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MINING AT GACKO OPENCAST MINE, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA : A QUESTION OF ECONOMICS
Gacko opencast mine is situated in the northeast of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the Republic of Srpska. The lignite is of Tertiary Neogene age and is preserved in an elongate NW-SE trending synclinal basin surrounded by limestone of Cretaceous age. The basin is fault bounded, with the northeastern limb of the syncline containing the bulk of the lignite reserves. Mining the lignite has proved difficult in terms of equipment performance and in maintaining quality consistency in the coal product. The lignite is for sole use in the neighbouring 300MW Gacko Power Plant, and the required annual production is 1.8Mtpa. Geological complications such as hard cemented overburden and limestone interbeds within the principal coal section have hindered mining and caused extensive wear on equipment. For a number of years financial constraints have meant that the mine has been under capitalised with poor maintenance and few spare parts. In order to re-vitalize the mine and to guarantee supplies of acceptable quality lignite to the Power Plant for 20 years, the method of mining has been reviewed and a new reserve area targeted for future exploitation.
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