Chinese Zijin Mining and Russian Ugold met the requirements to become a strategic investor in copper smelting and mining complex Rudarsko Topionicarski Basen Bor (RTB Bor), Serbian Minister of Mining and Energy Aleksandar Antic announced on August 28, Tanjug reported.
According to local media, this race will be most likely won by the Chinese firm. The way the Serbian public have been informed about its interest is quite similar to the statements a couple of years ago when Hebei Iron and Steel Group (HBIS) showed interest in the acquisition of Zelezara Smederevo, the country’s only steel mill. HBIS acquired Zelezara Smederevo in July 2016 and saved 5,050 jobs.
Like Zelezara Smederevo before the Chinese investment, RTB Bor is one of the largest burdens on Serbia’s budget since the government’s efforts to find a solution to make the company sustainable are taking longer than planned. RTB Bor is the main employer in eastern Serbia and its closure could sharply increase poverty in the region. Thus, on July 18, the Ministry of Economy issued a public invitation for a strategic investor for RTB Bor. The public invitation envisages a mandatory monetary capital increase of $350mn.
Antic said on August 28 that the Ministry of Economy’s tender commission opened bids from the two companies and that both were acceptable. The third bid submitted by Canadian Diamond Fields didn’t met requirements because in some of its segments the bid didn’t have a binding character and it also didn’t include a banking guarantee.
“We expect that commission will do an assessment of the two correct bids in the shortest possible time. I do expect that as of January 1 we will have strategic partner who will operationally take over RTB Bor Management,” Antic said, Tanjug reported.
Beta news agency said on August 27 that Diamond Fields had supplemented documentation already submitted to take part in the tender for the strategic partnership with RTB Bor. According to Beta, the Canadian company didn’t submit complete paperwork and thus had until August 27 to add the missing parts. However, based on Antic’s words, the Canadian company is out of the race.