Zijin opens copper and gold mine in Serbia
BELGRADE, October 22 (Reuters) – Zijin mine in China 601899.SS has started mining a new Serbian copper and gold mine which is expected to make the Balkan country the second largest copper producer in Europe.
The upper Cukaru Peki area of ââthe Timok copper and gold project is part of Serbia’s only copper mining complex, the RTB Bor operation owned by Zijin.
It has so far invested $ 474 million in the new underground mine, which is expected to have an annual capacity of 3.3 million tonnes of ore.
“The first part of the project is to extract a very high grade ore body. It is expected to produce 50,000 tonnes of copper and three tonnes of gold in 2021,” the company said on its website.
With the opening of the lower zone of the Timok project, Serbia’s share in total copper production in Europe could increase from 5% to 18%, which, according to the Energy Ministry, would make Serbia the second largest European producer behind Poland.
“This project (…) is important for the development of the Serbian economy and also for the strengthening of cooperation between Serbia and China,” Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo said at the meeting. opening ceremony of the mine in Bor.
In 2018, Zijin Mining became Serbia’s strategic partner in RTB Bor, committing to invest $ 1.26 billion in exchange for a 63% stake.
At the opening ceremony in Bor, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the Chinese investment will bring benefits to the business and to the impoverishment of eastern Serbia.
China has so far invested billions of euros in Serbia, mostly in soft loans to finance highways and energy projects, as part of its so-called Belt and Road Initiative to open new foreign trade links.
(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic Editing by David Goodman)
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