January 22, 2015 / 7:22 PM / 3 years ago

Kosovo miners end strike, give government more time to decide mines's fate

PRISTINA (Reuters) - Hundreds of miners in Kosovo ended a three-day strike on Thursday in the country's richest mine, which is also claimed by Serbia.

Kosovo's new government said last week it would take control of the Trepca mining complex but backtracked on Monday following a furious response from Serbia.

On Tuesday, some 350 Trepca miners refused to return from their shift below ground to protest the government reversal. The number later reached around 800 miners.

Trepcas spokesman Musa Mustafa said the strike was called off after the government agreed to reconsider its position. Work will restart on Friday morning.

Serbia does not recognise Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence and claims some 75 percent of Trepca. It had warned that any attempt by Pristina to take over the mine would jeopardise EU-mediated talks between the two sides.

The Trepca complex of lead, zinc and silver mines once employed 20,000 people and accounted for the majority of the former Yugoslavia's mineral wealth.

Since Kosovo's 1999 breakaway from Serbia, Trepca has been held in trust and readied for sale by a United Nations agency.

Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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