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New Bulgarian Lead Plant to Be Completed by 2013

Date: 16.07.2010

The construction of a new lead plant near the Bulgarian city of Kardzhali will be completed by the end of 2013, the plant owner, Valentin Zahariev, has announced.

The leading Bulgarian non-ferrous metals producer, Lead and Zinc Complex Jsc (LZC), received permission for modernization and expansion of its facilities in October 2009.

The expert council of the Bulgarian Environment Ministry has supported the investment proposition by LZC.

The procedure under the environmental assessment started in 2006. According to Zahariev, the procedure has also suffered intentional delays by the former Environment Minister Dzhevdet Chakarov, who served from 2005 to 2009 from the ministerial quota of the ethnic Turkish party DPS.

The majority owner of the LZC Jsc is Intertrust Holding, which is owned by the Bulgarian millionaire, Valentin Zahariev.

In January 2009, Zahariev said his company would file a suit against the government over the blockage of the LZC investment. He has been quoted by the Dnevnik Daily as saying the reasons for the delay were probably political.

The new plant will have a production capacity of 60 000 tons lead per year and according to Zahariev, the production will be performed under extremely environment-friendly technology.

“The Lead and Zinc Complex is committed to reaching the environmental parameters and to keep its greenhouse gas emissions far below the levels registered in Bulgaria,” said Slaveya Stoyanova, executive director of the complex.

She added that her company is negotiating with several banks the financing of the project. Stoyanova also said that equipment would cost about EUR 6 M and by the final stage of the construction, the investment would reach EUR 40 M.

The complex is also looking for a company to invest in the construction of an installation for producing oxygen. The investor will have the right to use it up to 15 years. So far several companies have shown interest in investing.

In the meantime, the Lead and Zinc Complex has applied with several projects for EU funding. The projects include an expansion of the gas supply system, construction of a micro water-energy plant for providing the plant with industrial water, replacement of oil with two CHPs, which will simultaneously produce electricity and warm the water for the steam-water plant.

The complex has registered a profit in the first quarter of 2010 but expects a slight in profitability in the second one.

The development plan for the new plant is ready but it will change after clarification of the parameters of the main equipment.

So far the new project has adopted investments amounting to BGN 1.5 M for construction works. The construction of the building is expected to begin at the end of October or beginning of November 2010. If there are no technical problems, the equipment should be assembled in February-March 2011.

The first zinc using the new technology will be produced by the fourth quarter of 2011.

The Lead and Zinc Complex in Kardzhali has repeatedly come under criticism for polluting the local environment and the nearby city by releasing in the atmosphere sulfur dioxide levels well above the allowed minimum. The problem was especially acute in the fall of 2009.

After Kardzhali has suffered increased levels of sulfur dioxide pollution, the Lead and Zinc Plant complex has decreased the power of the lead production by 40%. The company has promised to keep the levels of lead and arsenic emissions below the allowed minimum.

In the summer of 2009, the lead and zinc plant was shaken by a strike of its workers who demanded timely payment of their salaries.

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