Great development opportunity: GIKIL may be a strategic actor in coke production

The global steel industry should rebound next year, resulting in increasing demand for coke, and the Lukavac company GIKIL has the capacity to produce it in the regional framework, according to

Bosnia and Herzegovina can benefit from this industry in terms of socioeconomic advancement, but it is unclear how much the state apparatuses would recognise this because, at the moment, only one coke battery is operational in our country, while new ones are being built in Europe.

Global trends indicate that the steel industry has been in a particularly tough position for the past 2.5 years, which has had a negative impact on companies like Global Ispat Koksna Industrija Lukavac (GIKIL), which is primarily based in that economic area.

The Lukavac giant concluded the year with a financial loss, and as a negative consequence, the two-decade strategic partnership with Željezara Smederevo was terminated at the end of 2023. Even still, targeted investments are realized, results are still obtained, and chances for further advancement can undoubtedly be created in a somewhat complex setting.

“The end of cooperation with Željezara Smederevo resulted from the actions of our rivals, namely the Polish company JSW, a much bigger conglomerate than us because it is owned by the state and enjoys a more advantageous position given that they use their own coal to produce coke, whereas we import the special coals we require from America. However, they also managed to take over our long-term contract with Smederevo steel plant, which puts into question GIKIL’s very survival despite our superior metallurgical coke that is unmatched,” GIKIL’s managing director Mr. Almin Suljić states at the beginning of his interview for

In the most recent quarter, GIKIL responded quickly, rerouting a portion of its coke output to customers in Turkey, Algeria, Italy, and Austria and through negotiations it  has only began returning to the Smederevo plant. By year’s end, ten thousand tons of the high-calorie synthetic solid fuel will be shipped to them.

We consider Željezara Smederevo as one of our strategic partners; therefore this is very important to us. We also expect that the industry’s revival would result in increased quantity and more deliveries. Additionally, both countries are interested in the current idea regarding the reconstruction of the railway that connects this region of Bosnia and Herzegovina with Serbia which also gives us hope for a faster and greater turnover of goods with one of our most important partners adds Mr. Suljić.

The company ArcelorMittal in Zenica decided to entirely shut down its production, i.e., to close the coke battery, the capacity of which was used for the needs of its own steel plant. Currently, Bosnia and Herzegovina only depends on GIKIL for coke production.

On the other hand, during the last four years, GIKIL has invested 23 million KM to enhance its coking facility, which has an annual capacity of 600–650 thousand tons of coke, particularly in the area of environmental protection.

Our battery has never been shut down in comparison to the Zenica battery, mainly because of technological processes that are much more intricate. It was new when we commenced it in 2003, and it has around 40 years of service left. “We are attempting to meet the standards of the European Union, i.e., of Bosnia and Herzegovina, based on our maintenance and prior investment, particularly in the context of its safety and ecological acceptability,” Mr. Suljić adds.

Additionally, given that GIKIL and ArcelorMittal are about to sign a deal, some of the exploitation from Lukavac should be transferred to Zenica. That commercial document stated that GIKIL would provide ArcelorMittal with amounts of coke that the Zenica-based company is unable to make any longer, which is approximately 25 thousand tons per month.

This commercial partnership is crucial because it would give GIKIL the kind of business stability that is currently unachievable through short-term contracts with smaller clients. “We have already had discussions, and in this case, it is crucial that the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is aware of all the developments, that they understand the significance of our role, and that, for the first time, they have demonstrated their open concern while also listening to the issues and potential solutions. We are almost done with negotiations with ArcelorMittal to reach a commercial contract, which could be strategically significant for us in the future. It would be crucial that the discussions with the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina end with some form of official support, at least in the context of protecting domestic production,” Mr. Suljić points out.

The so-called “green transition,” which is mostly being discussed in the European context, calls for the development of wind farms and other environmentally friendly energy generating facilities using massive amounts of steel. Currently, coke is used to make up to 70% of steel globally; the remaining portion is made by processing different kinds of waste. The Polish government’s support of JSW in building a new coke battery with the same capacity as ours, to the tune of $27 million, is the clearest indication of the future of metallurgical coke. In terms of money, the global market for metallurgical coke was valued at 194 billion dollars in 2023 and in four years it is expected to grow to 247 billion dollars”, adds Suljić.

