Zijin triples production at Serbian copper complex
Bor, in north-eastern Serbia, is one of the country’s most polluted cities. While local people protest their toxic air and water, Chinese mining company Serbia Zijin Copper, which runs the city’s large-scale copper mining and smelting complex, is expanding its operations without permits, local consent or transparency. Zijin is one of the many highly polluting Chinese investments undertaken without the necessary environmental and social due diligence.
Since 2018, when the new owner of Bor smelter complex, the Chinese-owned Serbia Zijin Copper started its operations, the lives of the citizens in at least five villages in this area of Serbia have been upended. In an open letter this March the villagers of Ostrelj state that the two companies, Serbia Zijin Copper and Serbia Zijin Mining, are expanding their activities threatening their health, private property, and livelihood.
The villagers are calling on the authorities to stop unauthorized construction and find a solution for all the residents who are trapped between the old and new mines and hills of tailings. When winds blow, the Ostrelj village is coated in toxic dust.
The villagers claim that the authorities have not developed a master spatial plan that would describe the future of their village and delineate the mining complex on their territory and describe the environmental impact and the purpose of facilities that Chinese had been building without permits. An environmental impact assessment for just one facility was put out for public consultations after it had already been built.
According to the villagers and research conducted by the Serbian Renewables and Environmental Regulatory Institute (RERI), the Chinese investors have been getting away with construction conducted without legally required documents and permits.
Meanwhile, Zijin’s mining operations are extending its reach on their territory while the local community representatives say that they are kept in the dark by the local as well as national authorities.
The villagers therefore demand a moratorium on further mining activities before the authorities have created a master spatial plan for relocation of their and six other affected villages and called on Zijin to undertake all protection measures to prevent their further poisoning by toxic dust.
“The Serbian state should stop all the mining activities in Bor and all the constructions that have been implemented without a permit. We also need adequate resettlement plans for the villagers before the work can continue”, said Zvezdan Kalmar, director of the Serbian environmental organizations the Centre for Ecology and Sustainable Development (CEKOR).
The gradual weakening of legal requirements for Chinese investments in Serbia is alarming.
A legal analysis by RERI and Just Finance International shows that China’s influence had an overall negative impact on the legal system in the country. Its business activities increased the number of loopholes in the law, which made exceptions for highly polluting large-scale infrastructure investments, predominantly from Chinese enterprises or financed by Chinese state loans.
The problems have also been addressed in a resolution from the European Parliament 2021.The European Parliament called on Serbia to strengthen its legal compliance standards for Chinese business activities and sent a warning to Belgrade that its behavior is jeopardizing the country’s European accession process.
For several years now, both the Serbian government and the Chinese company have ignored the legal irregularities of the Zijin copper mining and smelter projects. However, some attempts have been made to address the problems in Bor.
For example, in April 2021, Serbian authorities suspended construction work at the Jama mine, core to Bor’s operations, after the company failed to comply with environmental standards. In April 2022, after thousands gathered to protest the project in Belgrade, Serbian authorities halted the operations of Zijin citing environmental pollution. But the attempts did not satisfy the protesting citizens and are regarded as temporary solutions without dealing with the fundamental problem of the operations.
The affected villagers call the government for transparency. They claim that the monitoring of ongoing mining and production activities that could put their lives in peril remain to be ignored by both the Serbian authority and the Chinese who operate Bor cooper mine.
One major uncertainty is what impact the Zijin operations will have on the Krivelj river. The river is of utmost importance for the livelihood of the farming community and the villagers’ fears that Zijin is actively working to change the course of the river since it is blocking their way for a new tailing dam.
The waste from Serbia Zijin Copper operations is deposited on an old dam under which was built a tunnel that secures the Krivelj river’s flow to Ostrelj village. In the end of 2021, the drainage tunnel showed cracks and local media report that toxic substances have leaked into the river. This weakness in critical structure have been identified more than a decade ago, but the authorities failed to tackle them.
In 2007 Serbia started negotiations with the World Bank to build a new drainage system for wastewater to clean that dam. But the country never took to the loan and the project was shelved by 2015. Now, with Zijin expanding its operations more than two times compared with the past and the problem with the dam is still not solved.
