Macedonia is a country rich in mineral resources including copper, lead, zinc, chromite, manganese, nickel, tungsten, gold, silver, asbestos, gypsum and timber. Mining for gold dates back to the time Alexander the Great where yields were used to fund armies and build the Roman Empire. Mining continued to Roman times and beyond, with gold having important uses in fashion, for religion and also for ornamental uses.
Whilst such a long history of mining exists in Macedonia, the Ilovica gold-copper project will be the first greenfield development of its kind in the country. This is an exciting opportunity to build a world-class mine using modern technology and integrating the highest levels of practice for health, safety and environmental management. The Ilovica project could also have widespread benefits for Macedonia. At a national level the project will raise awareness of the mining industry in Macedonia and set an example of how greenfield projects in the Balkans can be developed in a sustainable, ethical and environmentally sound way. It is planned that the Ilovtiza deposit will be mined using open pit methods and a clean copper-gold concentrate will be produced on site. The concentrates will be purified further at a smelter where the gold and copper metal will be extracted.
People and Gold
Nearly all people depend on the availability and use of mined products including precious and base metals, gemstones such as diamonds, coal and oil shale, rock salt, potash, gravel and clay. Precious metals such as gold are highly important – Gold is used in dentistry, electronics and coinage as well as having ornamental, symbolic and religious uses. Copper is also one of the oldest metals used in many ancient cultures; with its malleable nature copper was first fashioned into tools, ornaments and weapons several thousand years ago. Today copper is used in building construction and also in electrical equipment as the metal conducts electricity and heat efficiently as well as having useful alloying properties. Whilst no country today uses a gold standard as the basis of its monetary system, many governments and banks hold substantial gold reserves and gold is seen as an important hedge against other fluctuating commodities. It is estimated that the National Bank of the Republic of Macedonia hold approximately 6.8 tonnes gold in reserve.
The mining industry can bring notable benefits to communities – from the potential employment opportunities that a mine will create through to skills and training programmes and also indirect benefits in local infrastructure and support of local businesses. Mining companies often pay royalties and taxes and in Macedonia the state will benefit from corporate taxes, taxes on salaries and local suppliers and from a 2% net revenue royalty. At a local level 78% of the total state royalty paid will be received directly back into the local municipalities. Euromax Resources is committed to maintaining an ethical business practice, supporting our host communities where we can and developing our project to the highest standards of environmental management. To learn more about our approach to responsible mining, please click here.
Mining on a global scale
A total of 174,100 tonnes of gold have been mined in human history, according to 2012 Thomson Reuters GFMS data. The US geological survey has also estimated that there are 52,000 tonnes of mineable gold still left in the ground. Total global production of copper is about 17 million tonnes per year with demand increasing each year. The leading copper producers are Chile, China, Peru and the USA however in countries such as the USA each year nearly as much copper is recovered from recycled material as is derived from newly mined ore.
With a decline in the discovery of new gold and copper deposits, increasing socio-economic difficulties to mine in countries such as in Africa, and demand from the jewellery and technology sectors both remaining resilient, it is very important to develop smaller, but economic deposits such as the Ilovica project.