Only newly constructed coke batteries, the opening of which has already been announced, will be able to supply the future coke market. Although Bosnia and Herzegovina might have its own opportunities in this area, the absence of a strategy for these kinds of carbon-intensive sectors remains the issue.

It remains to be seen if Bosnia and Herzegovina will acknowledge the significance of coke production for its future economic growth, but given that GIKIL is the only company in the region capable of producing this kind of solid fuel, it is plausible that the company could play a significant strategic role.

Considering that this company has direct business relationships with over 400 different economic entities, its role also has socio-economic relevance.

“Because the transformation in the steel industry is one that is not going to stop and has the potential to replace the traditional method of production in the near future, it is imperative that Bosnia and Herzegovina recognize these trends.” Furthermore, GIKIL is currently Bosnia and Herzegovina’s greatest business challenge, and huge businesses are typically essential to any state’s development. Mr. Suljić highlights that it is crucial that the state continues to support this industry since it has the potential to be very prosperous in the future.

Four years ago, the Lukavac GIKIL experienced zest, and the processes for obtaining water and environmental permits are now complete. The company’s management earlier seized the opportunity to strengthen work in the environmental area and to extend the life of the coke battery when the price of coke was advantageous.

The establishment of a plant for the biological waste water treatment is the most important project, which was completed recently.

Furthermore, GIKIL is nearing the end of projects that would significantly lower air pollution, on top of the dynamic plan’s recommended actions, which are also being actively worked on. It refers to setting up two new devices on Coke battery, two machines that were not in operation—one for smokeless coal loading into furnaces and the other for hooded coke receiving—and aims to enhance technology and production processes while lowering uncontrolled air emissions “continues Mr. Suljić.

He emphasizes that the plant’s capacity to produce maleic anhydride should be increased by the end of the year, as this would have an impact on the profitability of this, another GIKIL product that is very well-known and in high demand.

GIKIL has achieved payment operations totaling six billion KM in the last twenty years. Since all obligations have been satisfied, the state currently has no claims against this company. The aforementioned statistics clearly illustrates the significance of this company, since it directly affects slightly over 400 economic units.

“Despite the extremely challenging circumstances and the previous possibility of a plant shutdown, we can state that we adhere to all the terms of the collective agreement for our workers. Regular salary and other obligation payments are made, and we maintain constant communication with the Union to work toward a cooperative solution to end the severe crisis. Our intention is to restart the negotiations in the following quarter to discuss raising worker status, provided the market permits it, adds Mr. Suljić.

As part of its new course, GIKIL acknowledged the value of the local community and has been active in social responsibility field in recent years. They endeavor to maintain a high-quality communication with the non-governmental sector, working in tandem with them. Through their active collaboration with Tuzla’s Faculty of Technology and Mechanical Engineering, with whom they also have important collaborative projects planned, they are also involved in the educational system.

A new collaboration agreement was signed with the University of Tuzla – Faculty of Technology

We renewed a vital cooperation to bring quality education and economic development together. Therefore a new cooperation agreement was signed with the University of Tuzla – Faculty of Technology.

The partnership is founded on common academic interests in education, research, technology, and social development. The new agreement allows for the active exchange of expertise and knowledge, as well as the implementation of exercises and student internships with the goal of learning practical knowledge for students and adapting to the working environment in the chemical sector.

This allows us to integrate the most recent scientific advances in the fields of chemical engineering, chemical technology, and environmental protection engineering, all of which are vital to our organization, while also providing a great foundation for the selection of our future employees.

New investments in environmental protection at GIKIL: A state-of-the-art facility for wastewater treatment technology was commenced

A new biological wastewater treatment facility from the Coke plant began operations today at Global Ispat Koksna Industrija Lukavac (GIKIL). According to Mr. Almin Suljić, the managing director, this facility is one of the company’s most significant developments in recent years and stands out in the region.