The dam holding the toxic waste represent environmental hazard that could not only endanger villages around Bor such as Ostrelj, but also regional capital Zajecar and the town of Negotin. The spill could roll further downstream into the Timok river and all the way to Danube, causing transboundary pollution in Romania and Bulgaria.
So far, the Serbian government, which owns a stake in one of the two locally owned companies has turned a blind eye to various violations of the procedures and Zijin is not making any serious attempts to mediate with the citizens in Bor. Now the pollution is reaching new records in Bor. The expansion of smelter activities has led to an average annual increase of carcinogenic arsenic in air for 10 times over the threshold, according to Serbian experts.
The open letter from the villagers in the Zijin-affected communities Ostrelj was addressed to all the major stakeholders in Serbia including the president Aleksandar Vucic. The villagers feel they have been kept in the dark from the decisions for the expansion of Zijin’s mining operations, fearing the impacts, as well as how they feel as “foreigners in their own country”.
Zijin´s operations in Serbia are among the biggest copper mining operations in Europe and the copper is the number one export product from Serbia to China. Yet, Serbia is only getting 5 percent royalties from Zijin´s revenues which is one of the lowest royalties for mining operations in Europe.
Zvezdan Kalmar believe that the lack of royalties is a problem for Serbia.
“Without this money we won’t be able to regulate and control the negative impact of the mining activities at all”, he said, Just Finance International writes.
Skouries project is expected to produce an aggregate of 140,000oz of gold and 67 million pounds of copper per annum
Canadian firm Eldorado Gold has signed a mandate letter for a credit-committee-sanctioned €680m finance facility from Greek banks to develop the Skouries project in northern Greece.
The mandate letter, which is subject to negotiation of definitive loan documentation and other conditions, includes a long-form term sheet comprising customary terms and conditions.
According to the feasibility study, the project is expected to cost $845m for development.
Eldorado president and CEO George Burns said: “We believe that Skouries is a world-class project that will have a lasting positive economic and social impact for Greece, the communities we work in, and other stakeholders.
“We remain confident in the feasibility study capital cost estimate of $845m, and with the project finance facility in place, the company has the balance sheet capacity to fund the remaining capital cost for completion of the project.
“We also continue to evaluate opportunities for complementary sources of financing. A final decision to re-start construction remains subject to board approval, which we expect to seek in the second half of 2022.”
Part of the Kassandra Mines Complex, the Skouries project is a gold-copper porphyry deposit located within the Halkidiki Peninsula of Northern Greece.
With an anticipated operational life of 20 years, the project is expected to produce an aggregate of 140,000oz of gold and 67 million pounds of copper per annum.
The deposit is planned to be mined using a combination of conventional open pit and underground mining techniques, Eldorado said.
Through its first production, the project is expected to pay back the costs within less than four years and generate an average free cash flow of $215m per year in the first five years, Mining Technology writes.
Anglo Asian Mining expects to produce 54,000-58,000 gold equivalent ounces in 2022
Anglo Asian Mining PLC expects to produce 54,000 to 58,000 gold equivalent ounces (GEOs) in 2022, the Azerbaijan-focused company said alongside its first-half results.
The copper, gold, and silver miner produced 28,772 GEOs in the first half, down from 32,171 ounces in the year-earlier period, due to lower gold grades from its Gedabek operation.
Anglo Asian said it has made good progress at its Vejnaly and Gosha licences and that production from these areas should result in output at the upper end of the guidance range.
Total costs were steady as higher electricity and material costs were offset by lower cyanide usage, but lower output resulted in a 16% year-on-year increase in the all-in-sustaining cost of gold production to US$983 an ounce.
Pretax profit for the six months to end-June 2022 dipped to US$5.7mln from US$5.9mln as revenue fell 27.6% to US$31.5mln on lower gold doré sales.
The group said it achieved encouraging progress amid a difficult external environment.
