• PLC Interview

  • 9 February 2021

We talked to Mladen Gavran who worked at Energoinvest's mine in the 1980s.

I would like to thank you for your time and for talking to us about your experience and job in mining for the Eastern Mining Blog. This is part of our „Living history project“. Firstly, can you tell us something about yourself?

My name is Mladen Gavran, since the year of 1985. I was formerly employed as Flotation operator in Energoinvest's mine of lead, zinc and barite, until the business closed. That happened in the beginning of the 90's.

What was your first job?

My first work experience ties itself to Energoinvest and the mine of lead, zinc and barite, which I have already mentioned. There I worked as Flotation operator. During that time the role of Flotation operator was considered significant, especially in refining acquired mineral resources, with it also came a great responsibility to develop a successful business.

How many people were employed in the department where you worked?

Our sector consisted of four flotations. I was working in a collective one, whereas the name suggests, collective concentrate was separated, namely lead and zinc from barite. In one shift there were four of us working, our assignments were based on the nature and scope of the work being done. I think there were 200 people that worked in Flotation alone, while the Mine employed around 400 people.

You've mentioned that the mine employed around 400 people, did any of your family members or relatives worked in the mine?

The head engineer in the mine, and later head of flotation was actually my dad, who had previously finished his studies in Belgrade. He was in charge of preparation of mineral resources for processing. I was lucky enough to work and at the same time learn from him about the job which was entrusted to me. I can tell you a fun fact, that even when you dad is your boss at work, you don't get any privileges. Such was the case that every time due to my irresponsibility and missing work, he didn't hesitate to reduce my daily wage as a lesson learned. My excuse then was that I was young, and simply thrilled with the life I was living, which sometimes got a bit carried away.

At the time when you have worked at the Lead, Zinc and Barite Mine, were there any employed women?

Of course, that there were women employed, they were present in almost every part of the company. Especially in management, production, laboratories, commerce and the construction sector.

What did you like most about your job and why did you like working?

After failing a year in college, I was forced to find a job for a living. It was under these circumstances that I have managed to find a job. During that period the demand for a capable workforce of Energoinvest's Production section was rapidly rising, which meant a great chance for me to get a job. However, later I have shared my working environment with some wonderful young people who were also my co-workers. We managed to create a bond between us, which later turned out to be a perfect formula for caring and loving the job we were assigned for, while doing it the best we could. The job was very interesting and challenging as well. It demanded continuous work, dedication, creativity, learning and adopting to the varying „Flotation process“, as I would call it back in the day. I have felt sorry when the Mine closed in a moment when me and my co-workers thought that we were just starting to get better at doing our jobs.

When you look at life then and now, in the Municipality of Vares, can you make a comparison?

The best way for me to paint a picture for you about the way life looked during those times compared to what it is today, would be through example of Vares bus station, which is found close to the town's market. When Enorgoinvest Mine was working in full capacity that station was crowded with people going to their daily jobs, while today such sighting is almost unimaginable. Back then Vareš had many more residents, most of them were employed and Vareš was financially secure, through the economy that was growing.

How was Vares at the peak of its power at the time when the lead, zinc and barite Mine was operating?

Vares began to flourish, resulting in a chain reaction that brought growing companies, services and employment for people. It seemed that the Vares economy was booming then.

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 don't think that was ideal then or that there were the proper levels of attention paid to protecting the environment, although laws where generally respected. For example, the river Stavnja which flows through our city was muddy due to the Ironworks.

Do you have any message for youth who are just starting to build their careers?

My general opinion reflects the message that I want to give to the youth here in Vares. If your company delivers what is expected, the youth here do have the chance to search for employment, and having that in mind I highly recommend that they should stay in the area. They should pursue their careers here, especially because people from Vares can achieve a lot through mining, which is a long-lasting tradition here.

Thank you for your time with the hope that this cooperation will continue and improve?

Thank you for choosing me for your interview. It was an honour to share my experiences from the past time and I hope that I was able to tell you an interesting story.