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The development of inorganic chemical industry in Serbia started between the two World Wars. Facilities for production of sulfuric acid and copper sulfate in the factory ZORKA from Sabac, built up at the end of 1930's, were the biggest chemical plants on the Balkans at that time.

After the Word War II and especially during 1950's and 1960's, very significant investments were also realized in this production sector. Apart from repaired old facilities, a number of new production units were put into operation in the companies which had been active before the World War II, such as ZORKA - Subotica, ZUPA - Krusevac and ZORKA - Sabac.

Within 1960 the production of sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid, phosphoric fertilizers and a spectrum of inorganic salts started in the company IHP near town Prahovo. Already in the next year two new sulfuric acid plants were brought on-stream near the towns of Bor and Kosovska Mitrovica. The end of 1962 brought a new facility named HIP-AZOTARA for production of nitrogenous fertilizers near the town of Pancevo. Already at the end of 1960's IHP and HIP-AZOTARA became the leaders in their fields of fertilizers business in Central & Eastern Europe.

Inorganic acids and alkalis

Only two decades ago in Serbia there were several sulfuric acid plants (located in Holding Company ZORKA from Sabac, RTB BOR-TIR from Bor, IHP from Prahovo and TREPCA from Kosovska Mitrovica) and two phosphoric acid plants (located in ZORKA-MINERALNA DJUBRIVA from Sabac and IHP from Prahovo). Overall capacities reached the level of over 1.5 x 106 tpy of sulfuric acid and 475,000 tpy of phosphoric acid.

Unfortunately, almost all of these production facilities are now closed down or in operation only from time to time. The very expensive conservation of closed plants was usually executed inadequately, which means that most of these facilities are seriously damaged. As far as sulfuric acid is concerned, only one of the existing three production lines in Bor, based on the use of waste metallurgical gases, is in operation.

The company ZORKA-NAP in Sabac has an oleum plant which still operates. The facilities for production of battery acid exist in ZORKA-NAP (Sabac) and RTB BOR-TIR (Bor).

The company HIP-AZOTARA started its first ammonia production line and its first nitric acid plant in 1962. At the end of the last decade of the 20th century this company had in operation 3 production lines of ammonia with total capacity of 600,000 tpy and two nitric acid plants with total capacity of 355,000 tpy (based on 100% HNO3). Only one ammonia production line of 300,000 tpy is still in operation, which is a consequence of obsolete technology and NATO attack. The second domestic facility for production of nitric acid is located in the company AZOTARA from Subotica – the start-up of this plant with the capacity of 370,000 tpy of nitric acid (based on 60% HNO3) was in 1987.

There are two industrial producers of chemicals derived from chlor-alkali electrolysis plants, which are production units in two large chemical companies:

·        Petrohemija in the town of Pancevo – This electrolysis was brought on-stream in 1975 and prior to 1999 and NATO military intervention the installed capacity had amounted to 100,000 tpy of gaseous chlorine and 88,800 tpy of caustic soda (100%). The electrolysis plant was seriously damaged during NATO bombing and its capacity was reduced to 10,000 tpy.

·        Zupa in the town of Krusevac – This electrolysis has production capacity amounting to 4,000 tpy of liquid chlorine and 13,500 tpy of potassium-hydroxide (50%).

Both these domestic chlor-alkali electrolysis are based on the technology of mercury cells. Electrolysis in Zupa originally used potassium chloride as raw material with chlorine and potassium hydroxide as the output. During the period of the economic sanctions potassium chloride was substituted with sodium chloride (as electrolysis in Pancevo had been closed down from 1992 to 1996), and since than this plant has been producing caustic soda. At the beginning of 2005, company ŽUPA stopped its production activities - although already privatized a few years ago, this company is nowday’s in serious troubles and its business future is completely uncertain.


It is estimated that under normal circumstances, i.e. with industry performance on average, the domestic demand for electrolytic caustic soda would range from 130,000 tpy to 140,000 tpy. As domestic production has not exceeded 8,000 tpy during the last few years, very large quantities of caustic soda have been imported.

There are three producers of technical hydrochloric acid on the domestic market.