Over the previous two years, we have worked tirelessly on this initiative, investing almost two million convertible marks. This signifies that the plant for treating physical, chemical, and biological wastewater has been properly optimized. In other words, we built a new facility and updated an old one, converting the old biological facility into a new wastewater treatment plant. Mr. Suljić stated that the goal was to assure compliance with the Federal Decree’s limit values, particularly achieving all of them.

The limit values of wastewater emissions released into the environment, as defined by the Regulation on the conditions for the discharge of wastewater into natural recipients and the public sewage system of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, were met using the appropriate incoming water parameters. These include temperature, pH, total nitrogen, phosphorus, and oxygen consumption, both physiologically and chemically, as well as phenols, cyanides, and rhodanides.

Mr. Jasmin Pandurović, a technology engineer at GIKIL with a master’s degree in environmental protection, explains that based on the input parameters, analyses, and required output parameters of the purified water, the most optimal solution was accepted. The technological wastewater is now completely purified and goes into external natural recipients.

The new facility includes a sludge tank and a sludge dehydrator, thus the old technology had to be completely modernized.

Because the new plant includes a sludge tank and sludge dehydrator, the outdated technology needed to be totally updated. We are all aware of the dangers that wastewater from the coking process poses to flora and fauna if released into the environment. As a result, the ammonium sulfate plant treated the fluids to biologically purify them. Until recently, the findings were acquired at the present plant, which was built using outdated German technology. However, due to technological obsolescence and rising water quality standards, this technology needed to be modernized and enhanced. According to Mr. Pandurović, GIKIL successfully addressed the issue through tertiary biological treatment.

Renowned contractor, Borplastika Eko, a member of the BP group, from Tuzla, carried out the project for tertiary purification and optimization of the old, existing plant.

The results of tertiary-level water filtration are much better than the legally required limits for the Sava river basin, according to laboratory examinations conducted by independent certified institutes. As a result, we provided a cutting-edge solution for processing waste water in accordance with the legislation. Following all test phases and studies, we were able to get excellent results, allowing us to say that this is the only plant of its type in the area. This is not the end of our job. According to Mr. Irdin Imamović, director of “Borplastika EKO” d.o.o. Tuzla, “They expressed their willingness to continue testing certain processes and improving technology at GIKIL so that only and maximum purified water goes into external, natural watercourses.”

This year, GIKIL will also make more technological and environmental enhancements at the coke battery, where two new units are being installed. These machines will have the greatest influence on lowering uncontrolled emissions to the atmosphere.

It is a smokeless coal furnace filling equipment that is now undergoing final testing and will be commissioned in the next months. In addition, hooded coke receiving equipment will be installed by the end of the year.

Mr. Almin Suljić, Managing Director of GIKIL: “We cooperate with more than 400 companies; the value of export surpasses 300 million BAM

Around 23 million BAM was contributed in environment protection within the period from 2020 to 2024.

Global Ispat Koksna Industrija Lukavac (GIKIL) was in the last year the biggest importer in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the fourth biggest exporter. The volume of imports of this industrial giant, according to the statement of the Managing Director Mr. Almin Suljić, sums up to approximately 200, and the exports between 300 and 400 million BAM. 

– We mostly import coking coal for the coke production. There are several deposits of such coal in the world, and we import most of it from the United States of America. Coal comes to the port of Ploče by vessels. It is afterwards loaded into wagons and sent to GIKIL by rail. We also export by rail, mostly coke, and last year, 80 percent of the coke ended up in Serbia, specifically the steel plant in Smederevo. We also export by-products, crude tar and benzene, to the Czech Republic and Germany, also by rail. Furthermore, we produce maleic anhydride (AMK), which we export by road transport, mostly to Italy and Turkey. It is a raw material that is widely used in production, as a polymer; it is mixed into paints, varnishes etc. However, without the railway we would not be able to survive. I must point out very good relations with the management of Railways FBiH. Within our company, we have 12-13 rail tracks. We have a railway department consisting of 55 people and three locomotives used for internal transport of raw materials. Only within GIKIL we have about 40 kilometres of rail tracks – says Mr. Suljić for Faktor.

