China’s Zijin Mining, through its subsidiary Serbia Zijin Mining Doo, has commissioned the Cukaru Peki Copper-Gold Mine near the Serbian city of Bor.

The Cukaru Peki upper zone of the Timok copper and gold project forms part of the Zijin-owned RTB Bor operation, which is the only copper mining complex in Serbia.

The mining and processing project of the Čukaru Peki upper zone has a capacity to process 3.3 million tonnes of ore per annum.

According to estimates, the upper zone’s reserve volumes stand at 1.28Mt of copper metal grading 3% on average, along with 81t of gold grading 1.91g/t on average.

In a press statement, the firm said: “The first part of the project involves mining an ultra high-grade ore body. It is expected to produce 50,000t of copper and 3t of gold in 2021.”

Zijin Mining has already invested $474m in the new underground mine.

Completion of the Timok project lower zone, which is currently in the feasibility stage, is expected to make Serbia the second-largest copper producer in Europe behind Poland.

The lower zone resource volume is estimated at 14.30Mt copper metal grading 0.86% on average, along with 299t of gold metal grading 0.18g/t on average.

China’s ambassador to Serbia, Chen Bo, was cited by Reuters as saying: “This project is important for the development of Serbia’s economy and also for strengthening cooperation between Serbia and China.”

Meanwhile, Xinhua quoted Chen Bo as saying: “I am very happy that the mine is built as an advanced green mine, which fulfils Chinese, Serbian and EU standards.”

In 2018, Zijin Mining agreed to acquire a 63% stake in RTB Bor by investing $1.26bn over a six-year period.

Earlier this year, reports emerged that Zijin Mining Group has been asked by Serbia to stop work at the RTB Bor copper mine for non-compliance with environmental standards.