Revaluation of Romania’s enormous mineral wealth
At the level of the National Agency for Mineral Resources (NAMR) a quantitative, qualitative and value revaluation action is in full swing, for over 700 deposits of solid minerals, then following to move to mineral waters and oil reserves. However, it is difficult to quantify the value of these deposits in money, but for specialists the value of a deposit is given by its size and quality. Within this action, carried out by NAMR, about 60 deposits of ore, coal, building materials etc. have been revalued and tens of government decisions have been drawn up aiming at the registration of the real reserves at the current level of detail and knowledge. The new values of reserves are registered in the inventory of assets in the public domain of the state, in conditions in which there are deposits whose reserves have never been valued, having only an initial homologation thereof.
Romania is country rich in mineral resources, but the reality is that we no longer know how much this wealth hidden in thousands of deposits is worth. The last quantitative revaluation was made 15 years ago. Since then, the increasing demand for raw material has led to a massive exploitation of mineral resources, and new deposits have been discovered in parallel.
The first database, in 1925
In 1925, Romania made its first database on deposits. After more than 40 years, in 1968, geological data was introduced for the first time in a computer purchased from the U.S. Subsequently, in 1971, another computer was purchased, also from the U.S., for data storage. During 1997-1999, NAMR had made one of the most performing databases in the oil industry. Today, all data stored at the time with great effort is lost. Now, it must be re-uploaded.
Gold is no longer exploited
Gold and silver ore reserves are estimated at 760 tons, according to data available. But in Romania gold hasn’t been exploited since 2007, after all exploitations had been closed because they were no longer profitable due to outdated technologies and high production costs. In the years to follow, technologies have improved, new ones have emerged, but Romania no longer opened the gold mines. In a top of the largest untapped 50 gold mines and deposits in the world, published in 2012 by Natural Resources Holdings, the deposit in Rosia Montana ranked 17, being valued at 18.5 million ounces of gold. Another deposit, the one in Rovina, was estimated at 6.96 million ounces of gold and ranked 47 in the top. Now, the only gold exploited is the one that appears in association with polymetallic ores.
Non-ferrous processing industry, destroyed
Copper deposits are estimated at around 2 billion tons, and the state-owned company Cupru Min holds the rights of exploitation for the largest deposit in Romania, the one in Rosia Poieni, where 60% of the country’s reserves are located. Although Romania is the European country with the largest copper reserves, the manufacturing industry is missing. It existed, but was destroyed after 1990, and now the copper ore concentrate is exported and processed products are imported. In 1990 there were 3 plants where processing was made, but one by one they have all been destroyed by failed privatizations. While Sometra Copsa Mica, Apelum Zlatna and Phoenix Baia Mare (formerly Cuprom) became history, our neighbours, Bulgaria and Serbia, have developed over the past few years a strong non-ferrous metals manufacturing industry.
90 million tons of polymetallic ores
Another important resource is represented by polymetallic ores. According to the Economic Encyclopedia of Mineral Resources, there are 90 million tons of polymetallic ores in Romania. One ton of polymetallic ore contains 10 grams of molybdenum, 30 grams of nickel and cobalt, 50 grams of chromium, 300 grams of gallium, 1,000 grams of titanium, 2,500 grams of vanadium and 5,000 grams of grams of arsenic.
Yellow hydrogen can save coal
Romania’s coal reserves are large, but the new environmental policy of the European Union, known as the Green Deal, requires the abandonment of polluting technologies. The current data shows that Romania has hard coal reserves of about two billion tons, of which 600 million tons are in exploited perimeters. Also, Romania’s lignite resources are estimated at 690 million tons, of which exploitable in leased perimeters, 290 million tons. This vital resource for the Romanian energy system will have to be replaced with less polluting sources, but coal might not be removed completely, already having technologies that can transform it into syngas, synthetic diesel and hydrogen (yellow H2 – coming from fossil fuels). Hydrogen, as an energy alternative, hasn’t been only a topic of discussion in Europe for a long time. There are already many plants that produce green hydrogen (coming from biomass) and Germany has recently allocated EUR 9bn to develop the hydrogen industry. Romania is still contemplating the idea.
According to BP evaluations, Romania has proven oil reserves of around 100 million tons and gas reserves of 100 billion cubic meters, excluding the offshore area. NAMR has not evaluated the mineral resources of the country, highlighted in the inventory of assets in the public domain of the state, managed by the authority, so assets in the nature of petroleum resources were recorded on December 31, 2015 with a ‘zero’ inventory value, according to a report of the Court of Auditors issued last year.
We have rare metals, but we don’t exploit them
Romania is one of the few countries in Europe that holds rare metal resources. For example, before 1989, Romania was the sixth country in the world, after the U.S., USSR, China, Japan and France, to produce zirconium, from which the capsules in which the nuclear fuel for the Cernavoda plant is stored are manufactured. Titanium, which was used in the aerospace industry, was also mined. Another metal was vanadium, which is now included by the European Commission in the list of 30 critical raw materials for the EU. Vanadium is used to make special steels, and vanadium alloys are used in nuclear reactors, due to the poor interactivity of the element. Another ore passed on the U.S. list. is graphite, the raw material from which graphene is produced, a material up to 200 times stronger than steel and 1,000 times lighter than a sheet of paper. It is the best conductor of electricity, and the energy industry uses it more and more. The only graphite mine in Romania, located in Gorj County, produced about 40,000 tons per year in the 1990s, but is now closed. A lesser known element is tellurium, which in Europe is found only in Romania and Sweden, and globally China, USA, Canada and Australia still have reserves. It is a rare metal used in the manufacture of atomic bomb casings, in the aerospace and energy industries, but in Romania it is no longer extracted.
List of critical materials, extended to 30
The European Union’s reliance on imports of raw materials threatens key industries and exposes it to blockades by China and other resource-rich states, shows a report by the European Commission, according to international media. Thus, the lack of raw materials used to produce batteries and equipment used in the field of renewable energy could also jeopardize the objective of the EU to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The European Union estimates that in order to reach the climate neutrality target, the EU bloc would need 18 times more lithium and five times more cobalt by 2030. Forecasts for 2050 show that the EU will need 60 times more lithium and 15 times more cobalt, according to international media. Under these conditions, the list of critical raw materials for the EU was expanded to 30 materials, from 27, with four metals being added, while helium gas was removed.
Euro Sun’s big gold mining project in Rovina Valley, Romania
Without doubt, one of the best jurisdictions to build a mine is the European Union. Not only do countries in the trading bloc boast advanced infrastructure and pro-mining laws, but also the E.U. framework establishes cross-border political stability and heavily promotes foreign direct investment.
Euro Sun Mining is primed and ready to develop Europe’s second largest gold resource – the 10 million ounce Rovina Valley Gold Project, and this exciting opportunity could be about to make investors a great deal of money.
