Illegal Stone Exploitation in Doboj, Residents Defend Their Village

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In October 2023, in the territory of the City of Doboj, specifically in the local community of Upper Rječica (Orline site), the company “Limunkop” Ltd. Doboj began conducting surveys and shortly thereafter commenced stone exploitation at the mentioned site.

Interestingly, up to that point, none of the representatives from the local community were informed or made aware of the start of operations. “Limunkop” Ltd. began daily transporting stone, and according to local residents, the company’s drivers started behaving arrogantly and recklessly, which made the population feel endangered. This concern was particularly heightened because children from the area walk to the elementary school located about 2 km away from Rječica.

“Parents have started driving them to school out of fear that they might get harmed due to the fast driving of trucks from that company transporting stone. Material damage to households has begun (splashing mud into yards, soiling metal fences of yards, domestic animals are affected) located along the local road where the mentioned traffic is taking place”, stated Darko Petković, one of the residents of Rječica.

Subsequently, residents from other villages near the regional road Maglaj-Doboj, where “Limunkop” trucks pass, also began to protest and express dissatisfaction. Representatives of the Upper Rječica local community sent a letter of complaint to the “Limunkop” company but without any results.

After the situation remained unchanged, a group of dissatisfied residents from the mentioned villages self-organized and decided to hold a peaceful protest to highlight the emerging issues, as no authorities had responded up to that point.

The peaceful protest was scheduled for March 30, 2024, in the village of Trbuk, where the mentioned company has one of its headquarters. Organizers invited the owners of the “Limunkop” company to attend, as well as Integral company, which operates a legal quarry in the area.

Residents also sent a letter to the mayor of Doboj and relevant city officials, inviting them to attend the protest and hear about the issues they are facing. The gathering was registered with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and received approval to be held for one hour.

“Three days before the event, we received information through social media that the Upper Rječica and Trbuk local communities support the protest. However, all of them are activists of the SNSD Doboj political party. This raised suspicion for us, making us wonder if this directive came from Doboj’s political leadership. Is this genuine support or an attempt to sabotage the protest?” explained Petković, adding that the police provided security for the event and members of the SNSD who were invited through these local communities did attend.

At the gathering, residents for the first time asked representatives of the company “Limunkop” if they have a concession for stone exploitation and received a positive answer.

However, the residents persisted and began addressing both “Limunkop” and the Concession Commission of Republika Srpska and the city administration in writing, but received no response.

Afterwards, they decided to approach the relevant institutions through the Citizens’ Association “Kolo” from Upper Rječica and received responses that shocked them!

“Regarding your mentioned letter received by the Concession Commission of RS on April 19, 2024, the Concession Commission of Republika Srpska informs you that upon reviewing the registry of concession contracts and the Commission’s archives, there is no concession contract concluded regarding the mentioned ‘Orline’ deposit by your side, as you have already mentioned seeing in the Concession Contract Registry”, wrote Maja Šuput, President of the Concession Commission.

A similar response was also received from the Ministry of Energy and Mining, where Minister Petar Đokić stated that the company “Limunkop” has not been granted a concession for the exploitation of mineral resources.

“The Ministry of Energy and Mining has approved ‘Limunkop’ Ltd. Doboj, in accordance with the Law on Geological Research, to conduct detailed geological surveys for the technical building stone peridotite at the ‘Ravna kosa’ site in Rječica, City of Doboj. The approved surveys have been completed, and ‘Limunkop’ Ltd. Doboj, in accordance with the Concessions Law, initiated the process for the concession for the exploitation of technical building stone peridotite at the ‘Ravna kosa’ site in Rječica. Currently, procedures prescribed by the Concessions Law are being followed”, Đokić stated.

The most interesting aspect of all is the fact that the Ministry of Energy and Mining of RS, in the concession granting procedure, sought official consent from the local authorities of Doboj. The requested consent was deliberated by the city councillors on June 6, 2024, during a session of the City Assembly.

“The information regarding the submitted initiative for granting a concession for the exploitation of technical building stone serpentinized peridotite at the ‘Ravna kosa’ deposit in Rječica, City of Doboj, did not receive support from the councillors”, reads the official statement.

Residents of Rječica also filed a complaint with the Republic Administration for Inspection Affairs of RS, alleging illegal exploitation of technical building stone in their area over the past few months. They cited that, according to the current Law on Geological Research of RS, the maximum allowable quantity of mineral resources that can be extracted is 200 cubic meters. Contrary to this, and without any exploitation permits, they claim that far more minerals have been extracted from this site in the past six months, indicating illegal exploitation.

Incidentally, the “Limunkop” company is owned by Slađan Davidović and recorded a revenue of 13.6 million BAM last year, with a profit of 5.1 million. Unofficially, speculation in Doboj has long suggested that the former mayor of the city, Obren Petrović, also has a stake in the company. The earnings from illegal stone exploitation at this site are currently unknown.

Although we have sent inquiries to the city administration of Doboj and the “Limunkop” company, we have not received any response from them at the time of publishing this text.