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Overseas acquisition fund proposed
Updated: 2009-03-07 20:30

BEIJING -- China should establish a metal mining development fund to help Chinese firms raise capital for investment abroad, according to China Minmetals Corporation president Zhou Zhongshu.

Zhou proposed that the fund can comprise both state and private capital to take advantage of opportunities presented by the current falling market prices and the steady value of the yuan.

Zhou said at a press briefing Friday that it is the right time for Chinese mining companies to consider overseas expansion.

China Minmetals, the country's largest state-owned nonferrous metal provider, is awaiting Australian government approval to acquire OZ Minerals.

On February 16, the OZ Minerals board agreed to the purchase of all its shares at about $1.7 billion.

"We hope Australian authorities will conduct a fair and objective assessment of our case," said Zhou, also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body.

"We need their experience in mining exploration and management while our partner has been looking for capital."

As the world's second largest lead and zinc producer with deposits of 18.2 million tons of zinc, OZ Minerals market value contracted to 1.7 billion Australian dollars by November from its peak at 12 billion Australian dollars in July.

Tumbling commodity prices in the world market amid the unfolding financial crisis have spurred Chinese enthusiasm for overseas assets.

February also saw two other acquisition deals between Chinese mining groups and their Australian counterparts. The Aluminum Corp. of China, or Chinalco, announced on February 12 it would invest $19.5 billion in mining giant Rio Tinto Group. This deal would be by far the largest overseas investment by a Chinese company.

The latest such deal was between China Valin and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (FMG) on February 24, in which the Hunan-based steel and iron maker would become FMG's second largest shareholder by buying shares worth 558 million Australian dollars.

All three deals need government approval from the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board.