Adriatic Metals gears up for Bosnia-Herzegovina mine opening


A former silver mine in Bosnia and Herzegovina that sat abandoned through the years of civil strife that hit the region from the early 1990s is almost ready to resume operations.

Despite challenges brought by the global pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a harsher than expected winter, Adriatic Metals Plc’s (ASX: ADT) (LON: ADT1) Vares project is now more than 70% completed and ready to kick off production in November this year.

Its chief executive officer, Paul Cronin, says the original idea was to resume operations at the old open pit, which has 7 million tonnes of resources still in it. Studies conducted later showed high levels of harmful elements, particularly mercury, so Adriatic Metals chose not to go that route.

Instead, the junior invested in exploration and pinpointed what is now its flagship silver-zinc asset, which has been awarded the status of “project of special importance” by the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Adriatic Metals has invested time and resources to build relationships with the community, including a human resources strategy that focuses on teaching students in the last high school years science and other mining-related disciplines to later recruit them and train them on site.

The miner, Bosnia-Herzegovina’s biggest foreign investor, has secured offtake agreements for 82% of Vares’ production for the first two years with Trafigura, Glencore, Boliden and Transamine.

Adriatic, which went from the exploration to construction phase in less than five years, also has the Raska zinc–silver asset in neighbouring Serbia.

Despite that the project is in the very early stages of exploration, the company has already opened a community centre at the town close to the development where people can ask questions and talk about what the project potentially would look like.

Cronin highlights the high level of engagement they have secured so far. “I think locals recognize their iPhones didn’t come from an orchard. They are seeing the need for mining. The key is to do it in a sustainable way and benefiting the local communities,” he said.