Relatively rich mineral resources don’t have the anticipated economic importance, which is a consequence of economic crisis and strategic orientation of the State.
Mining and geological activities are defined by the Mineral Resources Management Strategy in the Republic of Serbia by 2030, as primary activities in the mineral resources sector. Secondarily, there is almost no economic activity which does not make a part of that sector. However, although Serbia is relatively rich with mineral resources, minerals and mining sector do not have the economic significance as they ought to have. Production of solid, liquid and gaseous mineral resources is in a little more favorable position. Generally, bad position of the mining sector, and consequently the entire economy, is not just a consequence of the economic crisis, but rather the strategic orientations of the country.
It is estimated that about 2 % of gross domestic product of Serbia belongs to the mining sector. According to the structure, the share of about 90% in the estimated 2 % of the gross domestic product includes energy mineral raw materials, i.e. coal, oil and natural gas and copper as metallic mineral raw material. The rest includes the production of lead and zinc and non-metallic mineral raw materials, mainly stone aggregate, sand, gravel and raw materials for the cement industry.
The mining sector has to have a much greater share in economic growth, but also the most important role in attracting investments, especially the foreign ones. The comparative advantage of the mining sector regarding the investments is not only in cheap labor, lower taxes and investor stimulations, but in economically profitable mineral deposits.
Serbia has 294 legal entities registered in the field of mining and about 20 persons in the field of geological exploration of mineral resources, which makes 0.4% of registered legal entities which employ 2.2% of the total workforce. Number of employees in the sector of mineral resources (exploration, extraction and processing) of 2010 was approximately 23,500, which is 2.2% of total employment. In large mining companies, which make about 10% of registered businesses, there are about 85% of employees (about 20,000). About 70% of employees work in companies that are public companies or state-owned, and this number of employees in these companies doesn’t reflect the actual need, but the social pressure exerted on the mining sector.
Serbia depends on import. A negative balance is especially visible in fossil energy resources, particularly oil and gas. Analyses must be important elements in planning and undertaking some strategic measures by which the negative trends for oil and gas can be mitigated, for coal completely stopped, and for metallic and non-metallic mineral raw materials changed significantly.
The scope and dynamics of the basic geological research in recent decades have been limited by financial, technical and other resources. Some of the planned phases of the research often have not been carried out at all or have not been carried out completely. Therefore, many mineral areas of Serbia have remained insufficiently researched and tested.