Record breaking mobile pumping operation in Serbia

Removing flood waters from coal mine in Serbia

Posted on 1 September 2014


In May 2014 extreme rainfall caused many floods in the Balkans. The situation along the Sava and Kolubara rivers soon became critical and on 16 May the biggest pit of the Kolubara mines flooded. In a few hours time some 200 million cubic meters flood water poured in the 70 m deep pit. 

With a loan from the World Bank, pit owner Elektroprivreda Serbia (EPS) tendered a larger pump project in August. The tender was won by Energotechnika Juzna Backa that subcontracted Van Heck to provide its large HK700 pumps. 

Dutch company Van Heck redeployed its 20 mobile HK700 pumps from the open pit coal mine Kolubara in Serbia. For seven months the pumps had been operational and removed a record amount of more than 150 million cubic meters of flood water. 

The size of the operation is also illustrated by the number of trucks that were needed to deploy all materials to Serbia. It took up to 170 trucks to transport all equipment. 

Next to the pumps, some 10 km of large pipes were needed to pump the flood water back into the Kolubara river.


See the video on YouTube 


To put the Kolubara mine, which supplies coal for 3/4 of Serbia’s electrical power, back in business as soon as possible.


By removing more than 150.000.000 m3 of water out of the mine the mission of Van Heck was accomplished. Herewith Van Heck contributed positively to the Serbian economy.

Current status
The Kolubara mine is in full production.

Project plan

Complete 3 phase engineering:

  • Pumping in parallel (first phase)
  • Pumping in series (second phase)
  • Removing the remaining muddy water

Initiated total pump capacity: More than 100.000 m3/hour.

Lessons learned
Training local people on site and dealing with language barriers and cultural differences.

Technologies used

  • Deploying 20 diesel driven mobile HK700 pumps and 7,5 km of pipes (Ø800 + Ø1000 pipes).
  • Engineering different set ups for 3 phases of pumping.

Project location

Project partners

  • Van Heck