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Mark Rachovides: Cyprus is home to significant untapped mineral deposits

With demand for copper expected to double over the next 20 years, it being a key mineral in the green transition, Cyprus – as a traditional copper exporter – can take advantage of this increased demand while diversifying its economy, according to Mark Rachovides, Chairman of Venus Minerals, who reveals in an interview with CBN that Cyprus has some significant untapped mineral deposits. Indeed, recent work by the company in Kokkinoyia has led it to believe there are three new zones with copper and gold mineralisation.

Can you tell us more about Venus Minerals, when it was established in Cyprus and how many offices / members of staff it currently has?

Our company was originally founded in Cyprus, as Eastern Mediterranean Minerals, around 15 years ago. In 2019, with new investors, we rebranded as Venus Minerals as we had a new team, and a new identity. We chose the name Venus due to the goddess’ association with Cypriot culture and history. Venus' Head Office is located in Nicosia, while we have around a dozen people working both in Cyprus and remotely. The company is currently working on a portfolio of projects in the Troodos region.

Copper, in particular, is a very in-demand metal. Cyprus has traditionally been a big copper exporter. What are its deposits like today? And its future potential?

Indeed, demand for copper is expected to double over the next twenty years, due to its indispensable role in the clean energy transition. In fact, demand is projected to exceed supply in the near future, due to population growth and the deployment of green technologies, an increased use of electronics, and the proliferation of electric vehicles globally.

As such, Cyprus, which is home to significant untapped mineral deposits – left behind by mining companies that suspended their operations after 1974 – can take advantage of this increased demand while diversifying its economy. Throughout the years, we have built a comprehensive modern geoscience database. There are significant economic resources remaining from historic mining as well as exciting new targets. Our most recent work at Kokkinoyia for example was very promising, as we believe there to be three new zones with copper and gold mineralisation.

What is your view of the copper and gold mining sector (locally and on a global level), both as it is today and its potential for growth?

With some going as far as to call copper “the new oil in the energy transition”, demand for the metal is expected to frankly skyrocket over the next few years. Specifically, copper demand is expected to almost double by 2035, with most analysts suggesting that global shortages of the red metal will continue to grow throughout the decade. The same goes for gold, whose demand remains above the historical average. At the same time, the prices of many metals are also set to increase as the world’s existing mines are getting deeper every year, rendering production more costly and leading to lower ore grades and lower production. Cyprus could therefore become a small, albeit significant player in the European mining industry, by exploiting its copper-gold deposits.

How much has Venus Minerals invested in Cyprus and does it plan to invest further?

Our efforts have so far concentrated on exploration work both in terms of drilling and other physical activities and working on our database and other long-term investments. As our knowledge grows, we will invest much more in development and ultimately mining activity. We are committed to Cyprus and developing a mine by definition is a process that takes some years.

What do you believe sets Venus Minerals apart from its competition?

Venus Minerals’ management team consists of highly experienced professionals in the sector, who have been operating in the industry for decades. Moreover, the fact that we have the backing of Ariana Resources, an AIM-listed gold exploration, development and production company, further reinforces our position as a leader in the local mining industry. Meanwhile, another advantage is the comprehensive geoscience database that we have managed to build across the island.

How has your experience of doing business in Cyprus been and would you recommend it to other foreign interest companies looking to relocate / open offices here?

Our cooperation with the Mines Service and local authorities, who granted us the relevant permits to start exploration in our various projects across Cyprus, has been excellent.

Moreover, we formed very strong partnerships with a number of professionals from various sectors of the economy, that helped us put our plans into motion. The island’s highly educated workforce, strong services sector and location, at the crossroads of three continents, make it an ideal destination for doing business.

How much focus do you put on CSR and being part of the local community?

Modern mining demands modern standards in all respects. Being part of the local community is very important for us, and that’s why have established close relations with community leaders and other stakeholders with interests in the areas we share. Stakeholder engagement and local inputs are essential to long-term success. Operating well must include verifiable environmental, social and governance performance. Having the former head of EBRD’s Environmental Department on our board demonstrates our willingness to reach the highest standards.

At the same time, it should of course be noted that developing Cyprus’ previously untapped mineral resources can bring numerous benefits to the local economy; it can create new jobs, bring in new capital and infrastructure investments as well as generate additional tax revenue.

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