The location of a major gold mining project is critical. A company can be sitting on the biggest metal resource in the world, but it doesn’t mean a thing if local law and civil unrest prevent its development. There’s a reason why high-quality projects are so rare in the world’s most attractive mining jurisdictions – most of them have already been taken. Institutional investors flock to back deposits of mineralization in safe regions, which promote natural resources development, because they know this gives them the best chance of developing a mine. This maximizes their chances of seeing a giant-sized return on investment.
Rovina Valley project
Euro Sun is the 100% owner of the Rovina Valley project in west-central Romania.
From a geological perspective, Romania is hugely prospective. The area where Rovina Valley sits is known as the “Golden Quadrilateral”. It is one of Europe’s largest gold-producing regions, with more than 55 million ounces having been pulled out of the ground since since Roman times.
Despite this, Romania hasn’t made much of a meaningful impact on the global mining investment world because state-owned businesses have dominated the development of its vast resources. Now this is changing.
Since joining the European Union in 2007, Romania’s compliance with the trading bloc’s rules and obligations has fostered a culture of improved governance principals at the state level. Over the years, this has created a friendly and incentive-based economic environment that has encouraged more and more international business. Soaring levels of foreign direct investment continue to propel Romania forward, and the country is currently on track to deliver the second-highest EU country GDP growth in 2020 and 2021. Against this backdrop, the floodgates for foreign investment into the country’s highly attractive mining industry have opened. And the catalyst was none other than Euro Sun Mining. In 2018, this company became the first-ever non-state-owned business to win a mining license from the Romanian government.
Euro Sun was able to succeed where others had failed, by approaching the development of Rovina Valley with a deeply-held commitment to sustainable Environmental, Societal, and Governmental principles:
-No cyanide will be used at Rovina Valley, and dry stack tailings will be used rather than wet tailings to reduce visual impact and water usage.
-The company will re-use existing infrastructure left over by the nearby, historic Barza mine, use renewable power sources, and confirm the absence of archaeological remains.
-Local communities will be engaged throughout Rovina Valley’s development and production to provide hundreds of jobs and remain the need for community resettlement.
Euro Sun has the green light to do everything from exploration to development, production, and commercialization at Rovina Valley.
Looking further forward, the support of the Romanian government opens the doors wide for the firm when it comes to future mining opportunities in Europe’s newest mining investment destination. It’s no surprise that institutional investors are falling over themselves to get exposure to Euro Sun. As recently as May 2020, the company upsized a bought deal public offering from C$12 million to C$20 million in response to extreme demand – it eventually raised C$22.3 million. As a result of this, Euro Sun now counts leading UK fund manager Ruffer as its leading shareholder with a 9% position. With the likes of Franklin Templeton and ASA Gold and Precious Metals also taking large stakes in the raise, close to a third of the company’s share capital now sits in institutional hands.
But it’s not just the firm’s location and permitting progress that has got these individuals excited; it’s also Rovina Valley’s quality.
The project hosts 10.11 million ounces of gold in the highly prized Measured and Indicated resources categories spread across three pits – Colnic, Rovina, and Ciresata. This makes it Europe’s second-largest gold deposit. Meanwhile, Euro Sun has also taken great steps to demonstrate the economic viability of its project. A preliminary economic assessment in 2019 gave the Colnic pit alone a pre-tax net present value of US$228.1 million and an internal rate of return of 15.4% at US$1,325/oz gold. At today’s >US$1,900/oz spot price, this NPV5 increases to more than US$700 million – and that’s not even factoring in the value of the Rovina deposit, which will be developed sequentially.
The Lassonde Curve
One indicator in particular suggests Euro Sun’s share price is about to go on a run much higher – the Lassonde Curve. The Lassonde Curve uses historical data to map out the typical valuation journey that mining projects take throughout their lifecycle – from early stage exploration to full mine development. According to the Lassonde Curve, the recent institutional investment in Euro Sun puts it on track for a massive re-rate as more heavyweight investors buy in throughout Rovina Valley’s construction and production.With Euro Sun on track to complete the remaining feasibility and development needed to become “shovel ready” by next year, its current C$0.47 share price and C$78.6 million market cap present an exciting opportunity.
And as if this was not enough, the company is entering this period at a time when gold stocks of every description are being propelled forward by the highest prices for the precious yellow metal ever seen. Year-to-date, the Euro Sun share price is up by nearly 70%. But with its rooting in a pro-mining European jurisdiction, ground-breaking state support, vast gold resource, and impressive institutional backing, this stock looks set to fly much higher.
Rare Metal Mining Mongolia huge gold and copper ore bodies discovered near Oyu Tolgoi
According to a recent statement issued by the company Rare Metal Mining, they discovered large gold and copper ore bodies near Oyu Tolgoi, in Mongolia.
The company recently signed a joint venture with MarketPeak and Rare Metal Mining after discovering large gold and copper ore body which covers a majority of the 2,398 hectares. The mining exploration license is located in South Mongolia within the same metallic belt as Oyu Tolgoi. Precisely the land is approximately 240 km from Oyu Tolgoi, which happens to hold the largest copper deposits in Asia.
Prime Mongolian Resources group of companies focuses on flipping and developing mines and exploration licenses, now co-owns over 1% of all the mining exploration licenses in the territory of Mongolia.
With drillings expected to commence in 2021, agreements have been signed to support the local community needs. Also, its an effort to build the company’s brand reputation within the mining industry. Prime Mongolian Resources hopes to make its first Copper and gold extractions by 2023.
Mongolia lies among the top 30 resource-rich developing nations, according to a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The nation is also rated number 47 in the world based on political stability index, which puts it above countries such as Germany ranked 62, the USA at 69, and France at 88, according to a survey conducted by the World Bank in 2018.
Incredibly, the mining statistics are also in favor of Mongolia as it has one of the highest mining success ratios. From a total of 2,796 mines and exploration licenses between 2016 and 2019, only 617 failed either through being surrendered, canceled, or by expiring, according to the Petroleum Authority of Mongolia Statistics.
The current mines and explorations licenses cover a total area of 4.8% of Mongolia’s territory. And with the nation being one of the richest in natural resources, this leaves vast unexplored potential. According to government sources, the country’s untapped mineral wealth is worth around $1.3 trillion, consisting of Gold, Copper, Nickel, cobalt, oil, and other resources, which makes Mongolia an exciting market.
Interestingly, Mongolia’s mining fortune heavily depends on Chinese demand for copper, coal, and other resources, which account for over 90% of all its exports. For now, the outlook for commodity exporters looks promising in the near future as new mining projects begin to open up in the Asian nation.
According to UN Comtrade, in 2018, Copper was among the top two export commodities for Mongolia at an estimated $2 billion. And it’s the booming mining activities that are fueling the economic development of the nation with the Asian Development Bank expecting Mongolia’s GDP to grow at 6.1% in 2020, the highest in Asia.