When we know the significance of the railroad for GIKIL and the business volume of our company, the question emerges about the initiative for the reconstruction of the railroad on the Doboj – Tuzla – Zvornik route, which was recently announced by the Minister for Transport and Communications of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Edin Forto, who emphasized Serbia’s great interest in this project worth approximately 500 million euros.

– The reconstruction of the railroad line would mean a lot to us, as there is frequently a bottleneck in logistics and shipping due to transport limitations. The transport would be much quicker, which would enable a greater turnover of goods – says Mr. Suljić.

According to GIKIL’s data, this company with more than 900 employees annually cooperates directly with more than 400 domestic legal entities, i.e. suppliers. Moreover, GIKIL contributes approximately 25 percent within the trade of Željeznice FBiH, per annum, a turnover worth almost 23.5 million BAM, and this fact indicates the significance of restructuring of the railroad and in general road infrastructure in BiH. 

We are a strategic company, both for the Tuzla Canton and the whole country. Regardless of our business results: profit or loss, many companies are connected with us. We are vital for the whole economy and economics. We participate with 1.5 percent within the GDP of the whole country and approximately 14.6 percent of the trade of Tuzla Csnton, and 47 percent of the economy of the Lukavac municipality. This year, economy was influenced by the crisis in the steel industry, i.e. the drop in demand; one of the causes is the Ukrainian war. The cost of steel fell, which influences the coke production. A few steel plants in Europe have ceased production due to exceptionally low demand. We had less demand and this year, unlike the past one, we’ll end with loss. The balance sheet isn’t complete yet, so we don’t know precisely how much it’ll sum up to. Raw materials are not available in BiH, therefore we are huge importers, but also exporters, and our costs, input and yield, are managed by the market – says Mr. Suljić. 

Environmental pollution has continuously been attributed to GIKIL; however the fact is that there has been progress in this field as approximately 23 million BAM was invested in environment protection activities from 2020 to 2024.

– When it comes to GIKIL, one can hear stories about harm to the environment. It is true that some of our equipment is outdated, but coke is produced in this way also in Hungary in Dunaujvaros. The same method is used in Poland. There is a general trend that everything ought to be stopped, since there are no such plants in Europe. This year, the same kind of coking plant is to be opened in Poland, modernized though and with fewer emissions, and that’s only one of the batteries. They got a loan from the state for this project. It isn’t true that this industry is ceasing in Europe. It is continuously imputed to us that the plant should be shut down. In Poland, an EU member and central European country there are batteries that within two months produce the quantity of our annual capacity. – Mr. Suljić pointed out. 

PHOTO/VIDEO The biggest post-war investment: A new reactor has arrived at GIKIL

The implementation of the project of increasing the plant’s production capacity is underway at GIKIL’s Maleic Anhydride (MAP) Plant. Along with the procurement of the reactor, this is the biggest post-war investment, whose construction began in 2021 and full transition to production with the new reactor is planned for 2024. 

Following the latest technologies, with the aim of increasing production capacity, from the current 10,000 tons to 13,000 tons and potentially increasing the annual capacity to 15,000 tons all in order to achieve the best yield and the highest selectivity, reduce the generation of unwanted by-products and make better use of distillation system, GIKIL has chosen a modern single-size reactor of larger dimensions with the highest possible efficiency.

The useful life of the old reactor, which was commissioned in 1984, expired at least 15 years ago. However, until now, there has apparently never been enough will or funds to replace everything and ensure the smooth operation of the plant, which in itself shows how big and important this investment is,” said Almin Suljić, Executive Director for Production at GIKIL.

The first phase, which includes providing the basic engineering for production increase, is now complete. 

“The basic engineering includes the replacement of the reactor, which has not been changed for 40 years, then the replacement of the compressor and the tank for clean AMK as well as the installation of a new tank for crude AMK.

Furthermore, the plan is to replace the following: the salt tank, the gas cooler and aftercooler, the boiler water preheater, the distiller heater and the butane evaporator heater. We are also planning to replace the pumps and the transformer, install an acid cooler and the fourth pastillator, upgrade the automatic control system, and expand the butane storage from 1,000 to 2,000 cubic meters,” explains Ermin Mujkić, Director of Maleic Anhydride Plant.

