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Serbia Zijin Copper to invest $408 mln in mines, smelter

BELGRADE, April 7 (Reuters) - The Serbia Zijin Copper company, operator of Serbia’s sole copper complex, plans to invest $408 million in 2021, up from $360 million in 2020, to overhaul and expand its four mines and a smelter, it said on Wednesday.

The plan also includes improving environmental protection in the heavily polluted Bor region, in Serbia’s east, it said in a statement posted on its website.

The company, part of China’s Zijin Mining, said it planned to boost output of copper concentrate by 38.91% to 74,010 tonnes and cathode copper by 18% to 83,450 tonnes this year.

In 2018, Zijin Mining became Serbia’s strategic partner in the copper complex RTB Bor, pledging to invest $1.26 billion in return for a 63% stake.

In its statement, the company also said it aimed to produce 2.5 tonnes of gold and 10 tonnes of silver in 2021, an annual increase of 45.14% and 10.12% respectively.

China has invested billions of euros in Serbia, mostly in the form of soft loans to finance highway and energy projects, as part of its so-called belt and road initiative to open new foreign trade links. (Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Mark Potter)

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