Freeport-McMoRan, Codelco eye new copper smelting capacities at Serbia’s RTB Bor

By bne IntelliNews August 27, 2013

US firm Freeport-McMoRan and Chile’s state-owned Codelco – the biggest copper producer in the world, are interested in increasing the capacities of the new copper smelting unit that is under construction at Serbian copper smelting and mining complex RTB Bor, the head of the Serb company Blagoje Spaskovski said.

Representatives of the two companies have held talks with the management of RTB Bor on the possible increase of the capacity of the new unit from the projected 80,000 tonnes annually to 100,000-110,000 tonnes, Spaskovski said in an article on the RTB Bor’s website.

The announcement follows previous reports about an unnamed Swiss firm being interested in building a second smelting unit at RTB Bor – close to the one that is being built at present.

Spaskovski says that RTB Bor is interested in raising the new capacity but the final decision on the matter should come from the Serbian government. He adds that the capacity under construction could be expanded if the projected quality of the copper concentrate raises from 22% to 26-28% since the complete equipment for the new smelter has already been delivered.

Freeport-McMoRan is expected to soon adopt a final decision on opening a new mine close to the Bor city airport. Therefore the new smelter would be an ideal place for processing their copper concentrate, and very economical - considering that their only alternative for copper processing is in the Bulgarian town of Pirdop, some 400 kilometres away from the future mine pit.

Codelco is also interested to process part of the copper concentrate it produces in the Bor area in the new smelter, the report said.

The smelting unit currently under construction at RTB Bor should be completed by 2014. It is worth EUR 135mn and financed via a sovereign guaranteed loan extended by Canadian lender EDC. RTB Bor Group is the sole producer of copper and precious metals in Serbia and the country's most important link in the copper chain. Copper business provides Serbia with several hundred millions of dollars a year.

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