PRISTINA (Serbia and Montenegro), May 12 (SeeNews) - The UN-run southern Serbian province of Kosovo said on Thursday it plans to restructure indebted Trepca lead and zinc mining and smelting group through a spin-off to avert the company's bankruptcy.
"The proposed spin-off will be subject to approval by the government in the next two weeks," Kosovo government spokesman Daut Dauti told SeeNews.
Spin-offs have been used by the Kosovo privatisation authority to clear the debts of state-owned companies ahead of privatisation.
The details of the spin-off are yet to be discussed, Dauti added.
He also said that several international companies have already shown interest in the lead and zinc mines but declined to name them.
"The restructuring of the mines comes as a result of their very bad condition. Their debts are estimated at 200 million euro ($255.37 million) and their production last year was at its lowest level for the last two decades," Dauti added.
The restructuring plan drafted by the ministry of energy and mines calls for the government to task a team of local experts to evaluate the current state of the mines and then hire an international team to assess the Trepca group.
Kosovska Mitrovica-based Trepca mineral wealth is seen as key to Kosovo's future economic prosperity.
It has 14 mines yielding lead, zinc, gold and silver, nine flotation plants, two metallurgy plants and 14 factories, all in a very poor condition. In the past 20 years no exploration works have been made in the mines.
During the 1980s, the group employed 20,000 and accounted for 70% of all former Yugoslavia's mineral wealth. Kosovo is considered one of the regions in Europe that have the biggest deposits of lignite, lead, zinc, gold, silver and oil .