The ContiTech Conveyor Belt Group has purchased the Serbian conveyor belt company Univerzal Kolubara. This is an important building block in our strategy of establishing a firmer foothold on the Eastern European market. At the same time it guarantees us a stable base for expanding business outside the automotive industry, noted Heinz-Gerhard Wente, member of the ContiTech AG Executive Board, after the agreement was signed.

Founded in 1963 and headquartered in Veliki Crljeni, to the south of Belgrade, the company, which makes conveyor belts for the local market, currently employs 250. ContiTech intends to invest in production at the location to meet the demand for conveyor belts. This plant gives us an excellent base in a region rich in lignite coal. Following the purchase of Matador in Slovakia, the merger with Kolubara provides us the wherewithal to be successful in Eastern Europe, says Hans-Jürgen Duensing, Head of the ContiTech Conveyor Belt Group business unit.

ContiTech notes Serbia's enormous lignite deposits, found in seams measuring up to 50 m. Much of the country's power generation relies on plants fired by domestic coal. This explains why a large number of leading energy companies is interested in beefing up their involvement in the country.

The Conveyor Belt Group reported consolidated sales of €469 million in 2008. It currently has a workforce of around 3,000 worldwide.

John Chadwick is editor/proprietor of International Mining magazine - www.im-mining.com