August 23, 2018 / 2:56 PM / a month ago

Bosnian coke maker ordered to halt operations after environmental breaches

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Bosnian authorities ordered the Balkans’ leading metallurgical coke producer to halt operations on Thursday, saying the company had repeatedly breached environmental standards.

FILE PHOTO: A hiker rests on a bench near Prokosko Lake on Vranica mountain during an autumn day near Fojnica, Bosnia and Herzegovina October 12, 2013. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

Global Ispat Koksna Industrija Lukavac (GIKIL), which is majority owned by Dubai-based Global Steel Holdings Ltd (GSH) and linked to India’s wealthy Mittal family, is Bosnia’s fourth biggest exporter and sells to Europe and Asia.

It was given a 30-day deadline to gradually suspend its operations given their complexity.

An inspectorate in Bosnia’s autonomous Bosniak-Croat federation, in a statement, said it had told GIKIL to halt operations in order to prevent major environmental damage.

It accused the company, which has around 1,000 employees in the northern town of Lukavac, of discharging toxic liquid waste into the nearby Spreca river, a tributary of the Sava, which flows through Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia.

GIKIL had also not renewed an environment permit that expired in January last year, despite a series of sanctions imposed on it after more than 20 site inspections, the inspectorate said.

GIKIL could not be immediately reached for comment.

The inspectorate said the regional prosecutor’s office had opened an investigation into whether GIKIL was guilty of negligence, without giving details.

GIKIL can restart operations once it obtains the environmental permit, the inspectorate said.

Indian businessman Pramod Mittal, the brother of steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, is president of GIKIL’s supervisory board and is a former chairman of GSH.

Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Daria Sito-Sucic and Susan Fenton

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