Copper, gold, and other resource mining have also had a positive impact on the Mongolian economy as the nation has seen substantial labor shifts where citizens have moved from the agricultural sector to the mining, manufacturing, and construction sectors. Those that have moved to the capital have shifted from pastoral occupations to construction jobs and the service sectors. Others have seasonally worked in mines around the booming southern Gobi or in the capital.
Euro Manganese to develop a high-purity manganese production facility in Czech Republic
Euro Manganese is looking to develop a high-purity manganese production facility to reprocess tailings material from historic mining operations at Chvaletice that ran from the early 1900s through to 1975. As Euro Manganese advances feasibility studies at its wholly owned Chvaletice manganese project about 90 km east of Prague in the Czech Republic, it has also been lining up potential customers for planned output from its demonstration plant, which is projected to come online in late 2020.
So far, the company has queued up five prospective customers for about 55% of the planned demonstration plant capacity, and management hopes these early-stage customers will ultimately become long-term buyers from full-scale production down the road.
Since first looking at the project in 2015, Euro Manganese has undertaken studies on the size of the resource and its extraction potential (running a pilot-scale test operation). In early 2019, the company announced the results of a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for the project that showed an after-tax net present value of US$593 million using a 10% discount rate.
The PEA models a project operating life of 25 years producing 1.2 million tonnes of high-purity electrolytic manganese metal (HPEMM), of which two-thirds is expected to be converted into high-purity manganese sulphate monohydrate (HPMSM) powder.
The study forecast US$404 million in pre-production capital, US$24.8 million in sustaining capital, and US$31 million in working capital, with a post-tax internal rate of return of 22.6% and a 4.9-year payback. The project’s economics were based on an average HPEMM (containing 99.9% manganese) price of US$4,617 per tonne and HPMSM (containing 32% manganese) price of US$2,666 per tonne over the life of the operation.
“The pilot plant tests were a resounding success,” Marco Romero, Euro Manganese’s president and CEO, said in an interview. “We produced high-purity manganese products of a quality that has not been seen before by the market — the highest-purity products in the world right now.”
The project hosts measured and indicated resources of 27 million tonnes grading 7.3% total manganese (5.9% soluble manganese), with 98% of the resource tonnes in the measured category.
The resource is contained in three above-ground tailings cells from past operations, with indications that the manganese is homogeneously distributed throughout the tails. About 80% of the manganese occurs in carbonate form as rhodochrosite and kutnohorite, which is beneficial as it is readily leachable in the extraction process and requires no calcination, unlike manganese oxide ore.
“The vast majority of our target market is very much the lithium-ion battery industry, and there are also other customers that need very high-purity inputs for specialty steel products, such as hydrogen storage tanks, and for hybrid vehicle anodes, and also for ferrite permanent magnets used in electric vehicles,” Romero said.
Often referred to as the forgotten battery metal, the outlook for high-quality manganese looks robust. Benchmark Minerals Intelligence, which specializes in battery material research, recently forecast demand growth for high-purity manganese will jump from 80,000 tonnes in 2020 to 370,000 tonnes in 2025, a more than 360% increase. Benchmark Minerals’ growth projections are just for the EV/cathode battery sector and do not incorporate demand from other sectors such as motor fabrication, anodes and specialty steels, aerospace aluminum-magnesium alloys, or beverage can stock.
Although it can be a significant component in lithium-ion batteries, manganese itself does not make up a big cost constituent. “Depending on the cathode chemistry it can be anywhere between 10% to a third of the cathode mass, but because it is a lower value product it can be as low as 1-2% of the cost of the battery,” Romero explained.
Given its location in the Czech Republic, a member of the European Union, the company has a natural target market throughout the continent. “We stand to become the only primary producer of high-purity manganese products in Europe,” Romero said. “There is no other deposit [in Europe] even remotely close to this scale and quality.”
Euro Manganese says it is working on setting up a supply chain qualification process with several customers.
“We’re currently in the middle of a feasibility study, which we expect to complete by year end, and we’re months away from filing our project notification that is the start of the environmental assessment process for the full-stage project,” he said.
Approximately 95% of global high-purity manganese product is produced in China, where several projects have been built recently or are under construction.
Euro Manganese has tapped into that Chinese expertise in the sector and established strategic relationships with three firms.
CINF, the engineering arm of Aluminum Corp. of China (Chinalco), undertook a prefeasibility study on Chvaletice that ultimately turned into the company’s PEA.
The company is also partnered with Changsha Research Institute for Mining and Metallurgy (CRIMM), a research arm of China Minmetals, on all its lab and test work, including pilot plant construction. CRIMM has also been awarded the contract for the building, delivery and commissioning of the Chvaletice demonstration plant for a fixed price of US$2.5 million.
Euro Manganese recently appointed BGRIMM Technology Group (BGRIMM), a division of Beijing General Research Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, as lead process plant engineer for the Chvaletice feasibility study, which commenced in October 2019.
Data from the BGRIMM-led feasibility study has started to trickle out with recently reported magnetic separation test results of about 85% total manganese recovery and a 15% total manganese concentrate grade, supporting the proposed process flow sheet for the operation. Additionally, deep purification confirmation tests also verified previous test findings, with the successful removal of target product impurities.
Capital and one-year operating costs needed to complete Euro Manganese’s demonstration plant are expected to reach about US$5 million. The company’s latest financials indicate a current funding gap, showing just over $2 million in the treasury.
Romero reports that the company is evaluating several near-term funding options. In addition, the company says it anticipates entering into offtake agreement negotiations with its high-purity manganese customers to support project financing for the commercial development of the project.
Euro Manganese is covered by two mining analysts. Anoop Prihar, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus Canada (previously GMP Securities), has a speculative buy rating on the company with a target price of $1.00 per share, while Canaccord Genuity mining analyst Larry Hill has a target price of A$1.10 on the stock.
At press time in Toronto, Euro Manganese traded at 12¢ per share, near the lower range of its 9.5¢ to 28¢ one-year trading range, giving the company a market capitalization of $21 million.
Tethyan Resource Corp. to purchase Kizevak and Sastavci silver-zinc-lead mines in Serbia
Tethyan Resource Corp. made an agreement to purchase a 100% ownership stake in Serbian company EFPP d.o.o. EFPP is the holder of two exploration licences over silver-zinc-lead mines Kizevak and Sastavci in the Raska district of Southwestern Serbia.
