A few years ago, two tons of gold came out of the smelter in this small town per season, but with the discovery of the Čukari Peku deposit and the opening of a new mine, things have changed significantly. Recently, another rich deposit was discovered near Žagubica, so it is not impossible for Serbia to surpass Bulgaria, with 5.6 tons of annual production of the European leader in the production of precious metal.
Serbia has no greater individual wealth than the Bor complex. The two most important resources available to the country in the hilly Balkans are of a general type, people and agricultural land. Admittedly, perhaps some of the lithium deposits will be more expensive in the future, but it remains to be seen what will become of the environmentally controversial exploitation and processing of this light metal. For now, the Bor copper deposit, in which gold, silver, selenium and platinum metals are also exploited as by-products, is our biggest single value.
It is therefore understandable that the public is interested in all the news in the Bor Basin, and of course, in the discovery of a new site at the location of Čoka Potaj, close to the nearby Žagubica. Previous research has confirmed that there are more than 80 tons of gold in this deposit, and the extraction efficiency would be as high as 93 percent. Like other deposits of gold-bearing reserves in Serbia, this is also part of a potential copper mine, the most abundant mineral raw material in the area.
In 80 locations
It is less known that Serbia is actually made of gold deposits. So far, more than 80 locations with reserves of “yellow metal” have been found, by far the most in the vicinity of Bor. In all cases, the metal, together with silver, platinum, palladium, is the content of the copper deposit. For now, there are no mines in Serbia whose primary raw material is gold, as there are in South Africa, Nevada, Uzbekistan, Ghana, Peru or Russia. The geology in our region is different, there are actually no “pure” gold mines even in Europe.
Most of the deposits are in eastern Serbia, but there are quite a few in the south and in the western part of the republic. However, it is rarely profitable to exploit. For now, these are only sites in eastern Serbia, primarily in the belt from Majdanpek to Bor, where exploitation began in 1903. Currently, Ziđin Cooper, the Serbian subsidiary of the Chinese Ziđin, has continued to extract gold from four inherited mines by purchasing the former RTB Bor. Found balance reserves are 153 tons of gold, which guarantees a long exploitation. Currently, along with around 73,000 tons of copper, two are being extracted, and the goal is to reach three tons of the yellow metal.
On the basis of long-term geological research by Yugoslav scientists, ten years ago a Canadian company found, and later sold the rights to Ziđin, the Čukari Peku deposit, which has extremely high potential. Only in the upper layer, for which the Chinese producer, through another local subsidiary, Zijin Mining, acquired exploitation rights, there are 1.25 million tons of copper and 81 tons of gold.
A hidden gem
Apart from eastern Serbia, gold is still extracted only in the Lesce mine in the southeast, primarily a deposit of lead and copper. It is estimated that there are about 12 tons of gold in western Serbia, the exploitation of which could be profitable in the event that the price of gold is in an even stronger upward trend for a long time.
However, the greatest potential is in the lower layer of the Čukari Peku site, where the estimated reserves are 345 kilograms of gold. It is interesting that there are 27 tons of “yellow metal” in the deposits of rivers and streams in this region, primarily in Pec. Former geological fortifications of around 300 tons of balance reserves have now increased to at least 600 tons. Real wealth for a small and relatively poor community.
The income is not only in five percent of the mineral rent. There is also the development of mines and processing capacities, the introduction and familiarization of the most modern technologies, the production of decorative objects, the scope of technologies in which copper is the main input, such as the production of cables and the production of ammunition. It is estimated that five times more workers are employed in the accompanying activities than in the mine itself. Along with such an economic complex goes the development of the transport network, both road, even more railway and port. After all, RTB Bor developed and is the biggest user of the port in Kladovo or the Zaječar-Niš railway.
An air of hope
Each mine, especially if, as in the case of Bor, it also develops certain stages of processing, is a very strong company. Thus, in 2020, Ziđin Cooper earned 698 million dollars, of which 441.3 million came from the sale of 70,600 tons of copper.
Ten million was earned by exporting 15.4 tons of silver, while seven million were cashed out by the Swiss buying 11 kilograms of platinum and 100 kilograms of palladium. By selling 2,054 kilograms of gold to the National Bank of Serbia, Ziđin Kuper earned close to 116 million dollars.
When it is known and has a wider approach to work, the mine is a colossal economic resource, a development engine of the local community. That is why the news of a new finder of copper and gold is the most pleasant thing that has happened to the inhabitants of Serbia in recent times, especially to those from the eastern regions, for whom the Bor company is by far the biggest support.
The plan is to extract three tons of gold and 50,000 tons of copper annually, which would satisfy the capacity of the Bor smelter.