Radovish, North Macedonia, April 29, 2020 The total amount of ore processed at Bucim in 2019 amounted to 4.248 million tonnes (101% of 2018 volume), with copper content of 0.184% (94% compared to the quality of ore processed in 2018), gold content of 0.247 g/t (81% compared to the quality of ore processed in 2018), and silver content of 0.62 g/t (121% compared to the quality of ore processed in 2018). This corresponded to 31,226 tonnes of dry copper concentrate from ore raw materials (92% of 2018 volume), containing 6,512 tonnes of copper (94% of 2018 volume), 593 kg of gold (77% of 2018 volume), and 937 kg of silver (92% of 2018 volume). In 2019, Bucim’s SX/EW plant produced 719 tonnes of cathode copper of 99.99% quality (94% of 2018 volume).
The main reason for the decrease in production volumes in 2019 in comparison to 2018 was the lower metal content in the ore. In 2019, exploitation of the Bunardzik ore body was completed. In total, 12.719 million tons of ore were extracted from Bunardzik, equal to 102% of the projected reserves.
The Bucim mine excavates ore which has very low copper content, but nevertheless, according to its 2019 results, the company was able to achieve a positive financial result, a pre-tax profit of €16.106 million (83% compared to 2018).
In 2019, in order to secure operational efficiency and extend the life of the company’s performance to at least 2030, Bucim DOO Radovish started developing the new Borov Dol project. The Borov Dol project is replacing the 40 year-old Bucim mine which is currently in the process of closing. The company’s strategy is to ensure a smooth and sustainable transition to the new mine while minimizing the environmental impact, preserving the jobs of most of the employees currently engaged in Bucim’s operations, and also creating new job opportunities for the residents of the neighboring municipalities.
During the reporting period, Bucim paid taxes to the budget of North Macedonia in the amount of €1,661 thousand (84% compared to 2018). The company paid concession fees of €1,222 thousand for the use of the mineral resources for 2019, 78% of which were paid into the budget of the municipality of Radovish and 22% into the national state budget.
Social contributions from salaries paid in 2019 were equal to €1,657 thousand (99% compared to 2018), while the collection rate of pension and disability insurance contributions was 0.4% higher than in 2018. Health insurance contributions rose by 0.1% compared to the same period in 2018.
The average monthly wage in 2019 amounted to €534 (98% compared to 2018). In 2019, employees were paid a recourse for the use of annual leave in the amount of €106,000 (99% compared to the previous year). In 2019, a one-time compensation was paid in the form of severance pay to employees who had acquired the right to a pension in the amount of €14,000. In January 2020, the enterprise introduced a system of monetary rewards for those employees who have been continuously employed by the company for 15 years. 210 of Bucim’s loyal employees are expected to receive this monetary reward by the end of 2020.
In 2019, the company invested €110,000 in social development. This includes support for athletic clubs, young creative talents and educational programs, providing material assistance to the city hospital, schools and kindergartens, providing a pallet heating system for a kindergarten, carrying out repairs of buildings, purchasing necessary equipment and inventories, and assistance in the development of cultural programs in the local community.
Bucim’s 2019 annual health and safety operational investments reached €130,000 including the cost of employee PPE, hygiene products, certification of technical equipment, technical inspection of equipment, fire prevention measures, employee medical examinations, purchasing of current safety materials, and staff training.
Facility maintenance and repair expenses totaled €4.035 million in 2019. The forecast cost of maintenance and repairs of the main technological equipment, buildings and structures in 2020 is € 2.673 million (59% compared to 2018).
In 2019, investments in support of production capacity (purchases of equipment, machinery, construction, etc.) amounted to €670,000. €106,000 was invested in environmental programs. This included re-cultivation of the dam of the tailing dump in the required area, environmental monitoring services – including both surface and groundwater, atmospheric air, environmental noise, industrial emissions and discharges, and waste management services, as well as environmental third party audits and assessments.
In 2019 Bucim was recertified according to ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015. In May 2019, Bucim was successfully certified according to the latest international standard requirements – ISO: 45001:2018.
Starting from March 10, 2020, the enterprise, in order to better manage and prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as in accordance with the measures issued by the responsible authorities, exempted from work employees with children under the age of 10 and employees with chronic diseases, introduced restricted entry for external associates and visitors, cancelled all events and meetings in order to avoid gatherings of large numbers of people in one place at one time, and changed the schedule of the canteen. All necessary preventive measures such as disinfection of the cabins of the technological vehicles, equipment, workrooms, and employees are provided for with the necessary number of antiseptics and facial protective masks. In accordance with the prohibition and special regime for movement on the territory of the Republic of North Macedonia due to the necessity of maintaining the continuity of operations, the enterprise received a government-issued permit for the movement of 310 employees to perform shift and night work. The permit shall be a confirmation of right of movement of the employees while under curfew.
