The company Rio Tinto should complete the explorations and confirmation of the lithium reserves at the Jadar site near Loznica in late 2019 or early 2020, and the exploitation is expected to begin in three to four years, said the state secretary at the Ministry of Mining and Energy of Serbia, Stevica Dedjanski.
– Serbia will insist on this not being the usual excavation and export of the reserves, especially the reserves of something as valuable as lithium. Instead, we expect the processing to be carried out in Serbia and for new products to be made, which will have added value – Dedjanski said at the European Mining Academy in Belgrade.
He said that Rio Tinto worked very seriously and that they soon expected a report on the results of the explorations.
Dedjanski said that, between 2014 and 2018, a total of EUR 1 billion had been invested in mining in Serbia and that the investments planned for 2019 amounted to half a billion euros. In 2012, investments in geological explorations amounted to EUR 24 million, whereas in 2018, they amounted to EUR 100 million.
– The investments in the exploitation of mineral reserves are constantly increasing. In 2018 alone, the realized exploration investments amounted to USD 100 million, and they used to be at USD 25 million before – Dedjanski said.
He pointed out that the number of exploration fields was growing and that there were 163 active ones at the moment, of which 140 in central Serbia, whereas mineral reserves with the presence of metal are explored in 103 fields. As he added, this shows that mining companies are increasingly interested in Serbia and that all the necessary permits are issued quickly. As he pointed out, the process is corruption-free.
– At the World Mining Congress, Serbia was recognized as one of the countries with the biggest potential in this field, one of the four in Europe – Dedjanski said.
He said that the agreed investments of China’s Zijin, a co-owner of RTB Bor, in the exploitation of mineral reserves in the Bor basin were expected in 2020.
Zijin bought Nevsun, which is developing the Cukaru Peki project, and the exploitation of copper is expected to start in two years.
Last year, as he said, 42,000 tons of cathode copper and the facility’s own concentrate were produced at RTB Bor, and the production of 47,000 tons is expected this year. When Cukaru Peki opens, the production should amount to 200,000 to 250,000 tons a year.
– In the upcoming years, new mines will open, so the share of mining in the GDP might amount to 5% – Dedjanski estimated.
Swedish Ambassador to Serbia Jan Lundin said that Serbia had a great mining potential and that it should develop cooperation in mining not just with Sweden, but with the entire EU.
– The European industry needs ore, and Serbia has great supplies – Lundin said and cited lithium as an example. According to him, lithium is the future of the European auto-industry, as it can be used to produce batteries for electric vehicles.
As he pointed out, mining in Serbia is part of the answer where Europe will get ore from in the future.
– This is also a great economic potential for Serbia and the opening of new jobs – the Swedish ambassador said and added that Serbia was also on a good road in the sector of mining and that Sweden, as a country with a great mining tradition and one of the biggest producers of iron ore in Europe, had the potential to help Serbia in developing the technology and to work together with mining companies in Serbia.