“We made significant progress in the development of our portfolio with excellent progress made at Zafar, Vejnaly and Hasan, all of which will enter production in the next 3 to 12 months,” said Anglo Asian chief executive Reza Vaziri in the results statement. “This will ease our reliance on production from Gedabek as they are set to produce meaningful quantities of ore next year.”
The AIM-traded company said it plans to pay an interim dividend of 4 US cents per share.
Since the period end, the company’s revised production sharing agreement became law in Azerbaijan, granting the group three new contract areas.
“This is an exciting time for Anglo Asian Mining, with the acquisition of our three new contract areas,” said Vaziri “These will transform our business and are substantial drivers for growth”, Pro Active Investors writes.
Euro Sun close to getting final approvals for gold-copper project in Romania
Canada-based Euro Sun Mining said on Thursday that it is close to getting the final approvals it needed in order to obtain an exploitation permit for its Rovina Valley gold and copper project in Romania.
The company has submitted the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) along with the Zonal Urban Plan (PUZ) – the final documents required prior to seeking approval by the environment ministry and subsequently getting the permits for construction, it said in a press release.
“We believe that the Rovina Valley project will provide access to significant employment and economic value in the Hunedoara area and would be a key strategic asset for Romania and the EU,” Euro Sun Mining chief operating officer Sam Rasmussen said.
The company aims to become a critical supplier of copper and gold for development of the European Union.
“Two significant examples of responsible mining are the lack of cyanide in the Rovina Valley Project’s processing circuit and the placement of dry or filtered tailings, eliminating the possibility of a catastrophic dam failure. The Rovina Valley project will provide strong economic benefits to all our local communities, the region and to the Romanian state incorporating the highest environmental practices,” Euro Sun Mining CEO Scott Moore said.
In February, Euro Sun Mining entered into a 3.5 million Canadian dollars ($2.75 million/2.42 million euro) convertible security funding agreement with Lind Global Fund II, part of which it plans to invest in the Rovina Valley project.
In March 2021, Euro Sun announced that it estimates a robust gold and copper output and total initial capital expenditures (CAPEX) of $399 million at Rovina Valley, following positive results of the definitive feasibility study which uncovered a potential average annual gold equivalent production of 146,000 ounces over the first ten years, consisting of 106,000 ounces of gold and 19 million pounds of copper per annum.
Toronto-listed Euro Sun is a mining company focused on the exploration and development of its 100%-owned Rovina Valley gold and copper project located in west-central Romania, which hosts the second largest gold deposit in Europe, SeeNews reports.
Russia to provide 712 million Euro loan for construction of copper processing plant in Uzbekistan
Russia’s State Development Corporation VEB.RF will finance supply of Russian equipment for the largest copper processing plant in Uzbekistan.
A 712 million Euro loan agreement was signed between VEB.RF and Almalyk mining and metallurgical complex ahead of visit of President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev to Russia.
The loan will be spent for construction of the copper processing plant in Almalyk.
The project will support development of Yoshlik mine and its prospective consolidation with Kalmakyr mine. The united mine will become one of the world’s biggest copper mines. The loan funds will be used for procurement Russian equipment and services under the project, financing of a part of project expenditures.
Almalyk mining and metallurgical complex (AMMC) intends to increase copper processing up to 160 million tons a year. This would allow to achieve production of copper cathodes up to 400,000 tons a year by 2028.
AMMC intends to produce around 270 tons of silver and 50 tons of gold a year by 2028.
Construction of the plant will require $2 billion. Gazprom Bank and Export Insurance Agency of Russia will be involved in financing of the project.
VEB.RF earlier provided loans to AMMC for purchase of quarry trucks and mining equipment.
The Garadagh porphyry deposit alone contains over 300,000 tonnes of copper
The Garadagh porphyry deposit alone contains over 300,000 tonnes of copper with an in-situ value of over US$3.0bn at current prices.
Anglo Asian Mining agreed terms with the Azerbaijan government over three huge new copper concessions in the country.
The new concessions, with a combined area of 882 square kilometres, will be immediately effective following ratification by the Parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
In a statement, Anglo Asian said it was a transformational milestone with the Garadagh porphyry deposit alone containing over 300,000 tonnes of copper with an in-situ value of over US$3.0bn at current prices.