-The Licences are contiguous with Tethyan’s existing exploration rights and the acquisition would complete the consolidation of a district of known silver-zinc-lead vein-type and copper-gold porphyry deposits, presenting numerous strategic advantages:
-The Licences include two past-producing open pit silver-zinc-lead mines and host significant historical mineral resources and reserves that were reported in accordance with Yugoslav GKZ reporting criteria and indicate excellent brownfield exploration potential
-At Kizevak, historic drilling and underground channel sampling data define mineralisation that is present from surface up to 200 metres depth and 1.2 kilometres in strike length that is open down dip and along strike, representing an immediate drill-ready target
-Staged acquisition payments allow Tethyan to focus funds on drilling
-Serbia is establishing itself as a recognised mining jurisdiction, attracting significant investment interest
Fabian Baker, Tethyan’s President and CEO, commented: “This acquisition is a key step in Tethyan’s strategy to consolidate a district of historical mines and exploration prospects in Serbia. The Kizevak project in particular gives Tethyan an immediate drill ready target, and we can now drill the 1.2 kilometres of strike length, reported to host historical resources, between the former open pit mine and Tethyan’s excellent 2018 drilling results. With Kizevak as a cornerstone project the many satellite exploration targets identified by historical drilling, all within a few kilometres of Kizevak, become relevant to a possible district-wide operation. The plan moving forward is for Tethyan to commence drilling of these high-grade silver-zinc-lead targets in parallel with advancing our two copper-gold porphyry projects at Rudnica and Kremice in the Raska district of Serbia.”
Kizevak is a past-producing mine reported to host considerable historic mineral resources, along-strike from which Tethyan drilled mineralization including 12 metres at 22.03% zinc, 10.29 % lead, 167 g/t silver and 0.18 g/t gold. The mine was operated as an open pit by the Serbian state between 1984 and 2000, ceasing operations due to conflict in the region. The project benefits from numerous infrastructure advantages including water, power, road and rail access all within 5 kilometres, and a local workforce with a long history of mining. Additionally, the land comprising the wider project area is designated for mining purposes under the Serbian State spatial plan, providing many permitting benefits and efficiencies.
Mineralisation at Kizevak comprises steeply dipping, southeast striking, structurally controlled lenses of quartz-carbonate-sulphide vein breccias and stockwork zones hosted in andesite volcanics. Historic drilling and underground sampling data indicate that mineralisation occurs over a strike length of at least 1.2 kilometres, between 1 and 30 metres wide, and up to 200 metres down dip. This dominant southeast striking trend is intersected by at least one perpendicular southwest striking mineralised structure, which is inferred as an important control on high grade shoots.
Mineralisation is open down dip and along strike to the northwest, southwest and southeast. In 2018 Tethyan drilled four drill holes on its wholly owned licence 1.2 kilometres along strike to the southeast of the mine that returned mineralized intervals including:
-12 metres at 22.03 % zinc, 10.29 % lead, 167 g/t silver, and 0.18 g/t gold for 35.09 % ZnEq (Hole KSEDD002, from 130 m)
-43 metres at 4.30 % zinc, 2.49 % lead, 26 g/t silver, and 0.21 g/t gold for 7.39 % ZnEq (Hole KSEDD001, from 193 m)
including 13.1 m @ 11.28 % zinc, 5.05 % lead, 57 g/t silver, and 0.32 g/t gold for 17.44 % ZnEq (from 221 m)
-0 m @ 4.35 % zinc, 2.14 % lead, 27 g/t silver, and 0.34 g/t gold for 7.37 % ZnEq (Hole KSEDD003, from 137 m)
Sastavci was also mined historically by open pit on a smaller scale than at Kizevak and represents a priority drilling target. Outcropping, steeply dipping, massive sulphide veins up to 5 metres wide are visible in the pit walls. Tethyan collected 65 rock-chip samples across the Sastavci area, which returned assays ranging from trace to >30 % zinc (over range), 7.1 % lead, 94.3 g/t silver and 0.47 g/t gold in the Sastavci pit. A historic resource estimate is reported in the Serbian geological archives.
Additionally, to the north of the Sastavci open pit Tethyan has defined a greater than 100 ppb gold in soil anomaly over 800 metres long and 400 metres wide in strongly silica altered volcanic rocks. Rock-chip sample assays range from trace to 3.7 g/t gold, representing a separate epithermal gold exploration target.
Historic Resource and Reserve Estimates
In 1994 the Yugoslav Geological Survey reported combined estimated mineral resources in GKZ compliant A+B+C1+C2 categories of 8Mt at 45 g/t silver, 5.06 % zinc and 2.96 % lead at Kizevak, Sastavci and Karadak (a portion of the Kizevak resource, and Karadak are located on Tethyan’s existing licences).
The mineral resource estimates were reported by the state geological survey according to Yugoslav GKZ guidelines and do not comply with NI 43-101 reporting requirements and associated CIM definition standards. The authors caution that a qualified person has not done sufficient work to validate the historical estimates, and Tethyan is not treating the historical estimates as current mineral resources or reserves. Tethyan has not completed a detailed review of the historical resource or completed a new mineral resource estimate.
The historical resource estimates were completed using the polygonal method using data acquired from diamond drilling and underground sampling.
For readers not familiar with Yugoslav mineral estimates, such estimates were always stated as “reserves” and classified according to the A+B+C1+C2 or “alphabetical” classification, which was derived from the Russian system and is still applied throughout many countries in southeast Europe. The reserves had to be approved by the official Commission for Ore Reserves. The A, B, C1 and C2 categories reflect the levels of confidence in the actual tonnage exploited from a reserve, with confidence levels being – 95%, 80%, 70% and 35% respectively. Henley (2004) and others have evaluated the alphabetical classification system with respect to the compliant codes in Canada and Australia, and concluded that A+B is comparable to “measured”, C1 to “indicated” and C2 to “inferred” in internationally acceptable codes for reporting resources. However, these comparisons are only an approximation, and cannot be considered as equivalents.
To verify the historical resource estimate as current mineral resources or mineral reserves, drilling, mapping, detailed geological interpretation, geological modelling, grade mapping by interpolation using geostatistical analysis and mineral resource classification, using industry standard software, is required.
Terms of EFPP Acquisition
Closing of the transaction to acquire EFPP is subject to satisfactory due diligence and TSX acceptance on or before 15th April 2020. The acquisition of EFPP will occur in two steps, an initial ‘First Closing’ whereby Tethyan will acquire 10% of the shares of EFPP and management control of the company, and a 12 month period in which to decide, in its sole discretion, whether to proceed to a ‘Second Closing’ when Tethyan has the right to acquire the remaining 90% of the shares of EFPP. A summary of the terms of the Transaction is as follows:
In consideration for 10% of the shares of EFPP Tethyan will pay to the Sellers a total of EUR 625,000 cash on the First Closing.
At any time within 12 months of First Closing, Tethyan may elect to acquire the remaining 90% of shares of EFPP on the Second Closing by:
Paying EUR 1,375,000;
Granting to the Sellers a 2% Net Smelter Return over the Licences;
Issuing a total of 4 million ordinary shares of Tethyan, to be issued in four equal tranches of 1 million shares, with the first tranche issued on the Second Closing and each additional tranche issued each six months thereafter;
Paying a deferred cash payment of EUR 500,000 on the two-year anniversary of First Closing.
