Jasmin Brutus

Jasmin Brutus

Photographer, Camerman, and Video Editor

“I could do this job till the end of my life. True, it is dangerous and risky, but it pays off in the end”, says twenty-four-year-old, rebellious “employee” of the illegal coal mine known by his nickname “Grof” (translation: Count).

Work starts early in the morning, and sometimes if necessary it lasts all day. Very few people know about these mines. The authorities even buried some of them with explosives, and lately, the inspection doesn’t even take place here anymore because those in charge want to buy social order.

Most of the illegal coal mines in Bosnia and Herzegovina are found in the periphery of Zenica. The reason for this is the growing economic problems in the land, so people are compelled to do different jobs to survive, even dangerous ones.

These mines, compared to the legal ones, owned by the State government, offer a kind of “benefit” to their customers, in relation to the bought amount of coal. There are more flexibilities to do business in smaller quantities.

“Those that don’t have money for three tons of coal, but need only three bags of it, come to us”, says Grof about their business philosophy. The main preoccupations of these “Merry men” are money and women, and you can’t go to work without alcohol, of course.

“I like a good drink. This job is very dangerous. Little mistake and in a wink you get buried without anyone knowing about it”, says Grof during the break, and playing with his big, sharp knife.

He also explains the process of the coal mining. You dig with your bare hands, and the coal is dragged out to the surface in a bathtub found in a junkyard. After that, coal is separated, packed in bags and distributed by tractors to its happy customers.