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China's Zijin to invest $474 mln in Serbian copper project

Author Radomir Ralev
China's Zijin to invest $474 mln in Serbian copper project Aleksandar Antic; Source: Gazprom

BELGRADE (Serbia), September 9 (SeeNews) - China's Zijin Mining Group plans to invest $474 million (429.8 million) in the development of the Cukaru Peki Upper Zone mine of the Timok copper-gold project in eastern Serbia, Serbian energy minister Aleksandar Antic has said.

Serbia's energy ministry has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the development of the Cukaru Peki Upper Zone with Zijin Mining Group and plans to start production of copper ore in the area in 2021, Antic said in a government press release on Sunday.

Zijin aims to produce 200,000 tonnes of copper annually, of which more than 120,000 tonnes to come from concentrate of Zijin Bor Copper, the Serbian unit of Zijin Mining Group, and 80,000 tonnes from the future Cukaru Peki Upper Zone mine, Antic was quoted as saying on the sidelines of the China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT) in Xiamen. 

The Chinese group injected $350 million in the capital of Serbian copper mining and smelting company RTB Bor in December 2018, acquiring majority ownership, and renamed it to Zijin Bor Copper.

In April, a unit of Chinese group JCHX Mining Management signed a 252.8 million yuan ($37.5 million/33.5 million euro) contract with Rakita Exploration, owned by Canadian company Nevsun Resources and US-based Freeport-McMoRan, for the construction of a gold and copper mine in the Cukaru Peki Upper Zone. The construction works are expected to be completed by July 2021, JCHX Mining Management said.

Nevsun said in December 2018 that China's Zijin Mining Group was successful in the offer to purchase all of its 276,820,575 issued and outstanding common shares for 6.0 Canadian dollars ($4.4/3.9 euro) apiece. The shares represent 89.37% of the total issued and outstanding Nevsun shares on a fully diluted basis.

The Timok project consists of the Cukaru Peki Upper Zone and Lower Zone. Nevsun Resources owns 100% of the Cukaru Peki Upper Zone. Nevsun owns a 46% stake in the Cukaru Peki Lower Zone, while Freeport - McMoRan Exploration Corporation owns the remainder.

The project is located within the central zone of the Timok Magmatic Complex (TMC), in the Serbian section of the East European Carpathian-Balkan Arc. The TMC has one of the highest concentrations of copper enrichment in the Tethyan Belt.

($ = 0.906694 euro)