Serbia is a relatively small land-locked country in south-eastern Europe, approximately one third the size of the UK with a population of just over 7 million people. It shares borders with Bulgaria and Romania to the east, Hungary to the north, Macedonia and Albania to the south, and Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro to the west. After the political turmoil that swept the Balkans following the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1980s and 1990s, the country has finally stabilized and Serbia officially applied for membership of the EU in 2009.
Mining has always been an important part of the Serbian economy. In 2013, mining and quarrying accounted for 2% of the GDP and employed over 22,000 people. The industry produces primarily copper, iron and steel with significant production of gold, lead, coal, salt and selenium. For many decades the largest mining operation in the country has been the State-owned Rudarsko Topionicki Bazen Bor (“Bor”) copper-gold mine.
In the last few years, there’s been a huge increase in interest in Serbia’s mineral potential following Reservoir Minerals’ discovery of high-sulphidation copper-gold mineralization at Cukaru just south of Bor. Medgold joins other companies with relevant base and precious metals exploration projects engaged in Serbia, including Canadian company Dundee Precious Metals Inc., Nevsun Resources Ltd., Tethian Resources Ltd., In addition, the major miners Rio Tinto are working in the country under JV’s with third parties.
The country’s metal endowment results from its geological setting straddling the Alpine-Balkan-Carpathian-Dinaride metallogenic-geodynamic province. The province forms part of the Tethyan, or Alpine-Himalayan, orogenic system that extends from western Europe through Turkey and Iran to South East Asia. The Tethyan belt resulted from the convergence and collision of the Indian, Arabian and African plates with Eurasia. The belt hosts numerous world-class mineral deposits, dominated by the full spectrum of intrusion-related mineral deposits including porphyry copper-gold deposits and related epithermal mineralisation.
Serbian Mineral Resources Policy
Serbia’s mining industry enjoys high-level government support. Our decision to expand our generative exploration effort into Serbia is timely. The on-going contraction of the gold exploration industry worldwide has created major opportunities for risk-tolerant junior exploration companies like Medgold. The cost of exploration has decreased significantly, and there are many dormant exploration projects which can be acquired quickly and at low cost.
The Ministry of Natural Resources, Mining and Spatial Planning is the Government agency responsible for the mining sector. In 2013, a new Law on Mining and Geological Research was under review which stipulates the establishment of the Geological Institute of Serbia and formulates a Mineral Resources Management Strategy. Under the new law, entities performing mining activities in Serbia would pay fees for the use of mineral deposits and geothermal resources, which included 7% of revenue for hydrocarbons in a liquid and gas state (crude oil and gas) and other natural gases, 5% for all metallic raw materials (for smelting), 5% for nonmetallic raw materials, 3% for all types of coal and oil shale, and 2% for geothermal energy (Ministry of Energy, Development and Environmental Protection of Republic of Serbia, 2014; Ministry of Natural Resources, Mining and Spatial Planning, 2012, 2014).
Serbia has good infrastructure and all of Medgold’s exploration projects are easily accessed. The country has 45,419 km of state roads and motorways that cross the entire country and connect with international roads.
Medgold Projects in Serbia
Medgold has been granted six exploration licences, each covering approximately 100 square kilometres, targeting gold-silver epithermal and gold-dominant porphyry systems associated with the Oligo-Miocene igneous belt in the central and southern parts of the country. This belt is under-explored for precious metals yet is geologically well mapped. Five of these licences are located on the borders of Macedonia and Bulgaria, in the very southeast of the country, and include the Donje Tlamino and Surlica-Dukat licences, which comprise the Tlamino Project optioned to Fortuna. The Company has registered interest, for a further twenty-plus licences, covering new targets generated through the strategic alliance with Fortuna.
The block of five contiguous licences is located in the Serbo-Macedonian Massif (“SMM”), a belt of crustal rocks that runs through Serbia, extending southwards through Macedonia and Bulgaria and into Greece. In Serbia it is parallel to the Carpatho-Balkanides, which includes the Timok Magmatic Complex (TMC), host to a number of copper-gold porphyry-epithermal deposits. The five contiguous licences are located along the Macedonian and Bulgarian borders, approximately 40 kilometres southeast of the city of Vranje, in southeast Serbia. They cover areas of Palaeozoic metasediments, including calcareous schists and marbles, which have been intruded by a series of Oligo-Miocene porphyritic felsic igneous dykes, and locally covered with recent alluvial sediments. Contact zones between dykes and favourable country rock are responsible for many of the known base and precious metal showings within the licence areas. Fairly extensive exploration was completed by the Yugoslav government from the 1950s to the late 1970s for lead and zinc.
A sixth exploration licence named Kalna was granted in March 2017. Kalna is located approximately 40 km due east of the city of Leskovac along the Bulgarian border, in the Carpatho-Balkanides province along the contact of the SMM, on the extreme southern part of the Ridanjsko-Krepoljin zone. This metallogenic zone is characterized mainly by skarn hydrothermal type, contact-metasomatic ore bodies with multiple occurrences of base and precious metals.