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Gold mining: foreign investors invited
( 2002-09-23 08:50 ) (1 )

One of China's most important non-ferrous metal mining areas in Central China's Hunan Province is opening its doors to 21st century prospectors.

Gold - the currency of the world - and a not so well-known mineral, stannum, used in homeopathic medicine, are the main focus of the invitation.

Until now Hunan has had few dealings in the field of mining with foreign enterprises, so competition is limited. Keen to encourage outside investment, a top official promised to safeguard the rights of those who move into the market.

Vice-Director of the Hunan Provincial Geology and Mineral Resource Prospecting and Developing Bureau Li Dongjun said his department would do whatever was necessary to protect the rights of foreign investors in accordance with international practices.

"We have completed the preliminary investigations and are confident of their appeal," he said, adding that detailed information would shortly be made available, once all the data was ready.

Competition was likely to be limited because of the risk and considerable investment required and also the fact that Hunan is a relative stranger to foreign enterprises.

For those reasons the bureau has not considered opening the project to public bidding or auction.

Once positive results are obtained and providing, of course, foreign investors maintain their interest, the bureau will allow them either to buy the developing rights, or to conduct follow-up development through a joint holding company with the bureau.

The invitation in respect of gold and stannum comes in the wake of the opening-up of the province's mineral industry earlier this year when it signed its first contract on mineral prospecting with a foreign party.

That modest initial contract, worth 2.27 million yuan (US$274,200), was with a South Korean enterprise to prospect for lead and zinc in the Qidong County, which is expected to yield results by November, said Li.

China has been actively seeking foreign investment in the mineral prospecting industry, and has held two large symposiums in the past two years in Urumqi, capital of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province.



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