The major producer of hydrochloric acid is the company Petrohemija in Pancevo. Initially, production capacities were at the level of almost 20,000 tpy, located in two plants:

-    VCM Plant – 28% hydrochloric acid was produced as by-product, based on Lurgi technology with the capacity of 9,600 tpy. Badly ruined during NATO military intervention in 1999, this plant was closed down; 
- Chlor-Alkali Electrolysis Plant – 31-33% hydrochloric acid is produced through the synthesis of chlorine and hydrogen in the capacity of 10,000 tpy.

The significant part of manufactured hydrochloric acid is captive consumption inside Petrohemija’s petrochemical complex. The annual volume of production is currently around 7,000 tons.

Zupa in Krusevac started production of hydrochloric acid from chlorine in 1990 after the introduction of an electrochemical process for producing potassium salts. The designed annual capacity is 12,500 tpy of 33% HCl or 3,000 tpy of 100% HCl. The factory operates at approx. 50% capacity, with an average annual production of 5,500-6,000 tons.  

The third producer is Zorka-SONA KISELINA in Sabac with an installed production capacity of 4,000 tpy. This company produces 28-32% hydrochloric acid by dissolving sodium chloride with sulphuric acid. Currently, the annual volume of production is around 3,000 tons.

Hydrochloric acid is consumed in several industrial sectors:

The major consumer is the Electric Power Industry of Serbia (EPS) i.e. its thermal power plants. All thermal power stations consume hydrochloric acid, with the exception of one in Zrenjanin, which consumes sulphuric acid. The annual needs of EPS are 10,000-12,000 tons.

The ferrous metallurgy company US STEEL in Smederevo consumes around 2,000 tpy. Other larger consumers are other energy plants, petroleum refineries, sugar factories and chemical industry (including production of cleansers). It is forecasted that the domestic market could absorb another 10,000 tons of this inorganic acid.

Inorganic salts

Manufacturers of hypochlorites are the companies PETROHEMIJA in Pancevo and ZUPA in Krusevac. The company PETROHEMIJA has the capacity of 8,000 tpy, and produces sodium hypochlorite. Depending on market needs the company ZUPA produces both sodium hypochlorite and potassium hypochlorite.

The major domestic consumers of sodium hypochlorite used to be Viskoza in Loznica, cellulose & cellulose fibres factory, as well as the company MATROZ in Sremska Mitrovica, the biggest domestic producer of paper. However, a new bleaching technology, recently introduced by Matroz, is not based on sodium hypochlorite. Other domestic consumers of sodium hypochlorite are the textile industry and producers of cleansers. The supply and demand of this chemical product are balanced. The annual domestic consumption and production of sodium hypochlorite is expected to reach around 8-9,000 tons, depending on economic recovery.

ZORKA-SONA KISELINA in Sabac produces anhydrous sodium sulphate in the capacity of 5,000 tpy and crystalic sodium sulphate (Glauber salt) in the capacity of 7,000 tpy. VISKOZA in Loznica has technological capability of producing approx. 21,000 tpy of anhydrous sodium sulphate (99.99% Na2SO4) by treatment of by-product in cellulose fibres production process.

Production of other sulphates and sulphites, based on sulphur or waste gases (SO2 and SO3), is established in the companies ZUPA (Krusevac), ZORKA-NAP (Sabac), ZORKA-MINERALNA DJUBRIVA (Sabac) and RTB-TIR (Bor). All above-mentioned companies have facilities for production of copper sulphate, a chemical compound used as protection agent in wine growing sector. The biggest copper sulphate capacity of 17,500 tpy is located in Sabac, and capacities in Krusevac and Bor are 10,000 tpy each. Copper sulphate used to be an attractive export product.

ZORKA-NAP from Sabac also has in its production program anhydrous sodium sulphite (4,200 tpy), sodium thiosulphate (500 tpy), and potassium metabisulphite (250 tpy).

Following the enlarged use of aluminum sulphate in water treatment processes, several domestic companies (ZORKA-MINERALNA DJUBRIVA in Sabac, ZORKA-HEMIK in Subotica, AGROHEM in Novi Sad, IHP in Prahovo) built up the facilities for production of these inorganics. However, the recent production achievements had been very poor until in 2004 when production reached level of almost 7,000 tpy.