Bucim donated €50,000 in support of North Macedonia’s fight against COVID-19 virus. €40,000 were transferred to the special donor account the Ministry of Health of the Republic of North Macedonia and an additional donation of €10,000 was given to the local health centers in the municipalities of Radovish, Shtip and Strumica. The enterprise has also donated protective equipment (PPE) for the protection of the health of the employees in the institutions in the municipalities of Radovish and Shtip. 450 medical face masks were donated to local institutions fighting coronavirus and 150 protective suits for the Regional Clinical Hospital in Shtip.
The planned production for 2020 is forecast to be 31,126 tonnes of copper concentrate and 675 tonnes of cathode copper of 99.99% quality. The production process at the Bucim plant in 2020 will be carried out according to two schemes: production of copper concentrate from the ore concession Bucim and from the ore body Borov Dol. The forecast volume of processed ore for 2020 from the Bucim concession area is 2.3 million tonnes. The company forecasts 2020 production of copper concentrate at 15,935 tonnes, containing 3,346 tonnes of copper and 195 kg of gold. From Borov Dol ore body, the forecast volume of processed ore is 1.476 million tonnes, and 15,191 tonnes of copper concentrate, containing 2,938 tonnes of copper.
Borov Dol project development update
In 2019, approximately 99.3% of the yearly plan for earth works on the open pit was completed. The construction of the main technological facilities began in the first half of 2019, of which works were completed in the following volumes: road – 100%; conveyor line and power lines of 20kV, earthworks – 83%, reinforced concrete work – 40%; a site of primary crushing and a closed ore warehouse, earthworks – 90%, reinforced concrete work – 95%.
Total investment in 2019 in the Borov Dol project was €33.6 million.
In 2019, Borov Dol began earth excavation work. 12.8 million tonnes of rock material were excavated. Total investment in excavation in 2019 was €11.7 million.
In 2019, Borov Dol spent €474,000 to design the project’s buildings and prepare for construction. The project includes installation of an ore transport system from the Borov Dol open pit to the Bucim flotation unit which was already purchased in 2019 from Sarl Techni France, and its expected to be finished in September 2020. Installation of the primary crushing equipment is expected to be finished in July 2020 by Metso Minerals. In 2019, contracts for the procurement of movable equipment from Komatsu, Caterpillar, Epiroc, Sandviks were entered into. Total investment in equipment in 2019 reached €14.1 million.
During the second half of 2019, after obtaining a permit for construction of a transport system route and power lines from the municipality of Radovish, the construction of a route connecting Borov Dol and Bucim began as the primary crushing building where primary crushing equipment will be installed. The road connecting Borov Dol to the regional road was constructed at the end 2019. Total investments in construction in 2019 were €6.3 million.
In 2019, paperwork began to be submitted for applications for permission to build the mine infrastructure: concession land was reassigned for construction purposes, permission was received from the Ministry of Environmental Protection to change river channels in order to protect surface waters, the urban design plans were adopted by Ministry of Transportation and Communication of North Macedonia, as the Architectonic Urbanistic Design.
In March 2019, Borov Dol and Komercijalna Banka AD Skopje concluded an agreement for granting a long-term loan in amount of €25 million, of which €14.8 million was used for the financing of the Metso and Techmi agreements as well the excavation works.
The average monthly net salary paid by Borov Dol in 2019 was €893, compared to the €585 average paid net salary in the mining industry in North Macedonia in 2019, and the country’s overall average net salary paid in 2019 of €410.
During the first quarter of 2020, the company continued working to advance its extension plans for the Borov Dol project, which is planned to extend the life of the existing Bucim DOO. At the beginning of the second quarter of 2020, Borov Dol received a construction permit. The Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Republic of North Macedonia issued a permit for the construction of the Borov Dol mining complex. The Borov Dol project will start operating by the end of third quarter of 2020.
In 2020, Borov Dol plans to excavate 12.728 million tonnes of material, including 1.729 million tonnes of ore, with average content of 0.303% of Cu and 0.268 g/t of Au. In 2020, Borov Dol plans to produce 2,938 tonnes of Cu in concentrate and 184 kg of Au in concentrate.
Total investments in 2020 are expected to be € 35,757,000, of which:
- Designing and administration procedures – € 667,000;
- Construction – €12.1 million;
- Equipment – €15 million;
- Excavation of material – €8 million.
About Bucim DOO Radovish and Borov Dol
Bucim DOO Radovish is the only operating cooper mine in North Macedonia. The mine is the largest local employer in the region and is fully committed to its social and environmental responsibilities.
Borov Dol is the only newly developed ore body in North Macedonia to have been developed in the past 40 years. It will prolong the operations of the existing Bucim mine, thereby preserving jobs and contributing to the regional and state economies.
Since 2005, the Bucim mine has been a part of Solway Investment Group, which has enabled Bucim to pursue a new path and secured the mine’s long-term prospects. Solway Investment Group acquired the mine after having won the government’s international tender.