Chinese, Canadian-Finnish, Cypriot firms bid for Serbia copper mine

BELGRADE, Aug 22 (Reuters) – China's Zijin Mining, Canadian-Finnish fund Champion and Cyprus-based U Gold have bid for a strategic partnership in RTB Bor, Serbia's only copper mine and smelter, the Belgrade-based Vecernje Novosti daily reported on Wednesday.

A day earlier, Serbia's Economy Ministry announced only that companies from Canada, China and Russia had bid.

The newspaper, without citing sources, said U Gold was backed by Russian assets and owned coal mines in Ukraine and hotels in Montenegro.

The Economy Ministry was not immediately available for comment.

In July, Belgrade invited bids for a partner to invest at least $350 million in debt-laden RTB Bor. Under the terms of the tender, the prospective partner would have to increase the company's production and keep its entire workforce of 5,000.

Serbia had previously failed three times to sell the mining complex, in 2007 and 2008, as bidders fell short of meeting the terms of those tenders.

RTB Bor's copper exports in the first half of 2018 rose 23 percent to 15,000 tonnes, company data showed. Export revenue between January and June stood at $107.1 million and it sold copper worth an additional $30.9 million domestically.

(By Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Dale Hudson)