The company said it is currently evaluating how best to exploit the economically mineable copper resources contained within the new concessions, which have considerable synergies and geographical proximity with it existing mining properties.
Two of the new concessions border the existing Gedabek and Gosha Contract Areas and contain the large-scale Garadagh porphyry deposit and the adjacent Xarxar copper deposit.
A comprehensive exploration programme to prepare JORC compliant mineral resource and ore reserve estimates will commence after the ratification of the new concessions.
Development will follow the finalisation of the ore reserve estimates and the company anticipates ore will be extracted by open-pit mining.
The third new concession area is called Demirli and is adjacent to the Kyzlbulag Contract Area in the Karabakh economic region.
Demirli contains the Demirli copper-molybdenum deposit with an unverified estimated resource of 275,000 tonnes of copper and 3,200 tonnes of molybdenum.
As part of the agreement, Anglo Asian will relinquish its rights to the Soutely mine in the Kalbajar district after an assessment of the security risks.
The three new concessions will be incorporated into the company’s existing Production Sharing Agreement.
Reza Vaziri, Anglo Asian’s chief executive, said: “The recent cessation of hostilities with Armenia has presented an opportunity for Anglo Asian to develop its remaining contract areas, granted in 1998 (when its PSA was ratified), and to significantly accelerate its growth strategy towards becoming a mid-tier gold and copper producer.
Stephen Westhead, vice-president, added: “In regard to Garadagh and Xarxar, we have considerable expertise and understanding of the area after extensive exploration and mining around Gedabek for many years. These new concessions, which have previously had some exploration, represent great upside potential for Anglo Asian in terms of additional resources.
“The substantial volumes of copper within the Garadagh and Demirli deposits significantly strengthen our copper inventory and future”.
Copper mine in northern Sweden scales up resource estimates
The wind mills could symbolise the main reason why it is economical profitable to reopen the old mine beneath the ground at Viscaria outside Kiruna: A growing demand for copper in a world moving towards an electrified society.
Copperstone Resources this week announced revised and enlarged ambitions for the reopening of the Viscaria copper mine in Kiruna, northern Sweden. The estimate for yearly milled-rate production is now 3 million tons annually, compared to earlier assumptions of 2 million tons. That will be enough to produce 30,000 tons of copper per year.
Increased production, combined with growing demand and higher prices on the world market, gives a boost to the company’s annual net profit, now estimated to be between 3 to 4 billion Swedish kroner (€294 to €393 million) annually.
The underground copper mine, located next to Europe’s largest iron-ore mine, was originally started by LKAB in 1983. Two years later, the mining was sold to Outokumpu who extracted ore until closure in 1996 following a collapse in global copper prices. At the time, the Viscaria mine was Europe’s largest underground copper mine.
Favourable global market
With ambition to restart mining by 2023, Copperstone Resources says the global copper market is favourable, with prospects of long-term imbalance of supply and demand.
Copper is a key metal for a world on path to find sustainable solutions for electricity production in times of climate crisis.
“It is very gratifying that we gradually are making progress in the restart of Viscaria mine and that the team efforts and the promising market conditions have enabled a better and more sizeable project than we previously estimated. Moreover, our growing team of experts constantly finds new solutions that gives a more optimized and sustainable production”, the company’s CEO Anna Tyni said in a statement.
Restarting the mine would bring some 200 new jobs to Kiruna.
Zijin Mining began operations at a new Serbian copper and gold mine
China’s Zijin Mining began operations at a new Serbian copper and gold mine expected to make the Balkan country Europe’s second-largest copper producer.
The Cukaru Peki upper zone of the Timok copper and gold project is part of Serbia’s only copper mining complex, the RTB Bor operation owned by Zijin.
It has invested $474-million so far in the new underground mine, which is expected to have annual capacity of 3.3-million tonnes of ore.
“The first part of the project involves mining an ultra high-grade ore body. It is expected to produce 50 000 t of copper and 3 t of gold in 2021,” the company said on its website.