International mining companies in North Macedonia face resistance from local initiatives
Taught by examples of environmental and social harms that international mining companies leave behind in the Balkans, local communities in North Macedonia have opposed the creation of new gold and copper mines. The awards granted under the VMRO-DPMNE mandate were one of the cornerstones of attracting foreign direct investment. However, the municipalities did not accept this model.
Cities in North Macedonia have recently become the center of self-organized movements by locals, who have opposed international mining projects in the country. They share the same fears: that concessions for geological exploration and exploitation will result in catastrophic environmental and social consequences with marginal benefits for local communities, but also for the country as a whole.
It was not known exactly how many concessions were awarded under the term of former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, but at least 80 concessions were granted after 2012, when a new law was adopted, with the aim of increasing investment in the mining sector. At the time, it was clear that concessions were being divided as part of a strategy of attracting foreign direct investment.
After the change of government, we learned that 378 operating concessions were issued. The new regulation shortened and simplified procedures for obtaining mining licenses and concessions, but, more importantly, ensured the almost automatic conversion of mining exploration permits into exploitation permits, meaning that excavation work began automatically.
The situation has not changed much with the advent of the new government in May 2017, so the consequences of mineral exploitation remain the sole concern of the locals and activists. At one point, a wave of calls for local referendums seized the state, aimed at confronting politicians with this problem, and at the same time preventing or delaying the work.
The first successful referendum was held on April 23, 2017 in Gevgelija in southeastern Macedonia, at which the population voted against the opening of a gold and copper mine at two locations on Mount Kozuf. Excavation concessions were awarded to Canadian firm Nevsun Resources LTD.
The Salvation for Gevgelia initiative quickly gained the support of almost the entire municipality. According to activists, the success of the referendum in Gevgelija means that this company will not be able to turn its exploration license into a concession for the exploitation of ores. The first one is about to expire, but, they were still able to submit a request for its conversion into an exploitation concession. However, this request should be automatically rejected because of the result of the referendum, which obliges the municipal authorities to give a negative opinion to all the mines in Gevgelija.
A successful referendum in Gevgelija (turnout was 70%, 99% of which was against) prompted similar local initiatives, so two more successful referendums were held, in Bogdanci on June 11, 2017, with voter turnout of 61% and 98% of votes against. The third successful referendum was held in Dojran (51% turnout, of which 91% voted against). The referendums that followed in Bosilov, Valandov and Novo Selo failed because of low turnout.
However, given that mining companies have already invested enormous resources in the pre-excavation work, it is possible that this is just an instant obstruction.
Namely, part of these funds may be diverted to initiatives to continue mining operations.
The Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning emphasized that “the referendum does not have the binding legal power to stop projects that have already been licensed.” However, in the context of widespread corruption, the public has every right to question, even in a judicial way, the entire concession procedure, because the environmental and social consequences are too great to withdraw from a referendum based only on statements from the Ministry and the company.
However, as Minister of Economy Driton Kuchey explains, if the referendum is successful and lawsuits are filed to withdraw already granted concessions, both the legislative framework and case law will benefit the concessionaire. Despite favoring dealers, mining companies still appear to be threatened by widespread social mobilization. Two weeks after the Gevdelija referendum, Anglo-Ukrainian company Sardich MC issued a statement threatening to sue Angel Nakov – one of the most prominent activists of the Spas for Gevdelija initiative – accusing him of pointing out “false risks” over the Kazandol mine project. The real motive behind this retaliation is to halt further mobilizations, which could prevent similar projects under exploration license.
Kazandol and Illovica-Stuka mining projects
In the case of Kazandol, a concession fee of only € 45,000 a year has already been awarded in 2015 to Sardich MC, and construction work has begun to open the mine. It should be mentioned here that one of the directors of Sardich MC, Aco Spasenoski, was the Minister of Agriculture in the Gruevski government, which illustrates the close ties of domestic politicians to international capital.
Once an exploitation concession was once issued (as in the cases of Ilovica and Kazandol), little can be done to revoke it, as in that case, arbitration lawsuits could be brought against Macedonia and huge financial penalties could be imposed on it.
However, to the locals, the price of these penalties is less important than their own health and access to food and water, so this threat is not an obstacle to reinforcing resistance to mine opening.
According to a local initiative, SOS Valdanovo said they were “extremely aware of the difficulty of fighting the opening of new mines” but that they had “no intention of giving up their demands”. Their fight came to fruition in 2018, when the government withdrew a concession to exploit gold, copper and silver to Sardich MC for the Kazandol mine.
Another major mining project is Ilovica-Stuka, for which an exploitation concession was issued to Canadian-British company EuroMax Resources. They own two concessions for an area of 20 square kilometers, for which they only pay € 55,000 a year. As in other cases, the local community is organizing itself against this project, despite the fact that an exploitation permit has already been issued.
However, in the case of Ilovica, the authorities and concessionaires emphasize the safety of the project, and argue that the project involves the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which sets high environmental and social standards. The EBRD’s role in this project is twofold: they are both creditors and shareholders, as the EBRD owns 19.9% of Euromax, which would mean that one of the bank’s goals is a high return on investment rather than the social interests of North Macedonian citizens.
While there was no response from the Government, local grassroots initiatives were growing. Citizens of the Southeast Region organized two initiatives: “Zdrava Kotlina” and “Youth Against the Death Mine Stuk-Ilovica”. Protests were staged in April and May 2019, despite threats from Euromax sent to activists, including warnings to file lawsuits for posting on social media.
In 2019, the situation with the Ilovica-Stuka mine remains unresolved. According to activist Mitko Ristomanov, the government can use non-compliance with contractual terms as an argument for revocation of a mining concession: “Due to insufficient and incomplete project documentation, Euromax missed the last deadline for obtaining the necessary permits. The deadline expired on July 24, 2016, which means that their activities over the last three years are illegal. Also, the deadline for the completion of the mine, July 24, 2019, has passed.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that since May 2019, after the purchase through a private offer, the concession for the Ilovica-Stuka mine has changed its ownership structure. It is no longer owned by Euromax, but by Galena Resource Equities Limited, which is a subsidiary of Trafigura, embroiled in several controversies, including the illegal export of toxic waste from Amsterdam and the attempt to cover up an African environmental disaster. How this case develops will depend on the steps taken by the new owner, but also on the willingness and ability of the Government to act in response to the local population’s opposition to the mine, bearing in mind the negative impact it would have on agriculture in the region, as well as the wider environmental impact middle.
