INTERVIEW WITH STJEPAN ŠIMIĆ
15 January 2021
I would like to thank you for your time and for speaking for the fourth edition of our Eastern Mining newsletter about your experience and employment, which is part of the "Living history project". First of all, could you tell us a little more about yourself?
My name is Stjepan Šimić - Pepi, born in Vareš in 1967. I am currently working as a project manager at the Vareš Cultural Center and I am the organizer of the Art Colony in Borovica.
What was your first job?
My first job was in mining. Namely, after graduating from the Mining High School in Vareš, I acquired the title of mining technician and applied for a job in the lead, zinc and barite mine Energoinvest. After three months of trial work in various positions, I got a job at the swedish machine Carier where I did X-ray sampling, data processing and chemical analysis from the flotation production process. I worked at Energoinvest for two and a half years until the company stopped working.
How many people were employed in your employment sector?
There were five of us, and in addition, other employees came to our sector to take samples for processing in the laboratory. There were not many of us, but we had a very nice environment and cooperation with all employees - we were a really good team.
Did any of your family members or relatives work in the mine?
No, none of my family was employed by Energoinvest, but since my origin is from Borovica, I come from a mining family - my grandfather, uncle and father were miners.
At the time when you had worked at the Lead, Zinc and Barite Mine, were there any employed women?
There were many women employed in the mine. The education followed the occupations that women can perform, and most of them were mineral breeders from Vareš. Furthermore, women graduated at grammar school or at economics high school worked in offices. There were mining and chemical engineers, too.
What did you like most about your job and why did you like working?
Working in Energoinvest was interesting, and what I liked the most was the cooperation with colleagues and the positive energy in the company. When you have this combination at work, then nothing is difficult and even when there were financial difficulties, it means a lot when you have people with whom you are happy to perform work tasks.
When you look at life then and now, in the area of the municipality of Vareš, can you make a comparison?
I can't make a comparison at the moment, but with the activities of Eastern Mining and the return of mining to this area, I think that Vareš could return among the top five municipalities in BiH in terms of development level.
How did Vareš look like at the peak of its power at a time when the lead, zinc and barite mine was operating?
Vareš looked indescribable then, I would say great. We had strong institutions, then the mine, the ironworks, which employed the majority of the population and which provided the entire social community with what it needed from its income. We have been advanced in the segment of culture, sports, art and in the social protection sector as well. Every evening the streets were full of walkers, restaurants full of guests. “Radnički Culture centre” and “Partizan” were places where young and old gathered, we had various sections of music, drama, art and folklore.
When the mine and the ironworks were operating, was sufficient attention paid to environmental protection and compliance with the laws of the area at the time?
I am not familiar with those laws, but looking subjectively, I don't think so, it was important to produce and place where you need and what you need. We remember the heavily polluted Vareš Majdan due to the Blast Furnace, old technology, the snow in Vareš Majdan was black from soot, blast furnaces, railways, etc. There were those "Mornings in the fog" as from the song of Idol’s, so we know from these pictures that there was no developed awareness of environmental standards that certainly existed, but what I would like to point out is that your company and everyone else who works first pays attention to environmental protection and water protection.
You said that you are currently working as a project manager at the Cultural Center in Vareš and that you are the organizer of the Art Colony in Borovica, can you tell us a bit more about that?
My art world starts somewhere after finishing high school when I often drew and painted. I was a member of the art course where I was introduced to various materials. Art has become my love. While living abroad, I organized solo and group exhibitions. After returning to Vareš, I got a job at the Cultural Center, and the Art Colony project started even earlier when I decided that I wanted to create in my country and in my Vareš.
The Art Colony is a project that has been very well received by both the profession and colleagues, and in a few years we are recognized as one of the leading colonies in this area. We are also recognized as a project of importance for B&H and FB&H because we gather international artists so that artists from Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Serbia, Macedonia, BiH came and visited Borovica and I always try to get our people from Vareš be involved in those actions. This year, unfortunately, due to these conditions as they are, we could not host anyone.
Do you have any message for youth who are just starting to build their careers?
Mining is a difficult craft, that school has not existed in Vareš for a long time, so I think that some retraining should be enabled for young people, which could be part of the program of the cultural center, because in that way young people would have the opportunity to stay in their city. We are all familiar with the trend of migration, especially of young people, out of need, out of adventurous endeavors, and with a stable financial situation and the opportunity to work and improve in their city, they will not need to leave.
Thank you for your time with the hope that this cooperation will continue and improve!
Thank you. I am glad that this Project is happening in our Vareš and that we will continue to have a good and successful cooperation as before. Although much is expected of you, I think that even at this stage of the research you have given enough and had a sensibility for socially responsible business.