Two thirds of China's state-owned mines have entered the middle or final stages of their productive lives and about 400 mines are to shut down as they have been exhausted.
The information was released by Tian Fengshan, Minister of Landand Resources, at the 2003 work meeting of the China Geology Survey Bureau.
Tian also disclosed that China faced problems with its 45 main minerals as reserves lagged behind consumption, new resources became more difficult to find, and exploitation costs rose.
He said that in a bid to build a well-off society in an all-round way and meet the demand for more minerals caused by China's rapid economic development, the efficiency and quality of geological research must be improved.
The China Geological Survey Bureau regarded a survey of the country's strategic resources as its priority and had allocated huge financial and technological resources to find and exploit badly-needed minerals.
To date, the bureau had discovered a copper reserve with proven deposits of 4.6 million tons in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
In the central South China Sea, the bureau has found 41 oil-associated gas beds.
(Xinhua News Agency April 7, 2003)