Sulphates of zinc, magnesium, manganese, iron and chrome are manufactured in flexible production plants. Such facilities are owned by the companies ZUPA from Krusevac, ZORKA-HEMIK from Subotica, AGROHEM from Novi Sad, RTB BOR-TIR from Bor and ITNMS from Belgrade. The production assortment of these plants depends on market requests, but a high-tonnage product is zinc sulphate. It should be underlined that in Krusevac the company ZUPA has the largest production capacities in this field of production that allow output of approx. 22,500 tpy of the above-mentioned sulphates.


Sodium silicate and potassium silicate are produced by the company MILOS MAMIC from Zemun.

During the year of 1968 the production of sodium tripoliphosphate started in the company IHP from Prahovo and a new capacity was brought on-stream in 1980. The new plant is designed for the production of 50,000 tpy and based on the technology delivered by the company OLIN (USA). The company IHP has also the facilities for production of some fluorine salts (cryolite and aluminium trifluoride). Short of working capital, all these plants today operate at minor level.

The company ZORKA KLOTILD 1904 in Subotica and the company ZORKA-MINERALNA DJUBRIVA in Sabac are two domestic producers of dicalcium phosphate with the quality intended for use in fodder mixtures. The company AGROHEM from Novi Sad produces urea phosphate.

The company RTB BOR-FABRIKA SOLI from Bor has a relatively new production facility specialized for manufacturing different salts based on precious metals and also catalysts based on those salts. Silver nitrate used to be an attractive export product.

Production of More Important Inorganic Chemicals









Ammonia, 100%

103 t







Hydrochloric acid (technical)

103 t







Nitric acid, 100%

103 t







Sulfuric acid, 66 Be’

103 t







Phosphoric acid, 100%

103 t







Caustic soda, electrolytical, 100%

103 t







Potassium hydroxide

103 t







Sodium sulphate, anhydrous

103 t







Sodium silicate, 36%

103 t







Sodium hypochlorite

103 t







Sodium tripoliphosphate

103 t







Aluminium sulphate

103 t







Copper sulphate

103 t







Zinc sulphate

103 t







Industrial gases

The company AGA-RUSE, located in Belgrade’s suburb Rakovica, which restored manufacturing activities after the World War II, changed its name into TEHNOGAS and started with the production of oxygen and acetylene. Already since the end of 1997 the major proprietor of this firm is company MESSER (Germany), one of the leading manufacturer and distributor of technical gases in the world. The renamed company MESSER TEHNOGAS is the only specialized manufacturer of industrial gases in Serbia. Its production program includes gaseous products (oxygen, nitrogen, argon, acetylene, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, helium, nitrogen sub oxide, special gases and gaseous mixtures), liquid products (oxygen, nitrogen, argon and carbon-dioxide) and solid products (carbon-dioxide-dry ice).


The global level company LINDE is the major proprietor of the company LINDE CARBO DIOXID from Becej, the largest manufacturer of gaseous and solid carbon-dioxide in Serbia.


The following quantities of main industrial gases were soled by the local manufacturing companies in 2003 and 2004:

                                                                      2003                           2004

·      Oxygen                112,986 tons             198,908 tons

·      Hydrogen                      47 tons                       52 tons

·      Nitrogen              153,654 tons             183,743 tons

·      Carbon dioxide   50,815 tons               62,904 tons

·      Argon                       8,105 tons                 8,946 tons

·      Acetylene                  689 tons                    717 tons


In spite of several competitive advantages like long-term production experience, disposable deposits of metal and non-metal ores and well skilled staff, the inorganic chemical industry failed to recover after the sanctions against Serbia were canceled. Today’s level of production activities in this field is very poor.

Future development in the field of inorganics may include investments in the production of some demanded basic chemicals that Serbia finds itself short of after the disintegration of the country, such as soda ash, hydrogen peroxide and sodium perborate. In the field of low-tonnage chemicals, there is a real possibility of enlargement of the assortment with some specialties (including inorganic chemicals that are used as auxiliaries in the production of food, textile, plastic products and rubber goods).


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