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China Minmentals joins gov't agencies in 100-million-ton iron ore project
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09:32, November 11, 2007

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A pilot cooperation project between China's largest metal trader and government agencies is hoping to tap an iron ore reserve of at least 100 million tons in the eastern Anhui Province.

State-owned China Minmetals Corp. has signed a deal with central and local geological agencies to jointly explore the newly discovered deposit in the Lujiang-Zongyang region on the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, but declined to disclose further details.

However, Long Baolin, an official with the China Geological Survey (CGS), a prospecting unit under the Ministry of Land and Resources, told Xinhua the deposit was about 700 meters underground with a reserve of "at least 100 million tons".

The discovery is a result of China's efforts to look for minerals at least 500 meters below the land surface, which may be of better quality, but require higher levels of technology to explore.

"We are confident that the company will achieve breakthroughs in prospecting in the region and contribute to China's resource security," said Song Yufang, vice president of China Minmetals.

China Minmetals has invested 60 million yuan (8 million U.S. dollars) this year in the region, which is a key target area identified by the CGS.

The exploration, carried out in collaboration with the Anhui Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources Exploration, was going well and the cooperation would hopefully be adopted in more projects across the country, said Song.

"The deal is the first of its kind between a company and government agencies in the country," said Long.

China's booming economy has boosted its imports of raw materials and products ranging from oil and iron ore to nonferrous metals.

China, the world's biggest producer and consumer of steel, imported a record 325 million tons of iron ore last year, mainly from Brazil and India.

Analysts said the imports for the whole of 2007 would reach 367million tons, beating an earlier forecast of 355 million tons.

As domestic demand and imports continue to rise, the import price of iron ore in June this year was 84.03 U.S. dollars per ton, up 42.9 percent on the same month last year. The average price from January to June soared 21.7 percent.

Source: Xinhua

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