Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd. emerged as the winning investor for Serbia's sole copper mine and smelter, RTB Bor, Reuters reported Aug. 31.
The Chinese miner committed to invest US$1.26 billion for a 63% stake in the debt-laden asset, and pledged another US$200 million to settle RTB Bor's debt, according to Serbian Energy Minister Aleksandar Antic.
Of the US$1.26 billion figure, US$135 million would be invested to improve the environment, while another US$320 million would be earmarked for a new copper mine, Antic said.
The Serbian government published a tender in July seeking a US$350 million investment as part of the strategic partnership. Reuters reported recently that Zijin and Russian-owned U Gold submitted valid tenders for the potential partnership.
Antic noted that the government selected Zijin as it committed more investment.
The transaction forms part of the government's plan to off-load indebted state-run companies to relieve pressure on the budget and support growth, as recommended by the International Monetary Fund.
RTB Bor's copper exports in the first half rose 23% to 15,000 tonnes, company data showed, while the complex accounts for 0.8% of Serbia's GDP. The country previously failed to divest the complex as bidders fell short of requirements.
China has invested over U$1 billion in Serbia as part of its belt and road initiative, mostly in the form of soft loans to support highway and energy projects.