Mining in Bor: A Rocky Road to Prosperity

Featured Image: Senior geologist Nikifor shows us the mineralisation across Mundoro’s northern licences

A lot of companies have rushed to secure licences in Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Northern Greece and to some extent Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia in recent years, seeking gold, silver, lead, copper and all kinds of precious and base metals. Mid-Tier producers like El dorado and Majors like Zijin call the area a home-from-home and juniors are seeing fast progression and accessible licencing, when they play the rules appropriately.

It has not been a smooth journey for the people of Serbia.

Mining in the Balkan region goes back a long way, from the dawn of the Greek and Thracian empires which produced marvellous gold ornaments and marble monuments across their lands. During this time the region prospered with tombs still being discovered across Bulgaria full of treasures.

The Mongol Hoarde crossed through the region and laid waste to Northern cities in the 1200s, demanding tribute from gold mining production. In 1941 the Serbian copper producing district of Bor was invaded by Nazi Germany and operated as a slave labour camp, with an estimated 23,000 Serbians forced to serve the mine.

In my living memory and that of the miners we’ve met there, a bitter war and over 100,000 deaths tore the region apart in the early 90s following the breakup of Yugoslavia and left a deep scar in the cultural identity of all involved. Commemorations are held annually on 11th of July across Europe to remember those who lost their lives in the largest conflict in Europe since the second world war.

The peace agreement, signed in November 1995, was to prove fundamental to opening up the region to international exploration and development. With the provisional agreement of security for minority ethnic groups and the frameworks required for regional trade to gradually develop.

Along this road, there have been remarkable periods of peace as well, in which geologists and miners have flourished.

Bor is one of the largest copper producing districts in the world and it’s principle mine is now operated by Zijin. In modern publication terms, it has been in operation since 1904, when a French group first identified the deposit, although Serbian records may go back further.

Geological map of Serbia. After Jeleznik 2016
Geological map of Serbia. After Jeleznik 2016

According to Jelenkovic’s paper in 2016, the Bor metallurgical zone is characterised by an extended period of cyclical extrusive volcanic eruptions, with collapsed materials re-entering eruptions and mixing tephra and volcanoclasts. This was not a pleasant time for the rocks in this region!

Bor’s violent eruptive cycle brought with it hydrothermal fluids at depth, which were highly enriched in copper and gold, with respectable silver, molybdenum and PGEs. These fluids were forced through the country rock and volcanogenic deposits to form a vast array of deposit types. Again, according to Jelenkovic, porphyry copper-gold, cupriferous pyrite, massive base-metal sulphides and hydrothermal veins, iron oxides skarns, carbonate replacement polymetallic deposits and volcanogenic epithermal gold mineralization are all observed within the district.

All in all, it is one of the most accessible major-metalliferous zones on the planet.

One Canadian might ask ‘why isn’t the area crawling with geologists’. They’d be right to ask… and surprised to find out, it absolutely is! Freeport, JOGMEC, Medgold, EMX, VALE and more have local teams in Bor City. ALS have a dedicated lab there and SRK run regional offices too…

That same Canadian might go on to ask ‘Why haven’t I heard about it’? In truth, because they didn’t need your money to get it going! With so many majors active in the region, many projects are financed by joint-ventures and partnerships and there hasn’t been much TSX raising required to keep the wheels turning.

Mundoro’s Tilva Rosh target near Bor is mineralised at surface and road accesible, we visited in June 2019.
Mundoro’s Tilva Rosh target near Bor is mineralised at surface and road accesible, we visited in June 2019.

Mundoro Capital are a great example of a company in the region who have used the partnership model to avoid dilution and advance projects, with only minimal raises for operating and facilities costs. Mundoro have 3 major partnerships around Bor in Freeport, JOGMEC and Vale, primarily exploring the Timok magmatic complex for porphyries and extensions to known deposits.

In May 2019 JOGMEC elected to fully fund exploration at Mundoro’s Borsko target zone, completing geophysical surveys of the porphyry target which sits within a frisbee throw of the active Bor Mine. Freeport have invested $2.4m into Mundoro’s porphyry and epithermal targets to the north, (including at Tilva Rosh, which I’ve visited and can confirm is beautiful!). Vale have partnered on an earn-in agreement on the southern TIMOK licence and should be beginning their work later in 2020.

Having only spent $8.4m and with a fairly clear runway to project development with major partners, Mundoro are leading the Bor region in technical terms right now.

I spoke to CEO Teo Dechev recently about their work in Serbia. Despite some worries about the Covid19 shutdown worldwide, she is positive about copper in the long term. Hear our chat here:

Mundoro have more projects in Bulgaria and Mexico and we’ll be talking about those later in the month, stay tuned eh!



Spotlight Mining

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Liam Hardy View posts by Liam Hardy

With a family background in African mining exploration and a degree in geology, Liam brings a mix of technical ‘on-the-ground’ ore hunting and suit-booted office experience to the team. Liam worked in Liberia with Hummingbird Resources and spent 4 years as a geochemical analyst, before focusing on streamlining communications and development in exploration businesses, through the founding of ‘Spotlight Mining’.