Chinese metals producer and refiner Zijin Mining is reportedly set to invest $1.26bn to acquire a 63% stake in Serbian copper complex RTB Bor.
The development comes after Zijin Mining won a tender to become a strategic partner in the complex, Reuters reported, citing Serbia Energy Minister Aleksandar Antic.
As part of the deal, the company has also committed to invest an additional $200m to settle RTB Bor’s debt and absorb all of the 5,000 workers currently employed at the complex.
According to Antic, the total investment involves $135m towards improving the environment, while $320m will be directed towards opening a new copper mine.
The transaction is consistent with the Serbian government’s plan to offload state-run companies that are reeling under heavy debts.
Zijin Mining will become the second Chinese firm to have majority stake in a Serbian firm after Hesteel acquired a steel plant in the town of Smederevo in 2016.
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During the first half of this year, RTB Bor’s copper exports soared 23% to stand at 15,000t, with revenue from the exports touching $107.1m.
The deal builds on continuing Chinese investment in Serbia, with the Asian nation injecting more than $1bn to fund highway and energy projects in Serbia, as part of its belt and road initiative.
The agreement comes after three unsuccessful attempts to divest the Serbian mining complex.
Zijin Mining emerged as the successful bidder in the tender, which also saw participation from Russian-owned U Gold.
Serbia selected the Chinese firm as it promised to make more investment than other interested parties.