Along with the project of increasing the plant’s production, also another important project is underway. 

“This refers to the project for the technological wastewater treatment from the production process. As part of the basic engineering, the project includes the separation of the solid part of fumaric acid from technological wastewater and its use for commercial purposes. “The treatment of the collected filtrate is the second phase of the project, and we will deal with it from the end of August,” Mujkić said.

The Maleic Anhydride Plant was commissioned in 1979 with benzene as a raw material, and the entire process was based on the catalytic reaction of benzene oxidation. Starting in 2006, the raw material has been changed to the environmentally friendly n-butane.

IT Equipment Donated to the “Lukavac Grad” Primary School

In order to improve the educational process and provide students with better quality education, our company decided to help another school with IT equipment.

A valuable donation in the form of smart TVs, computers and related equipment was handed over today to the primary school “Lukavac Grad”.

We believe that our donation will make it easier for teachers to deliver educational content, bring knowledge closer to the needs of the digital modern age, and help students more easily visualize and master the educational process. 

Our company previously supported the “Lukavac Grad” school in equipping a multimedia classroom.

Students from Lukavac Combined Secondary School visited GIKIL

Students and professors of Natural Sciences Staff from Lukavac Combined Secondary School visited our company last week to improve and enrich their knowledge of biology and chemistry.

On this occasion, the students were introduced to the production process in the plant and the process of chemical analysis of raw materials and final products. Accompanied by our quality control representatives, the students visited the laboratories for product quality monitoring. In addition to technical presentations, they also had the opportunity to perform specific measurements and analyses themselves.

PHOTO/ Coke Plant in the Eyes of Children: Imagination and creativity through 58 works of art

“Mom at Work/ Dad at Work” is the name of our art competition for employees’ children aged five to twelve.

Sixty works of art were collected by open competition and 58 of them from small participants met the requirements.

Best paintings selected by the judging committee were awarded, and the company also provided special gifts for all other participants.

All works will be exhibited in the “Coke Plant” art gallery in the administration building after completion of the ongoing building transformation and renovation works.

In the meantime, enjoy the digital exhibition below.  

PHOTO/We are starting the New Year with a priority: A satisfied worker, a satisfied parent, a satisfied child

With the awarding of prizes, diplomas, certificates of appreciation and gifts for all participants, our art competition called “Mom at work/Dad at work”, organized for the children of workers, ended successfully.

The large hall of GIKIL, filled to capacity, testified that this is another confirmation of the importance of connecting with employees beyond regular business obligations, especially when it is adorned with sincere children’s smiles.

The way children see and imagine their parents at work in the Coke Plant was illustrated by the works of sixty children, aged five to twelve, giving the committee the most difficult task. 

Electric locomotive operators, machine drivers, engineers of various professions, construction workers, welders, coke battery workers, gasholder operators, locksmiths, control panel operators, employees of the procurement department, human resources, finance department, railway traffic, quality control, firefighters, cooks, medical workers, security and others, are occupations that children have shown through their imagination and creativity.

A total of six winners were chosen, in two categories, and in addition to the main prizes and diplomas for first, second and third place, the company also awarded all the other children with special gifts and certificates of appreciation. Through animation and discussion, children also had the opportunity to hear about the workdays of firefighters, nurses, safety engineers, security guards, coke oven supervisors and railway traffic supervisors. 

All works will be exhibited in the company’s art gallery as a memory and reminder of our top priority, which is children’s happiness.

Happy workers, happy parents, happy children.

A new Individual Employee Agreement based on the New Collective Agreement applies at the company

The Company’s Management and the Union today signed a New Collective Agreement with each employee. After successful negotiations and the necessary conditions, the document was officially signed.

In addition to salary increases, new agreements for employees and the Company will bring about improvements in general working conditions and ensure constructive and social dialogue.

The contract was signed for two years.

This further confirms that good cooperation is possible in all areas, especially in relation to workers’ needs and rights. The dialogue continues and we make big plans and accomplish what we set out to do.