Environmental risks and possible different economic models
Residents have been called for a referendum by pointing out too high environmental risks, such as three kilometers wide and 700 meters deep craters, or the risks of pollution of drinking water sources that power the nearby towns of Kavadarci and Negotino.
Given the 10 tons of dust that the mines dump into the atmosphere on a daily basis, the danger also included air pollution by toxins, such as arsenic and thallium (required to extract ores from the rocks), then the production of 15 million square feet of sludge containing cyanide, arsenic and sulfuric acid. All this would not be easy and easy to repair without even greater environmental impact.
Among the most risky is the process of cyanization, that is, rinsing gold with sodium cyanide, which is the most widespread method for processing gold. Entry of this compound into the ground or groundwater causes irreparable damage as the soil and water become completely poisonous and unusable to humans and animals.
An example of cyanide soil poisoning was seen in 2000 in the case of the Baia Mare mine in Romania, when 10,000 cubic meters of cyanide-rich industrial wastewater was pumped into the soil. Chemicals have seeped into groundwater and poisoned agricultural land and drinking water for 2.5 million people in Serbia and Hungary, killing hundreds of tons of fish in the Somes, Tisa and Danube rivers.
Even the often pointed arguments of job creation should be taken with a dose of restraint. Of the 13,500 workers announced, 2,175 workers are currently employed in mining operations in North Macedonia.
Nevsun Resources LTD, a Canadian company hoping to build a mine near Gevdelija, has faced allegations made by the Guardian over “forced labor, dire working conditions and an atmosphere of fear and intimidation” at the Bisha mine in Eritrea, which is majority-owned the owner.
Another argument against mining projects is an alternative economic model that could ensure sustainable development in these regions.
For example, the city of Dorjan is located near a lake whose summer tourism potential is often highlighted as a possible economic model for the development of the area. Winter tourism could be developed in the area of Kozhuf Mountain. Valdanovo, Bogdanci and Gevgelija are agricultural areas with a Mediterranean climate and awareness of the importance of organic farming. With the aim of developing organic agriculture, more than a billion denars of subsidies have already been invested in the area, which would completely fail if the mine were opened due to environmental pollution.
In any case, employment can be taken as an advantage only if one considers the working conditions and the immediate and long-term health consequences of workers exposed to a substance such as cyanide.
Anti-mining struggles during the tenure of Zoran Zaev’s government and the SDSM
Of the 200 exploration and exploitation concessions issued by the previous government, in June 2019, only 14 licenses were started by mining operators. The 14 concessions are owned by Euromax Resources, a Bulmak company – licensed for lead and zinc in Zletov and Toranica, then Legura, which has a concession for manganese in Stogovo, for nickel in Veles, Lojani for antimony and iron in Tamjiste. In 2018, twelve dealers exploited minerals worth 180.8 million euros. Of that amount, only € 4.95 million, or 2.74%, was paid into the public budget for concession fees.
At the same time, mining companies made a profit of 38% or EUR 68.9 million. The share of the mining sector in the North Macedonian economy is 15% of industrial production and 1.5% of GDP.
Combating the exploitation of ores, as well as their outcomes, will serve as a mirror of the interactions between global capitalism and democracy in the country, but also as a test for the new SDSM government, which will have to balance in order to remain a social democratic party and devise a new model for attracting investment. which would be different from foreign direct investment in the mining sector.
Also, the role and perseverance of citizens in initiatives against such mining projects will continue to be crucial. They will combat the absolute priority of ore-driven economic growth (estimated GDP growth is 2%), to the detriment of environmental and social consequences, which are currently set as less significant.
Finally, this struggle should include arguments that will not give immunity to the government and local authorities if they fail to find alternative economic models that would develop society in a balanced way – that is, which would have positive environmental, social and political impacts.
Source: Climate and energy transition of the Balkans
Increasing concession fees for ores exploitation in North Macedonia
After six years, the North Macedonian Ministry of Economy has adopted a new tariff plan, which envisages an increase in concession fees for the exploitation of ores and geological resources. The new tariffs will apply from January 1, 2021. This decision means that more money will be poured into the budgets of the municipalities where coal, metallic raw materials, marble, granite, etc. are exploited.
One percent of the projected coal price is 780 denars (12.75 euros) per ton, instead of the current 600 denars (9.8 euros), or 3.900 denars (63.8 euros) per tonne of carbon dioxide and other gases, instead of the current 3,000 (€ 49.1). From each tonne of lead, zinc, copper, nickel or iron sold, the dealership will pay two percent to the state, and the same solution is retained here as in the current tariff system. For these metals, except for iron, the average price on the London Stock Exchange over the last three months will follow.
For the exploitation of precious and semi-precious stones, five percent of the value of the minerals sold will be paid, which is the same as it has been so far. The state will receive one percent from the sale of construction stone, assuming it costs MKD 390 (6.4 euros) per tonne instead of the current MKD 300 (4.9 euros). Mineral and groundwater drinking water will be charged one percent, assuming the selling price per liter of water is MKD 5.2 (EUR 0.09), instead of MKD 4 (EUR 0.07).
It also increases the concession area usage fee, to MKD 312,000 (EUR 5,100) per square kilometer for coal and other fossil fuels and MKD 234,000 (EUR 3,830) for metal ore, while quartz sand, marble and granite exploitation will cost MKD 130,000 (2,130 euro) per square kilometer. It will cost as much for sand and gravel, and for mineral water as MKD 156,000 (2,550 euros).
The fees for carrying out detailed geological surveys will also rise in price, amounting to MKD 156,000 (EUR 2,550) for energy minerals as well as for metallic minerals, while currently they amount to EUR 2,000.
Economy Minister Kresnik Bektesi launched an initiative to change the tariff system for paying concession fees a year ago. Comparative analysis with countries in the region and EU countries showed that fees should be increased.
Collection will start from 2021, as concessionaires’ budgets and investment plans for this year have already been prepared.
There are currently 362 concession contracts for surface and underground exploitation in North Macedonia.
JSC Pavlik, Russia, new gold processing plant
The planned 7 Mt/y plant will operate alongside the highly successful processing plant supplied by FLSmidth in 2013-14. FLSmidth will supply equipment across the complete flowsheet, including materials handling, flotation, gravity concentrators, screens, gold leaching, dewatering, pumps, cyclones, valves, instruments and reagent systems.
FLSmidth will supply a new gold processing plant to JSC Pavlik in the Magadan region in the east of Russia. The order, valued at around DKK 290 million, has become effective and will be booked in Q1 of 2020. The order also includes a complete plant electrical and automation package.
