The volume of geological research in Serbia has increased significantly in the past ten years and in that period, dozens of exploration permits were issued, mostly for sites in the east of the country, where mining is traditionally the most prevalent economic activity.
The intensive development of mining in the past period is indicated by the data that more than 4.3 billion euros were invested in the mining sector in the last ten years, mostly foreign investments, while over 700 million euros were spent on geological research.
According to the data obtained by BIRN at the time, about 100 companies registered in our country have permits for ore and metal exploration in Serbia and the total area on which they conduct tests spans 5,673 square kilometres.
In reality, geological research here is mostly in the hands of only a dozen companies, predominantly foreign, which, through affiliated companies, own exploration rights on approximately 90 percent of the territory where possibilities for opening mines are being examined.
The turning point for the takeoff of the ore exploration business in Serbia was 2015 when the Law on Mining and Geological Exploration was amended. Following the amendments to that act, which were adopted by the Serbian Parliament in December 2015, local authorities were no longer in charge of issuing exploration permits and the decision-making on this matter was transferred to the Ministry of Mining and Energy. The new rules put investors and ore explorers in a much more favourable position because they could get all the permits they needed in one place in Belgrade.
Of the 30 leading companies by the area in which they explore ores, 15 of them were founded in 2015 and later. These companies have more than 50 percent share in the total area where ores are explored in Serbia.
Predrag Mijatović, deputy director of the Geological Institute, says that in the last 10 to 15 years, there has been an expansion of geological research in Serbia. According to him, the foreign companies that come to Serbia to explore ore deposits are exclusively interested in gold, copper, lead and zinc and the largest individual investors are Rio Tinto and Freeport, which sold its exploration rights to the Chinese company Zijin, the owner of the Bor Mining and Smelting Basin (RTB Bor).
Konstantin Resources is the company that dominates in the exploration of ores in terms of territory in covers, which is about 71,089 hectares, spread over 11 locations from eastern Serbia, through Šumadija, to the west of the country. The company, which focuses on gold, silver and copper research, was founded in Serbia on August 15, 2017.
Via the companies Stara Planina Resources and Valdor Resources, Mundoro Corporation is carrying out exploration on 51,744 hectares of land in Serbia.
Stara Planina Resources was founded in 2011 and Mundoro Middelen B.V, registered in the Netherlands, whose headquarters are in Canada, bought it in 2015. In Canada, Mundoro also owns the company Great Mountain Ventures Ltd, which is the owner of Valdor Resources, founded in Serbia in 2020.
Other leading companies in ore exploration in Serbia include Dundee Precious Metals, Ibaera Capital, Balkan Metal Corp, Metalfer (the only domestic company in the group), Medgold Resources and Euoro Lithium Balkan.
Most of the foreign companies engaged in geological exploration in Serbia come from Australia and Canada.
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