Bosnia's Serb Republic parl votes against mine sale to Israeli Investment Group

Bosnia's Serb Republic parl votes against mine sale to Israeli Investment Group Author: Mineco. Licence: All rights reserved.

SARAJEVO (Bosnia and Herzegovina), May 18 (SeeNews) - The parliament of Bosnia's Serb Republic voted on Wednesday not to sell a state-held stake in mining company RZR Ljubija to Israeli Investment Group, after a major sector player, ArcelorMittal, said it would seek international arbitration if the sale goes ahead.

A total of 39 out of the 80 MPs present in the Serb Republic's National Assembly voted in favour of the sale of the iron ore mine, 34 voted against, while seven abstained their vote, a live stream of the parliament session on broadcaster RTRS showed late on Wednesday.

In April, the Serb Republic announced it has accepted an offer from the Israeli Group for the purchase of a 64.9% stake in RZR Ljubija for 92 million marka ($49.9 million/47 million euro). The other bidder in the race was ArcelorMittal Prijedor - a joint venture of ArcelorMittal and RZR Ljubija - which had offered 63.6 million marka for the stake, according to reports in local media.

ArcelorMittal owns a steel plant in Zenica, in the central Bosnia, where it processes iron ore from the Prijedor mine.

Earlier this week, Lakshmi Mittal, CEO of steel maker ArcelorMittal, warned state leaders of Bosnia he will seek international arbitration if the Serb Republic sells its stake in RZR Ljubija to the Israelis. According to ArcelorMittal, if the mine is sold to the Israeli investor, all of its employees in Bosnia will be faced with negative consequences as iron ore supplies may become too costly.  

ArcellorMittal, which directly employs 2,400, with more than 10,000 indirectly dependent on the company for employment through more than 300 local supplier companies, is one of the biggest companies operating in Bosnia.

The Serb Republic is one of two autonomous entities forming Bosnia. The other one is the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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