Maritsa Coal Mines

From Global Energy Monitor

The Maritsa mines are surface mines located near Lyubenovo, Stara Zagora Province, Bulgaria.[1]

The mines include three pits - Troyanovo-North Coal Mine, Troyanovo 1 Coal Mine and Troyanovo 3 Coal Mine. The three surface mines account for about 96% of Bulgarian coal production. They are part of the Maritsa Iztok Complex and provide coal to the Maritsa Iztok-1 Power Station, Maritsa Iztok-2 Power Station, Maritsa Iztok-3 Power Station and Brikel power station.[1]


The map below shows the exact locations of the mines in Stara Zagora Province, south-central Bulgaria.

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The mines are owned and operated by Mini Marista Iztok EAD, a subsidiary of Bulgarian Energy Holding which is owned by the Ministry of Energy of Bulgaria. Mini Maritsa Iztok EAD operates under a 35-year concession granted by the Bulgarian government in August 2005.[2]

The Maritsa Iztok Complex consists of three lignite-fired thermal power stations, several mines, enrichment plants, a briquette plant and its own railway system. The development of the thermal power and mining complex at Maritsa Iztok began in 1952, but the lignite deposits used to be known well in the mid-19th century. The Maritsa Iztok mines and power plants are interdependent as the only market for coal is the power plants, while the power plants have no other supplier of coal but the mines.[3] The power plants produce over 40% of electricity in Bulgaria.[4]

The mines have 2096 million tonnes of reserves. The maximum extraction capacity of the mines is 35 million tonnes annually. The coal reserves are expected to be sufficient to service the current usage for a period of between 60 and 70 years.[2]

Collectively, the mines produced 27.1 million tonnes of coal in 2021, up from 20.6 million tonnes in 2020.[4] This represented 96% of total Bulgaria's 2021 coal production, according to Ministry of Energy's 2021 Bulletin.[5] In 2021, 34% of produced coal was delivered to Maritsa Itzok-2 power station, 32% to Maritsa Itzok-3 power station, 24% to Maritsa Iztok-1 power station and 12% to Brikel power station.[4]

Production in 9 months of 2022 was 25.4 million tonnes, including 12.1 million tonnes from Troyanovo 1 Coal Mine, 5.9 million tonnes from Troyanovo-North Coal Mine, and 7.3 million tonnes from Troyanovo-3.[6] According to the business plan for 2022-2026, the company planned to mine 30-31 million tonnes over 2022-2026.[4] However 2022 production rose even further to 34.2 million tonnes in 2022.[7]

In June 2022, the Maritsa East Mines company signed an export contract with Serbian company, Virom Group, which will supply two power plants near Belgrade with 1.75 million tonnes of the Bulgarian coal over the course of a year. It is the first ever export deal for the 70-year-old mining company.[8]

However 2023 coal production of the Maritsa mines has slumped with 9m 2023 production almost half of the 2022 levels. As per company's 3Q reporting, overall coal production of the Maritsa complex was 13.9 Mt.[9] (vs 25.4 Mt in the same period in 2022). Lower overall electricity demand, lower electricity exports and the up-take of renewables in the country contributed to this. The participation of (coal-fired) base plants in the country's energy balance decreased by 26.53% over January-August 2023. [10]


Since 2005, Maritsa mines hold a concession for coal mining on the land of two villages, Beli breg and Troyanovo, and the fronts of the mines have been advancing. There has been no specific information regarding the deadlines for the residents to leave, and the prices offered by the mines for the properties are low. Maritza Mines claims the valuations were made by "independent" appraisers hired by the Mines, though other licensed appraisers gave higher prices to locals. The advancement of the mines affects the properties; houses are cracked and wells are drying up, further reducing the value of the properties. About 20 percent of the hundred houses in Beli Bryag have already been bought, and in Troyanovo, about 60 percent of homes have been purchased, half of which have already been demolished.[11] For almost two decades the development and upkeep of these villages has been stopped - the inevitability of the mine expansion paralyses any improvement work. Construction is forbidden, infrastructure is not maintained. The full expropriation of Beli Bryag was expected by 2023 and for Troyanovo by around 2030. People are waiting for a fair price for their houses and land. But the only possible buyer of the houses in this context is Maritza Iztok Mines, which means the company is setting the rules. The compensation offered does not cover the loss experienced in a way that allows landowners to restart their lives while maintaining their current standard of living.

