Small settlements have a great potential for development, too. Even in the 21st century in Bulgaria. Panagyurishte has its own recipe for prosperity and does not hide it. One of the advantages of this beautiful town in the Srednogorie region is that a profitable industry is developing here that has... a strong social policy. Local people are entrepreneurial by nature and many have their own businesses. Both the municipality and the entrepreneurs are able to make the most of the opportunities offered by the European programs. Investments continue to be made here that create new jobs. This provides livelihood, which in turn is a factor that stops migration. The opportunities for a good income and the higher standard of living are a reason to get a job and live in Panagyurishte. In general, this is the formula for the prosperity of the town. Of great importance, however, is the fact that prominent Bulgarians have grown up here and remain permanently connected to their native land. Such a bright person is Prof. Lachezar Tsotsorkov, who created and built the model of a successful business with care for people.
This summer, Asarel-Medet opened its doors for a group of journalists and gave them an opportunity to get acquainted not only with the organization of the work in the enterprise, but also with successful entrepreneurs from the town and the region.
Tradition and Innovation
“Panagyurishte is a municipality with traditions in ore mining, which also develops bio and conventional agriculture, tourism, optical production. Since the privatization in 1999, we have invested over BGN 1.2 billion in new technologies and modernization of production, in safe working conditions, environmental projects and upgrading of the qualification of employees. In 2019, the investment will amount to BGN 150 million. We are renovating the entire technological chain. We use electric excavators to minimize production emissions,” explains Engineer Delcho Nikolov, CEO of the company. He reminds that copper is also in the basis of Industry 4.0. Mines are often the drive of innovation on a global scale, and at Asarel-Medet, they also invest in innovative solutions. A new development project will extend the life of the mine by another 25 years. Additional exploration activities will be carried out aiming to discover more reserves in the periphery of the mine, which will be effectively utilized with new techniques and technologies.
The Facts Speak
Asarel-Medet is a transparent company that achieves high results with a team of about 1,200 people, 240 of them being engineers. The average salary is three times higher than the national average and twice that in the industry. There is a very strong interest in working for this company and it strives to offer attractive conditions, while in return, it receives the dedication of its staff. Currently, the company provides 30% of the employment in Panagyurishte, as well as 70% of the municipality’s revenues from local taxes and fees. More than 30% of the municipality’s budget is also thanks to Asarel-Medet. The company encourages the individual entrepreneurial activity of its employees and many of them have additional private businesses.
At a Calculated Pace
In Europe, only Asarel-Medet and Sweden’s company Aitik process ore with such a low copper content – only 0.27%. In order to increase their work efficiency by scale, competitive mines abroad dramatically increase the amount of ore extracted. In Asarel-Medet, however, they refrain from “predatory seizure of resources” in order to allow the mine to be in operation for a longer period of time. They work with a well-measured pace. Now, the bottom of the mine is 100 m above the level of the square in Panagyurishte, but with the development of the new project, it will go another 200 m. deeper. About 40-42 million tonnes of rock are extracted annually, of which only 13 million tonnes are ore, the other is a copper-free “yield”. In addition to being environmentally friendly, production must be safe. State-of-the-art tools are used to constantly monitor the entire production process. Modern eco-protection methods do not allow contaminated water to enter the environment; every drop is captured, purified and reused. Hydrotechnical facilities have standards that exceed ten times the permissible parameters for the country. That is why there are fish in the rivers, and bio-agriculture in the area is developing.
Care for the People
Asarel-Medet is a company that cares for the people. It continues to support and develop social projects. A good example is the investment of about BGN 120 million in the modernization of the municipal hospital, which was in a very poor condition. Through the public-private partnership model, UniHospital has turned into one of the most modern healthcare facilities on the Balkans. According to the Institute for Market Economics (IME), this hospital is already a factor in keeping people in the region. According to the senior economist of IME, Petar Ganev, young people usually “vote with their feet” and if they do not see development opportunities, they leave to study or work elsewhere and do not return. The socio-economic profile of Panagyurishte, prepared by IME, shows that the municipality is rapidly becoming an increasingly attractive place, and people not only stay here to work, but there is already a trend of reverse movement. Good pay, opportunities for personal and career development, as well as a comfortable living environment, contribute to the fact that the small town is favoured over a metropolis. In Panagyurishte, special attention is paid to the education of children, and there are dual classes. Panagyurishte hosts international events, including the World Fireworks Championship in May and the big Asarel Bulgaria Open table tennis tournament in August. The Panagyurishte gold treasure is just one of the reasons for the great tourist interest. Come here, there’s plenty to see, local people say. They are ready to share their recipe for revival of the small towns.