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Xinjiang Auctions off Mining Rights

The mining rights for seven mines in China's far western Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have been sold for 182.5 million yuan (US$22 million) at auction, the biggest ever sale since the region privatized mining rights last December.

The auction will sell the rights to another 20 coal, copper, ferrous and other metal mines in the region by Monday. About 100 domestic mining enterprises bid at the auction, said the Guiyuan Auction Company.

Opening mining rights invited investment in the exploitation of the region's rich mines. To date, 210 deals worth 74.68 million yuan (US$9 million) have been concluded, according to the regional land and resources department.

Last December the regional government opened mining rights to the public, allowing prospectors to sell their output. Mining enterprises from home and abroad are allowed to prospect and exploit resources, except for oil and gas, which are reserved by the state.

Xinjiang has 138 varieties of mineral resources, 80 percent of the country's total. It has nine of the nation's biggest reserves, including natural gas, mica and Chile saltpeter, with high yields of oil, nickel, coal and mirabilite.

Xinjiang is expected to become another energy powerhouse of China after the eastern regions which have been exploited for 50 years. It has about 3,000 mining enterprises.

(China Daily March 7, 2004)

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