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China pledges to invest billions in Serbian copper and gold mine
China pledges to invest billions in Serbian copper and gold mine
by AFP Staff Writers
Belgrade (AFP) Sept 11, 2023

China is set to pour billions into a copper and gold mine in eastern Serbia, marking another dramatic increase in investment in the Balkan country by Beijing.

According to a memorandum of understanding signed over the weekend in China's Xiamen, Chinese state-owned company Zijin Mining will invest 3.8 billion dollars (3.5 billion euros) into the mining complex in the eastern city of Bor.

"Thanks to this memorandum (...) Serbia will align itself with Europe's largest copper and gold producers, but also create opportunities for new investments," said Dubravka Djedovic Handanovic, Serbia's minister of mines and energy, in a statement posted online.

In 2018, Zijin purchased a majority stake in the copper and gold mining operation in Bor following years of failed efforts by Belgrade to privatise the troubled operation.

Serbia's state mining company had once been a pillar of its industrial sector before the collapse of communist Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.

But it became a burden on the country's struggling economy because of mismanagement and international sanctions during the 1990s regime of late president Slobodan Milosevic.

Copper plays a key role in renewable energies and green technologies due to its thermal and electrical conductivity properties -- leading to a surge of investment in mining operations around the globe.

Beijing has invested billions in Serbia and neighbouring Balkan countries in recent years, hoping to expand its economic footprint in central Europe.

Serbia has been quick to cash in on China's interest, as it seeks to court a range of investors amid the ongoing tug of war between the East and West over influence in the Balkans.

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