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BELGRADE (Serbia), January 2 (SeeNews) - Serbia expects China's Zijin Mining Group to open the Cukaru Peki Upper Zone mine of the Timok copper-gold project in the second half of 2021, energy minister Aleksandar Antic has said.
"The certified reserves at the Cukaru Peki Upper Zone stand at about 44.7 million tonnes of ore with a high copper content and associated gold and silver," Antic said in a video file posted on the website of news agency Tanjug earlier this week.
The certification of the Cukaru Peki Upper Zone reserves enables Zijin to continue very intensively the next steps to the opening of the mine, Antic said. "We expect the beginning of works on the opening of the mine in 2020, and the first production of copper in the second half of 2021."
The government expects Serbia's mining sector to start generating between 4% and 5% of the total gross domestic product (GDP) of Serbia in the next few years, up from the current 2%, Antic noted.
In September, Antic said Zijin plans to invest $474 million (422.9 million) in the development of the Cukaru Peki Upper Zone mine and to produce 200,000 tonnes of copper annually.
The Timok copper and gold project located in eastern Serbia consists of the Cukaru Peki Upper Zone and Lower Zone. Zijin owns 100% of the Cukaru Peki Upper Zone plus a 60.4% stake in the Cukaru Peki Lower Zone, while US-based Freeport McMoran owns the remainder. In November, Zijin signed an agreement to acquire Freeport McMoran's copper and gold assets in Serbia for up to $390 million.
($ = 0.8922 euro)