2017 Resettlement Complaint

Za Zemiata (a Bulgarian environmental organization) has been working closely on the case of Beli Breg with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) team of the Central and Eastern Europe Bankwatch Network. The involvement of the EBRD in the funding of projects by Maritsa East Mines might mean that the company will be forced to adhere to fairer standards.[12] Because the EBRD relocation standards require that displaced people be made better off – not worse – as a result of the move, the villagers of Beli Bryag have turned to the bank’s redress mechanisms to complain about the mining company’s practices. Villagers argue that the amounts offered by the company – as a result of evaluations done by specialists whom the villagers consider subjective, having all worked for Maritsa East in the past – are insufficient for them to buy new homes in the region.[13] Bankwatch Network supported mediation between the mining company and the community of Beli Bryag.[14] If the dispute is not settled in 2019, people’s properties will be expropriated. If they do not receive better compensation than what the company is currently offering, they will be kicked out of their homes; deprived of their livelihoods from vegetable gardens, farm lands and animals; and separated from the community in which they’ve lived their entire lives.[15]

The mediation case that started in 2017 was closed in August 2020.[16] According to EBRD's case report, a total of 19 mediation meetings were held to facilitate communication between the parties. The final report stated that between 2010 (when resettlement began) and July 2020, the greater part of the Beli Bryag community members choose the voluntary benefits program and are resettled (172 out of 212 properties, or 81.13%). However from January 2020 the company initiated the expropriation process for the remaining properties. The report also lists other unresolved issues such, inter alia, (i)the lack of agreement on the methodology for calculating the amounts for damages payable to residents, (ii) the company facing public sector legal restrictions on covering non-material damages (iii) divergent legal interpretation of some of the provisions of the legislation, (iv) the claimants' view that the Environmental and Social Policy of the EBRD is not observed during the resettlement of Beli Bryag.[16]

2021 Resettlement Complaint

In October 2021, six residents of Beli Bryag filed another complaint with the EBRD, providing additional information related to the resettlement, specifically the halting of the process.[17] The progress report published in April 2022 stated that based on the initial analysis, the Independent Project Accountability Mechanism (IPAM) of the EBRD considers that the project MAY have caused, or may be likely to cause, direct or indirect and material harm to the requesters. Further to this, there are indications that the Bank may not have complied with relevant provisions of the Environmental and Social Policy (2008 and 2014) in relation to the allegations raised. Based on this, IPAM recommends proceeding with a Compliance Review.[18] As of February 2023 and November 2023, the Compliance review has not been completed yet.[17]

Mine Details

  • Owner: Mini Maritsa Iztok EAD
  • Parent company: Bulgarian Energy Holding EAD[4]
  • Location: Stara Zagora Province, south-central Bulgaria
  • GPS Coordinates: 42.167000, 26.037577 (exact)
  • Mine Status: Operating
  • Capacity: 35 million tonnes per annum[1]
  • Production: 27.1 million tonnes (2021), 34.2 million tonnes (2022)[7]
  • Total Resource: 4574 million tonnes (2018)[19]
  • Mineable Reserves: 2096 million tonnes[2]
  • Coal Type: Lignite (Thermal)
  • Mine Size: 240 sq. km[2]
  • Mine Type: Surface
  • Start Year: Troyanovo-1 (1961), Troyanovo North (1964), Troynovo-3 (1967)[20]
  • Number of employees: 6732
  • Source of Financing: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development[16]

Articles and resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 EuraCoal, Bulgaria, accessed September 2020
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Coal mining, Bulgarian Energy Holding, accessed October 2019.
  3. Bulgaria Maritsa Iztok Picks Favourite, SeeNews, June 8, 2007.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 "Mini Maritsa-Iztok EAD 2021 Financial Statements" (PDF). 2022. {{cite web}}: External link in |website= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. "БЮЛЕТИН ЗА СЪСТОЯНИЕТО И РАЗВИТИЕТО НА ЕНЕРГЕТИКАТА НА РЕПУБЛИКА БЪЛГАРИЯ ПРЕЗ 2021 Г." (PDF). 2022. {{cite web}}: External link in |website= (help); line feed character in |title= at position 8 (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. "Mini Maritsa Iztok - 9m 2022 Financial Statements" (PDF). October 2022. {{cite web}}: External link in |website= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. 7.0 7.1 "2022 Corporate Presentation (p35)" (PDF). 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. "In Its First Ever Export, Maritsa East Mines to Sell 1.75 Mln T of Coal to Serbia", Bulgarian News Agency, June 26, 2022.
  9. "Mini Maritsa 3Q 2023 financial report" (PDF). October 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. "Electricity Production in Bulgaria Down 22% in 2023". August 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. The eviction of the villages of Beli breg and Troyanovo, Stara Zagora district,, November 26, 2014.
  12. Maritsa Istok mines cause forced evictions in Bulgaria, Just Transition, accessed October 2019.
  13. Bulgarian villagers in chronic limbo over coal mine expansion, Bankwatch Network, May 6, 2019.
  14. Bankwatch in 2018, Bankwatch Network, 2018.
  15. Bulgarian villagers call on the EBRD to ensure fair resettlement by coal company it finances, Bankwatch Network, May 29, 2019.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 "EBRD PROBLEM-SOLVING COMPLETION REPORT – August 2020". August 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Maritsa East Mines - Compliance". 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. "EBRD Compliance Assessment Report". April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. "Coal industry across Europe" (PDF). 2020. {{cite web}}: External link in |website= (help); line feed character in |title= at position 14 (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. "Maritsa Branches". Retrieved February 2023. {{cite web}}: Check date values in: |access-date= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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