With the opening of the lower zone of the Timok project, Serbia’s share of Europe’s total copper output could rise to 18% from 5%, which the energy ministry has said would make Serbia Europe’s second-largest producer behind Poland.
“This project … is important for the development of Serbia’s economy and also for strengthening cooperation between Serbia and China,” China’s ambassador to Serbia, Chen Bo, said at the mine’s opening ceremony in Bor.
In 2018 Zijin Mining became Serbia’s strategic partner in RTB Bor, pledging to invest $1.26-billion in return for a 63% stake.
At the opening ceremony in Bor, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic said the Chinese investment would bring benefits to the company and impoverished eastern Serbia.
China has so far invested billions of euros in Serbia, mostly in the form of soft loans to finance highway and energy projects, as part of its so-called belt and road initiative to open new foreign trade links.
A big project starts near Bor
The value of shares on the stock exchange jumped to the Chinese company “Zidjin mining”, as they announced that they would start the exploitation of copper and gold at a new deposit in Serbia.
Shares of the Chinese company, which is the owner of the former RTB Bor, jumped on the Hong Kong stock exchange by 13 percent, and with a subsequent slight decline, the total growth in the value of shares of “Zidjina” was 8.2 percent, reports “Market Watch”.
“Zidjin” previously announced that it had received a permit from the state of Serbia for exploitation in the upper zone of the Čukaru Peka deposit, and that excavations would begin.
Reserves in that zone are estimated at 1.28 million tons of copper and 81 tons of gold, it was announced from “Zidjin”. It is planned to mine about 3.3 million tons of ore annually. According to estimates from the Chinese company, the project will have a production of 50,000 tons of copper and three tons of gold in 2021.
Exploitation at the Čukaru Peka deposit comes at a time when the price of copper on world markets is rising, according to Goldman Sachs. A significant shortage of that metal is expected in the last quarter of the year, and “global copper reserves could fall to a historically low value by the end of 2021,” the investment bank estimates. They expect that the price of copper on the world markets could reach 10,500 dollars per ton by the end of the year, reports “Market Watch”.
As the Minister of Mining and Energy, Zorana Mihajlović, stated earlier, with the opening of the new mine, Serbia will become the second producer of copper and gold in Europe.
CAML announced that its Kounrad copper recovery plant in Kazakhstan produced 4,146 tonnes of copper in Q3 2021
Central Asia Metals (AIM: CAML) today announced that its Kounrad copper recovery plant in Kazakhstan produced 4,146 tonnes of copper in Q3 2021, which brings output for the first nine months of 2021 to 10,360 tonnes.
The company added that at its Sasa zinc-lead mine in North Macedonia, mined and processed ore in Q3 2021 were 200,820 tonnes and 203,043 tonnes respectively, bringing the total for the first nine months of 2021 to 614,807 tonnes of ore mined and 626,906 tonnes of ore processed.
The average head grades for the quarter were 3.30% zinc and 3.64% lead, and for the first nine months of the year were 3.19% and 3.54% respectively. The average metallurgical recoveries marginally increased during the period to 85.1% for zinc and 93.4% for lead.
Accordingly, the company noted that its Q3 2021 payable production of zinc was 4,827 tonnes and of lead was 6,580 tonnes, bringing total payable production for the nine-month period to 14,313 tonnes of zinc and 19,697 tonnes of lead.
The company also reported that during the first nine months of 2021, Sasa sold 238,535 ounces of payable silver to Osisko Gold Royalties, in accordance with its streaming agreement.
CEO Nigel Robinson commented, “I am pleased to report strong production from both of our operations during Q3 2021. At Kounrad, we remain on track to meet the top end of our production guidance, and at Sasa, we have reported improved zinc and lead grades for the period, which have resulted in higher metal production than the previous quarter. We expect this trend to continue into Q4, although 2021 production for lead may be in the order of 5% below our guidance”.
Central Asia Metals, an AIM-listed UK company based in London, owns 100% of the Kounrad SX-EW copper project in central Kazakhstan and 100% of the Sasa zinc-lead mine in North Macedonia.