulgaria's Economy and Energy Minister assured that all concession contracts in the country would be examined.

He emphasized that business organizations and trade unions were also to be held liable.

Stoynev pointed out that the legal framework in the sector contained loopholes and was characterized by the lack of cooperation between the state structures in charge of oversight at the Ministries of Economy and Energy and Labor and Social Policy.

He informed MPs that a working group consisting of industry experts and researchers had been set up on Wednesday, which was scheduled to prepare an analysis of the regulatory framework within a month and to come up with proposals about changes and innovations.

Stoynev also noted that the government would also think about options for improving the operations of rescue services which were currently underfunded private entities.

He said that the government would grant financial aid to the rescuers who risked their lives, searching for their colleagues trapped 450 meters underground for 18 days.

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Tags: concessionaire, concession, mining industry, Oranovo, Dragomir Stoynev, Economy and Energy Minister, General Labor Inspectorate, safety concerns, trade unions, concession fee


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