The contract follows the successful partnership with JSC Pavlik for Line 1, for which FLSmidth designed and supplied all the main process equipment. This single-source approach for the original plant proved very successful for the customer and the new order reflects their satisfaction with FLSmidth and the results to date. “We are delighted to receive this order from JSC Pavlik and the Arlan Group,” comments Manfred Schaffer, Mining President, FLSmidth. “Receiving a repeat order with a prominent miner reflects the importance that FLSmidth puts on the development of state-of-the-art mining equipment and into maintaining a close partnership with our customers throughout the full lifecycle of a mine. The order is a clear indication of the customer’s satisfaction with FLSmidth as the single-source supplier of the original gold processing plant and our dedication in delivering productivity to the market.”
Artyom Bolshakov, Vice President of JSC Pavlik, adds: “We want to thank FLSmidth’s team for the hard, detailed work that was completed throughout the timeline of the order. We are familiar with FLSmidth’s equipment since the start of Pavlik and we trust their quality and transparency.”
FLSmidth was awarded the engineering contract in 2019 and, following this new contract, the equipment supply will commence in Q4 2020. The plant is expected to commence operation in late 2021 or early 2022.
Zijin Company in Bor, environmental issues lead to court in Serbia
The Ministry of the Environment initiated proceedings against Zijin Bor Copper for the release of hazardous substances into the air in November 2019 and January 2020. The ministry has controlled the company several times, and at least five times it has identified failures since the mining basin was privatized in late 2018. While the authorities shift responsibility to each other, the lives of 45,000 Bor citizens are endangered.
At the end of one working week, an employee at Zidjin, formerly RTB Bor, waited for an unpleasant surprise at the door of the administration building – their fellow citizens whistled and shouted: “You betrayed the city. ” With the support of residents of the surrounding towns and political activists, on November 15, 2019, part of Bor residents protested over months because of pollution coming from the mining basin. With the message “Our Health or Your Profit” and with face masks, the Chinese investor was asked to reduce production volumes and thus the air pollution that suffocates them.
“Sulfur dioxide directly damages the health,” Dr. Dragica Radosevic addressed the event. Heavy metals such as arsenic, which can also lead to malignant tumors, are even more dangerous, he explains.
Katarina Vaskovic, a protest participant, complained to the media that life in Bor was quarantined.
“Our children live in quarantine, we can only take them outside when we estimate that there is not so much smoke. Every other kid in the neighborhood gets an asthma pump, ”Vaskovic said.
The protesters supported the speakers for a full two hours.
However, on the day of the protest, Bor was not contaminated. The air did not scratch his throat, and eyes did not tear, as Bor residents otherwise claim, and there was no need to close into homes. Local clean air is explained by the decline in Zidjin’s production of copper and precious metals – because of protests and television cameras.
Data obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting in Serbia (CINS) confirms that there was no excessive pollution on the day of the protests, as well as for the next five days, but then came back – stronger than the Air Protection Act allows.
One week after the protest, environmental inspector Emila Tosic visited Zidjin and found that sulfur dioxide (SO2) concentrations had gone up to 4.6 times the statutory limits during those two days, November 21 and 22. In some hours, the amount of SO2 in the air was 8.3 times higher than allowed, according to the inspector’s report. SO2 is a gas of sharp odor that causes frequent coughing and pharyngeal irritation. It is the cause of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and is most harmful to children, the elderly and people with chronic lung diseases.
Pollution was measured just a five-minute walk from the mining pool gate, at a station maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) in the city park.
In January 2020, the inspection controlled Zidjin and found the same omissions, the documentation obtained by CINS shows.
Due to the release of hazardous substances into the air and the company did nothing to reduce pollution, the proceedings before the Commercial Court in Zajecar against the company Zidjin and the deputy head of the TIR branch causing the problem, Boban Todorovic. They are charged with an economic offense for which a fine of between 1.5 and 3 million dinars has been imposed, and the court can impose a sentence commensurate with the damage done.
Nataša Djereg from the NGO Center for Environment and Sustainable Development (CEKOR) believes that such punishment does not help:
“Our fines are ridiculous – of course it pays for all polluters to continue to pollute, especially at such large plants, to pay the fine and move on. A fine is not a measure, the penalty would be to stop production. ”
Former head of the TIR branch, Paun Jankovic, in an interview with CINS, said stopping production was not in the interest of the majority owner – currently China’s state-owned Zijin International Finance Company Limited (63%), while the Serbian government is the second largest co-owner with 36.9%. Cessation of work means less income, but it can affect problem solving, Jovanovic explains:
“There are technical solutions – to urgently eliminate the causes of this bad show. If necessary, stop production for a week, two weeks, mechanically repair what is needed and then go back to normal. ”
Zijin’s earlier omissions
This is not the first time that Zijin, formerly RTB Bor, has not adhered to the rules. Since the privatization of the mining basin, in December 2018, Inspector Tosic has noticed at least five times various omissions.
As early as April 2019, the inspector had ordered the company to take action against air pollution of the environment, human health and the environment, because it emitted excessive SO2, reports CINS reported. Zijin then explained in a letter to the Ministry of Environment that the power outage had caused pollution.
However, control a few months later, in August, showed another omission – Zijin did not have a system for wet dust removal during the transportation of tailings on the Bor mine, which also threatened human health and the environment. Zijin was ordered to solve the problem, and the company later told the Ministry that a dust suppression system had been installed, which was put to trial.
In November 2019, CINS sought an interview with Zidjin on the topic of air pollution, to which the company responded with a press release. It says that by the end of the year, the company will have a total of five SO2-neutralized dust spray machines. Documentation obtained by CINS shows that by that time, two of the machines purchased had been in operation for about two months, but pollution data showed that it had no significant effect on the reduction of sulfur dioxide – in October the number of days with more SO2 in the air it was slightly smaller.
Zijin announces other investments – a dust and exhaust gas collection plant, and by the end of 2021 the construction of an additional facility to ensure that “the emission of gases is always and fully in line with the prescribed standards”.
Bor residents are not satisfied with communication with the Ministry, as they do not receive answers on measures taken to reduce air pollution.
From a recording of a phone conversation between activist and chairman of the Dveri District Committee, Sasa Stankovic, with Aleksandar Blagojevic of the Ministry’s inspection sector, posted by Bor activists in October 2019 on Facebook page 1 of 5 million Bor, it appears that the inspection does not go out on the field exploration at all but to notify Zijin about the pollution by phone as part of the procedure.
Blagojevic explained that the inspector “called the company and told them that there were exceedances of one-hour values and that they should reduce production or put more fresh raw material than slag.” He also stressed that there is a legal obligation for the City of Bor to adopt a Short-term Action Plan that specifies when Zijin should stop production for several hours or days.
From Municipality they say the Short-term Action Plan has nothing to do with the work of the Republic Inspectorate.
“The inspectors are known to work. When any accident occurs, the inspector goes out to see what is going on, the real record, measures are taken regardless of the Short-term Action Plan. We will see when we come up with a Plan, how much we will be able to influence the work of the company, “said Ljiljana Lekic of the City of Bor’s Environmental Protection Office.
