Source: eKapija | Thursday, 23.03.2017.| 15:21
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In the cradle of Serbian mining - Exploration at Cukaru Peki near Bor make progress, opening of new copper mines as soon as possible in 2021 (PHOTO)

Mining in Bor district has a long history, and the Cukaru Peki copper and gold deposit where at this moment explorations have been done in order to determine on exploitation fesibility, might return former glory to the region.

If investigations and studies show positive results, exploitation and processing of copper ore could begin in 2021.

eKapije team visited Cukaru Peki, a site app. 6 km far from Bor, near the old civil airport.

This site is divided into upper and lower zone. As previous studies have shown, the upper zone is richer with ore. On the other hand, lower zone, with smaller fortune, is much greater. Canadian company Newsun holds 100% stake in the upper zone and is the contractor of the project. The lower zone is divided so that 46% has Newsun share, and 54% American Freeport. Both companies operate in Serbia through Rakita.

- We are currently developing Feasibility Study of the upper zone of the deposit, in order to determine technical, economic, social and environmental circumstances and assess profitability of mining and processing of copper and gold in this deposit - Timothy Livesey, Managing Director at Rakita says.

Study analysis showed the possibility of opening of underground mining of the upper zone at a depth of 450 to 850 meters, and the expected production is from three to four tons of ore, with an average copper content of 2.9 to about 1.7 grams per ton.

The project currently employs about 410 people (Rakita-workers and subcontracting companies) that are part of development and preparation of feasibility studies and other investigative activities. As stated in the company, 85% of workers engaged in the project are from Serbia. There was work also for our companies - in 2016, Rakita was using the services of 246 companies which were either engaged as subcontractors or source of supply of goods and services, 204 Serbian companies. Out of that percentage, 37% are companies registered in Bor.

- First, we try to partner with companies at the local level, which have competence for services and procurement of materials. Just in case that these companies cannot meet technical and operational requirements, we opt for foreign companies. Foreign companies must register with the local subsidiaries that operate through them, to ensure compliance with the Serbian Labor Law and other regulations - Rakita company communicate to eKapija.

At the moment Rakita has 23 active drilling sites in Cukaru Peka.

Mine facilites construction could start in two years

It is planned that all studies are completed by the end of 2018, when it will be decided whether to Bor will get the mine. If the answer is positive, construction of mining facilities and infrastructure will start in early 2019. It is expected that, then, ore processing from the upper zone could be completed no later than in 2021, while the mine would become operational later that year.

- During a two-year period, which is planned for construction, it is estimated that the number of workers will reach 1,200. We expect this number to keep at 600 during the operational stage of the mine upper zone. However, for more accurate data on the number of employees, additional analysis are required- our interlocutors say.

Mone construction will be preceded by a detailed regulation plan, which will define this area, relocate one street, and perhaps Bor Airport. Municipality will decide on this.

Mining and ore processing is estimated at approximately 12 to 15 years. The construction and exploitation, would be done by the so-called four-brigade system, seven days a week and 350 working days per year.

Incline

Access to the upper zone will be enabled through tunnels with gradients or inclines, which will be primarily used as an investigative incline – for sampling, for technological tests (with the aim of verifying cost effectiveness of further investment). Investigating incline will most likely consist of two parallel tunnels. The first tunnel will be primarily used for access to deposit, and the other one for ventilation.

- Unlike RTB, which has open pits, this will be underground mining – Rakita says.

It is assumed that copper concentrate, with a touch of gold, will be placed to the international market at valid prices.

Environmental Protection

- Tailings will be located close to ore processing facility. . It will be designed and built based on legislation and regulation effective in Serbia as well as on the basis of the best international practices for such projects – Rakita explained.

In order to meet Serbian and international standards, Rakita has hired Environmental Resources Management (ERM). Since 2015, ERM has been collecting basic data on environmental and social issues for Cukaru Peki to carry out a clear impact assessment. The study also comprises overview of the main alternatives that have been considered in order to achieve optimum design solution, taking into account social and environmental factors. Local companies will implement strategy ERM prepares.

- Our intention is that the impact on the environment is minimized and localized – Rakita explains.


Independent experts, together with the University of Belgrade, are currently conducting basic hydrological and technical assessment, so that impact of mining activities on water regime is minimal.

They state that RTB already impacts Borska reka and that their impact will not be any bigger.

Excavated ore at Info Center Rakita
Rakita will buy land from private owners on a voluntary basis, with the contract of sale of real estate.

Investor will pay land compensation at the full replacement value, including independent assessment of market value of the estate and the value of transactions, with the addition of premium or bonus.

Oscar in geology

Cukaru Peki site was discovered by Rakita in July 2012, with geologist Dejan Kozelj heading. They received international recognition in 2016 in Toronto, at a conference of the Canadian Association of Mining Research and Development (PDAC)when they were awarded a prize Thayer Lindsey for discovery of copper deposits received

- This award is like the Oscar in geology and shows how important this region is in mining – Rakita company stated.

For this award, last year, around 3,000 projects competed, which only proves the importance of finding of Cukaru Peki. Rakita is currently working with GEOPS Balkan Drilling Service, Capital Drilling, S & V Drilling Mine Services, Geomag, Engineering S, etc. when it comes to this project.

Sanja Sojic

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