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Serbia

Legislation

  • Law on Mining and Geological Explorations 2015 (consolidated 2021)
  • Law on Environmental Impact Assessment 2004

Regulatory Risk Rating

Substantial
Regulatory Risk

Regulatory Corruption Risk

Very High
Regulatory Corruption Risk

Corruption Exposure Risk

Moderate
Corruption Exposure Risk
Regulatory Risk Rating Factors Risk Level
First Come / First Serve Subscribe
Application Criteria Subscribe
Duration Subscribe
Right to Renew Subscribe
Competing Licences Subscribe
Mineral Coverage Subscribe
Right to Mine Subscribe
Criteria for Mining Rights Subscribe
Tenure Subscribe
Surface Rights Subscribe
Government Take Subscribe
Transfer Rights Subscribe
Change of Control Subscribe
EIA Process Subscribe
Power to Revoke Subscribe
Age of Legislation Subscribe
Other Factors Subscribe

The 2021 amendments to the Law on Mining and Geological Exploration marked a step in the right direction for Serbia’s regulation of the industry - offering clear guarantees designed to attract foreign investment. However, these changes are not found to be significant enough to have triggered a complete turnaround in terms of the country’s legal risk profile. Though we find no instances of fatal flaws in the legal framework, the licensing process remains convoluted, inefficient and burdensome. The constant attempt to indirectly ensure Serbian employment is achieved by mandating to the most minute detail the qualifications of persons conducting mining activities is tiresome and likely to cause delays in project progression. In the meantime, more fundamental issues, such as surface access and decision-making criteria lack clarity. All that being said, the law provides a route from exploration to project development – it may be long, winding and unnecessarily complicated, but with some effort, those determined to navigate it will likely make it to their destination in the end.

Contents

Legislation

  • Law on Mining and Geological Explorations 2015 (consolidated 2021)
  • Law on Environmental Impact Assessment 2004

Regulatory Risk Rating

Substantial
Regulatory Risk

Regulatory Corruption Risk

Very High
Regulatory Corruption Risk

Corruption Exposure Risk

Moderate
Corruption Exposure Risk
Regulatory Risk Rating Factors Risk Level
First Come / First Serve Subscribe
Application Criteria Subscribe
Duration Subscribe
Right to Renew Subscribe
Competing Licences Subscribe
Mineral Coverage Subscribe
Right to Mine Subscribe
Criteria for Mining Rights Subscribe
Tenure Subscribe
Surface Rights Subscribe
Government Take Subscribe
Transfer Rights Subscribe
Change of Control Subscribe
EIA Process Subscribe
Power to Revoke Subscribe
Age of Legislation Subscribe
Other Factors Subscribe

Overview

Serbia was formally a part of Yugoslavia and only officially became the Republic of Serbia in 2006 when Montenegro seceded from the union. The country applied to join the EU in 2009, though negotiations to do so are on-going some 12 years later, with little meaningful and active progress being made in recent years. From the EU perspective, this is often attributed to a lack of improvement in democratic processes and disagreements over Kosovo. On the Serbian side, the desire to join the EU appears to have waned, with political shifts moving the country away from the principles and values the EU encourages it to pursue. A trade agreement between the country and the EU does allow for exports without fees and custom duties, though quotas apply to a handful of products. Serbia has an upper-middle income economy. The economy is largely built on various service industries, as well as agriculture, energy and mining. Machinery, motor vehicles and plastics are amongst Serbia’s main exports.

Serbia has a long history of mining, with mining activities known to date back to Roman times. Whilst the Yugoslav wars and the subsequent political upheaval ensured that very little mining was carried out in Serbia for many years, the mining industry has developed considerably in recent times. The country is recognised as having vast mineral wealth, with known deposits of minerals such as copper, gold, lead, silver and zinc and large quantities of industrial minerals. Numerous international mining companies have considered opportunities in the country, with a number of active exploration projects on-going. In 2021, Rio Tinto announced that it would commit $2.4 billion USD to its lithium project in the north-west of the country. The project has experienced considerable issues with community objections, which remain a major hurdle to success.

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