Jiangxi Copper eyes more mines abroad

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Jiangxi Copper Corporation, China's largest copper producer, is looking to explore more mines abroad as it aims to increase its annual output from 900,000 tons in 2010 to 1.5 million tons during the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015).

"We will participate in more copper mining venture investment projects overseas to meet our demand for copper raw materials, which are needed as we expand the business over the next eight to 10 years," Li Yihuang, chairman of Jiangxi Copper, told China Daily on the sidelines of the National People's Congress' annual session.

"Jiangxi Copper might invest anywhere there are good opportunities, though some risk may exist," Li said, adding that risk is always proportionate to reward.

Li said that maintaining the sustainable economic development and environmentally friendly policy proposed by the central government in the 12th Five-Year Plan requires the company to expand business at various locations instead of just one.

Jiangxi Copper now owns two copper mines overseas, in Afghanistan and Peru.

The company acquired the Aynak copper mine in Afghanistan and the Northern Peru Copper Corp in 2007 and raised $1 billion on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange last year to fund the projects.

The Afghanistan project, of which 75 percent is owned by Metallurgical Corp of China Ltd (MCC) and 25 percent by Jiangxi Copper, has been delayed due to the discovery of Buddhist relics at the mine that are more than 1,500 years old.

Reuters reported Jiangxi Copper is working with Afghan officials to find a way to move forward with the copper project southwest of Kabul and that a resolution is likely to come this month.

"After going into production, the two overseas mines will generate 40 tons of copper annually," Li said. "Through exploring copper mines abroad, more copper will be shipped to China to meet domestic demand," Li said.

He expected domestic demand for copper to rise by around 7 percent this year, driven by the fast-growing construction industry.

The Guixi-based company plans to raise its production to 1.5 million tons annually over the next five years, after annual output reached 900,000 tons last year.

By the end of 12th Five-Year Plan, the company also expects its sales revenue to increase to 180 billion yuan ($27 billion) from 86 billion yuan in 2010. The rising price of copper helped lift the company's profits to a record 4.9 billion yuan last year, doubling that of 2009, according to a statement on the company's website.

In addition to the copper mine, Jiangxi Copper will continuously invest both at home and abroad in lead-zinc exploration.

With an investment of 5 billion yuan, Jiangxi Copper's lead-zinc mine in Jiujiang city, Jiangxi province, will start production this year, Li said.

"Aside from copper, we also attach great importance to the lead-zinc business and will try to develop Jiangxi Copper into a producer of different metals, because our long-term development can't rely on only one product," Li said.

As one of the main drivers of China's metals industry, Jiangxi Copper plans to join the list of the top 500 companies in the world within the next five years, Li said.

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