She explained that they started drafting the Plan and that representatives of local environmental associations, including those organizing protests, are involved. Still, Lekic says the plan will only provide guidance for solving the problem.
Toplica Marijanovic, formerly Deputy Director of Environmental Protection at RTB, says the action plan is not binding, and even the inspector cannot ask the polluter to implement it.
“This is an effort for the Ministry, or the state, to shift all responsibility for the state of air quality to local self-government, and local self-government has no power or ability to react in any way in industrial and mining facilities for which the state license is issued,” Marijanović said.
In the meantime, pollution is still present in Bor. SEPA issued a warning that they were dangerous to human health on January 24 and 26 due to the concentration of SO2 at two measurement sites.
While Aleksandar Milikic, Bor Mayor and SNS official, says the pressures are political because the protest is led by Alliance for Serbia member and Dragan Djilas associate, Irena Zivkovic, she, along with three other activists, including Sasa Stankovic from of the Dveri movement, in late November, filed criminal charges against the director of Zijin Bor Koper, Long Ji, the mayor of Bor, and the Minister of the Environment, Goran Trivan.
The Ministry did not respond to CINS’s questions regarding local government control over the adoption of the Short-term Action Plan, or whether it would be able to order production to be halted in Zidjin.
New owner – new pollution
According to the regulations, SO2 in one measuring point may be exceeded only three days a year. It has not been respected in Bor for years. The metering station in the city park, near the mining basin, showed SO2 pollution for an average of five months in 2014, to a total of 13 days by 2018, and then jumped to 40 with a Chinese investor, SEPA data shows.
The findings of the Bor Mining and Metallurgy Institute’s 2018 report are not encouraging. There were more than allowed SO2 and harmful PM10 particles on an annual basis, most commonly affecting blood and respiratory diseases. Arsenic was 24 times more than allowed in Bor. Pollution in Serbia is in many places above the legal limit.
High concentrations of pollutants affect the health of Bor residents.
About two-thirds of pre-school children and half under the age of 18, who in 2014-2018 sought the help of a doctor, had problems with their respiratory organs. They most often suffered from sore throat and tonsils, according to data on the health status of residents of the town of Bor published by the Institute for Public Health Timok in Zajecar.
These inflammations are the second most common disease in adults, with nine cases in every 100 inhabitants.
Although dominant, these diseases have a slight downward trend over the five-year period, coupled with declining production of the mining basin and a decrease in air pollution.
After the privatization of RTB Bor, pollution increased again.
Medgold exploration and the value of ore wealth in Serbia
The expansion of mining activities in Serbia is currently increasing. Exploitation of copper, lead, zinc, silver and gold is widely spread.
Experts in the field point out that it is important that, in parallel with the opening of the mines, a supporting industry is developed to maximize the benefits of the raw material itself, and that it is noticeable that far greater attention is being paid to environmental protection in the mining sector than it was the case earlier.
Miroslav Ignjatovic of the Association for Energy and Mining of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce tells Tanjug that there are 200 exploitation and 127 exploration fields in Serbia, where extensive research is being done.
Canadian discovery at the border
The latest news that has emerged these days is that Canadian research firm Medgold risorsiz confirmed results of rich ore deposits.
They previously indicated that they found excellent indicators in southern Serbia at the border with Bulgaria and Macedonia that rich deposits of precious metals are in the area
The company said they found about seven million tonnes of ore, with about 680,000 ounces, or 19.3 tonnes of gold, worth just over $ 1 billion in just one project site called “Tlamino”, and investigations continue.
Ignjatovic points out that this news is an encouragement for the development of the mining sector in Serbia, but it will depend on further geological testing whether there are realistic conditions for a more serious mining project. He states that a clearer picture of the prospect of the reservoir itself will be obtained in the coming period, and points out that it is noticeable that far more attention is paid to environmental protection in the mining sector this year.
“The Mining Waste Cadastre project, which lasted for three years, provided Serbia with a clear picture of this waste, which is the basis for analyzing the environmental situation and planning further steps to address the issue of this waste,” said Ignjatović.
Also, in terms of investment, Ignjatovic says that in the next three years, the highest level of investment is expected in the Chukaru Peki mine, the Jadar project, as well as investments in the Bor pits now owned by Zidjin company.
“We should not forget the development of surface mines in the branch of RB Kolubara, which in the coming period will represent the basis for a stable electric power system of Serbia and the production of energy from thermal capacities,” he added.
Otherwise, it is estimated that about two percent of Serbia’s GDP belongs to the mining sector. By structure, about 90 percent of the estimated two percent of GDP is made up of energy minerals, coal, oil and natural gas, as well as copper as a metallic mineral resource. The rest of the structure is made from lead and zinc and non-metallic minerals, mainly stone aggregate, sand and gravel and raw materials for the cement industry.
A bright future
Experts at the Geological Survey of Serbia state that the future of this branch in Serbia is certainly bright. Geologist Predrag Mijatovic says that significant investments are still needed.
“Investing in metallic raw materials research is very time consuming and it is not a process that can be completed in a year or two, it takes seven to 10 years”, Mijatovic pointed out.
As for how Serbian ore is stationed by region, eastern Serbia is dominated by copper and gold, and sometimes lead and zinc. There are also uranium deposits on Stara Planina. In central Serbia, deposits of lead, zinc, uranium, as well as gold and silver are characteristic, according to Mijatovic.
In the western part of Serbia, in the Podrinje region, there are many deposits of antimony that are no longer exploited, and there are also lead and zinc, according to the Geological Survey. Nickel and chromium are found in several places in Serbia, especially in the central part, near Arandjelovac, Vrnjacka Banja, in the west in Mokra Gora, while chromium is found in Tara, Zlatibor, Deli Jovan, and bauxite (raw material for aluminum) in Tara, Zlatibor, near Pocuta and near Babusnica.
There are also deposits of non-metals as well as coal, and in Vojvodina there are deposits of gas and oil, as well as deposits of different types of clay.
In terms of reserves, the overall resources and reserves of lead and zinc, including the mines in Kosovo and Metohija, are estimated at close to 100 million tons and coal deposits at about ten billion tons, says Mijatovic. There are less reserves of brown coal, which is exploited underground, while, for example, gold reserves cannot be estimated accurately, but it is assumed to be around a few tens of tons of gold as a metal but outside the Bor deposits. Copper resources are estimated at several billion tons, both proven ore reserves and resources under exploration.
Experts at the Geological Survey of Serbia cite an example that the Trepča mine is at half the value of the estimated ore, or half of the balance reserves according to the exploitation trend. The Kosovo Basin is, as they say at the Institute, so rich in coal (lignite) that it could contribute to the smooth production of electricity over the next 150 years.
Otherwise, Serbia imports iron ore as well as higher quality coal (brown) for heating and industrial consumption (coal).