Hundreads of Kosovo miners are refusing to return from their shifts as part of a strike, demanding that the government continues with its plans to take complete control of the Trepca complex of lead, zinc and silver mines.

Last week, Kosovo’s new government promised to take control of the Trepca mining complex over fears of bankruptcy, but later rescinded that decision following an angry response from Serbia, Reuters reported.

Kosovo Assembly planned to enact a law to partially privatise the mine complex, which is claimed by Serbia.

"[Serbia] warned that any takeover attempt by Kosovo would jeopardise EU-mediated talks."

Almost 350 Trepca miners protested against the government’s U-turn on the mine’s ownership.

Serbia claims the right to 75% of the mining complex and does not recognise Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence. The country warned that any takeover attempt by Kosovo would jeopardise EU-mediated talks between the two governments.

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Trepca spokesman Musa Mustafa told Reuters: "The miners are on strike and they will not end it until parliament adopts the law on public enterprises."

Previously, the complex, which employed 20,000 people, accounted for the majority of mineral wealth of the former Yugoslavia.

The Trepca complex straddles Kosovo’s Serb-Albanian divide and is said to have been readied for sale by a United Nations-created agency.