The main asset of the Serbian economy in the upcoming years might be mining, if new, substantial amounts of gold, silver, copper, lithium and other metals are discovered at one of the 127 locations in Serbia currently being explored by international companies.
The strategic partnership of RTB Bor with China's Zijin, the acquisition of Zelezara Smederevo by HBIS Group and the information that the Canadian exploration company Medgold Resources has recently discovered a rich layer with large amounts of gold and silver on the border with Bulgaria and Macedonia, shows, as experts claim, that better days are coming for the Serbian mining.
Around 25 companies in Serbia are currently caught in a “mining fever”, and around EUR 60 million was invested in ore explorations last year alone.
However, geological explorations, aside from being expensive and taking a long time, don't mean that the ore mining will begin here, as the opening of a mine is preceded by years of calculations and analyses of the cost-effectiveness of the project.
Miroslav Ignjatovic of the Association for Energy and Energy Mining at the Chamber of Commerce of Serbia says for Tanjug that one of the most important investments in mining in Serbia is the Cukaru Peki site near Bor.
– During the exploitation period at Cukaru Peki, Serbia and Bor will have a direct benefit of USD 450 million through taxes and the mining fee – Ignjatovic says.
He also mentions the explorations of Rio Tinto and the Jadar project near Loznica, where one of the world's largest sites of the jadarite mineral, from which lithium is extracted, is located. The estimate is that the lithium from Serbia will make up 10% of the global production and more than 90% of the European production.
Considering the development of the electric car industry in the world and the fact that electric car batteries require lithium, Serbia might become an important player in the production of electric cars, buses and bicycles in the upcoming years.
The Geological Survey of Serbia believes that there is a bright future for the Serbian mining thanks to these resources. However, for this to be realized, large investments need to be made, geologist Predrag Mijatovic says for Tanjug.
– Investments in explorations should be made in the long term. It is not a process that can be completed in a year or two. Instead, it requires seven to ten years – Mijatovic says.
The aim of the Government of Serbia is for mining to make up 5% of the GDP and it will be achieved in the upcoming years, Dominic Roberts, the operations director at Mineco LTD, which has mines in Serbia and B&H, stated recently.