Formerly known as Subzero Group, Raiden Resources was relisted on the ASX in February 2018. In the months building up to its revival, the firm busied itself with the takeover of Timok Resources, which heralded the dawn of Raiden’s entry into the recently revived resource sector of Serbia. Through the acquisition of Timok Resources, Raiden gained ownership of two wholly-owned Serbian entities, giving it access to a number of highly prospective copper-gold projects in the Eastern European nation. Then, in an unprecedented development for a recently listed junior, Raiden executed an option to earn in agreement with Rio Tinto, merely one month after it assumed control of its Serbian assets.
The restructuring process at Raiden saw Dusko Ljubojevic appointed managing director along with several other appointments at board level. Ljubojevic is a highly experienced geologist of Balkan descent who has spent many years with juniors and major companies across Africa, Asia, Australia, N America and Eastern Europe, including in Serbia.
“That was one of the reasons I came on board,” he says. “We started focusing on this region because we were aware of the potential it has as a re-emerging copper-gold producing district, which despite the fact that it has and continues to yield world class discoveries, remains underexplored.”
Working in Serbia is nothing new to many of the company’s new board members and management team and this previous experience will provide Raiden with a major advantage as it begins to advance its Serbian operations.
“We are essentially hitting the ground running. We are not evaluating a new jurisdiction and are very comfortable here with the service providers, the regulators and we know how to operate in Serbia.”
However, it wasn’t until the completion of the Timok acquisition that Raiden was able to establish a foothold in Serbia’s mining sector under its new identity. The board’s ultimate goal is to explore its projects and continue to expand the extensive copper-gold portfolio in solid jurisdictions. Ljubojevic believes Raiden has gained an enviable portfolio in a tier 1 jurisdiction.
“This is about as good of a ground package as any exploration company could hope to secure as its initial portfolio. The projects are situated within a district which is dominated by major development companies such as Rio Tinto, Freeport McMoRan, JOGMEC (Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation), and a number of producing state-owned mines and it is located in a favourable mining jurisdiction.”
In Serbia, Raiden holds a significant acreage position of over 300 km², encompassing a sizeable portfolio of approximately six projects which are either granted or under application. The projects are at varying stages, from defined, drill ready targets, to early stage exploration projects, providing the company with a solid pipeline of opportunities.
These projects are located in some of the most prospective geological regions of Serbia and in some instances, these areas that have seen little to no modern exploration activity to date. “This provided a fantastic opportunity for an explorer to move in,” says Ljubojevic.
Most of the projects are located within the Carpatho-Balkan zone in Eastern Serbia, which is home to the Timok Magmatic Complex. Timok is a relatively small district which is one of the main copper producing centres in Europe and has become the focus of several international companies’ endeavours who have recently entered Serbia.
“Our portfolio includes two projects within Timok and the areas remain underexplored. What we are targeting are porphyry copper-gold and epithermal mineralisation which constitute the Bor and Majdanpek deposits and have been actively mined for decades by the Serbian state mining company, RTB Bor.”
Ljubojevic explains how there are possibly further extensions of Timok style geology which strikes South towards the Bulgarian border, where the company has secured three more projects – Donje Nevlje, Pirot and Stara Planina – all of which are conducive for porphyry style and intrusion related mineralisation.
Focusing on the Stara Planina project, it has two large geochemically defined anomalies which were confirmed by geophysics undertaken by Raiden in late 2017. The geophysics correlated very well with the surficial geochemistry and will be followed up in the company’s maiden drill programme this year.
This is just one example of the promising geology and targets which are a hallmark of Raiden’s Serbian portfolio. Any mining firm in the world would say that the geology of any given host region is central to the chances of a successful project, but equally important is the quality of the host jurisdiction.
According to Ljubojevic, Serbia provides both of these in equal measure: “Serbia is probably the most favourable investment destination for mining and exploration companies in Europe, and that is reflected in the number of major companies in the country.
“It’s a relatively small country and you have a number of global development companies competing for the acreage, which says a lot about the quality of the jurisdiction and the prospectivity of the geology.”
Modern mining has taken place in Serbia for over a century, therefore it has a very well-established mining workforce that is very cost-competitive in comparison with many Western jurisdictions. Infrastructure is also highly developed as a legacy of the former Socialist state, when extensive road and rail systems were constructed throughout the entire country.
In fact, rail systems run right through most of Raiden’s projects and power is probably the cheapest in Europe, says Ljubojevic. When it gets there, the company will also benefit from an in-country smelter facility and good transportation links to neighbouring countries via rail, leading to numerous ports.
The Rio Tinto JV agreement has undoubtedly been the most significant news item coming out of Raiden during its first few months of operation, but what will the US$31 million earn-in deal actually translate to for the junior?
“In the short run, it allows us to focus our own initial funding and time on our most advanced asset – the Stara Planina project.”, noted Ljubojevic. Raiden is well cashed-up with a budget of over $4 million, meaning it can properly test the large targets at its most advanced project.
“In the medium term it provides us with a partner with not just ability to finance, but also has experience and technical skills in this geological environment and targeting these porphyry systems.
“In the long run, Rio Tinto is a partner which has the ability to not just explore but to develop in case there will be a discovery. We are in partnership with somebody that can add some real long-term value.
Capturing the attention of one of the world’s largest mining companies, not even one month into its relisting, is a major affirmation of the quality of Raidens’ portfolio and the management’s ability to close the deal.
“Many juniors state they are targeting tier 1 deposits, but in our case this has been confirmed,” Ljubojevic declares.
“A company like Rio Tinto is after tier 1 deposits. By entering into this agreement with us, it signals to the market that our projects are prospective for porphyry systems.”
Under its new incarnation, Raiden has already achieved what most junior mining companies can only dream of. The company’s JV with Rio Tinto will provide the company significant upside potential on the joint venture properties, while allowing it to fast-track its other more advanced projects aggressively.
In the mining industry, the story always ends in production. But, for Raiden the focus will continue to centre on discovery in a region which continues to produce Tier one assets.