Chinese geologists have discovered 1,202 mineral fields, which could greatly reduce the country's dependence on imported minerals, nationwide since the start of 2006, the Ministry of Land and Resources announced on Thursday.
"Reserves of badly needed minerals have been largely expanded, including iron, copper and bauxite, among others," said a ministry statement.
More than 100 million tons of iron ore was discovered in Gongchangling iron mine, in the northeastern Liaoning province. With a reserve of 62.3 million tons, it has become the largest quality iron mine in China.
Provinces, such as Anhui and Shandong, as well as other places in Liaoning, also reported discoveries of iron ore.
In Tibet Autonomous Regions, a huge reserve of more than 10 million tons of copper had been found in Qulong, while primary research in Duolong showed a deposit of more than 5 million tons.
Bauxite, used for making aluminum, was found in southwest and mid China, with a potential reserve in Yunnan exceeding 100 million tons.
Meanwhile, a large potash deposit was discovered in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, where a production base under construction would have an annual output of more than 1.2 million tons from 2009.
The ministry also recorded deposits of lead, zinc and gold nationwide.
The progress was in line with the govenrment's aim to reduce reliance on mineral imports by raising domestic productivity.
In its strategic report on mining resources released on Wednesday, the ministry said it aimed to keep imports of iron, copper and aluminum to within 50 to 70 percent of total domestic consumption. No specific timetable was given.
The government would also encourage state-owned companies to invest in foreign mining companies to secure mineral resources.
"With greater domestic production of major minerals in recent years, China has begun to rely less on overseas producers," the statement said .
The report showed imported iron ore accounted for 51.7 percent of total domestic demand in 2007, down 5 percentage points from 2005. The downward trend was expected to continue this year.
While 90 percent of potash was imported in 2001, the figure dropped below 70 percent last year.
China imported 30 percent of its total lead and zinc demand in 2006, but domestic production had caught up with industrial demand.
The ministry predicted a long-term increase in demand for mineral products.
"Overall mineral production and consumption must more than double to help realize the national goal of economic development," the report said.
GDP was expected to triple to 4 trillion U.S. dollars by 2020 as part of the national development plan for the first 20 years of the 21st Century. The figure quadrupled in the previous two decades with mining production and consumption doubled then.
(Xinhua News Agency October 23, 2008)