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3 Chinese firms to develop Afghan copper mine
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China Metallurgical Group Corporation, Jiangxi Copper Corporation and Fujian Zijin Mining Group Company Limited jointly obtained the right to develop the biggest Afghan copper mine, Aynak copper deposit, with their offer of over US$2.87 billion, the Afghan Ministry of Mines announced recently.
Aynak copper deposit is one of the world's largest copper mines with proven reserves of 690 million tons of copper ore containing about 1.65 percent or 11.3 million tons of copper. The Aynak reserves consist of about one third of China's total proven copper reserves. Some geologists even believe that Aynak might be the world's largest copper mine.
Afghan Minister of Mines Ibrahim Adel said that this deal was the biggest investment in Afghan history, with about 10,000 people expected to work there. Its present copper reserves are more than 10 million tons and are likely to rise to 20 million tons, with copper values at about US$ 30 billion under present prices, he said.

China Metallurgical played the main role during bidding; Jiangxi Copper Corporation and Fujian Zijin Mining Group Company acted as shareholders. China Metallurgical will invest US$3 billion in this project over the next few years, a related responsible person inside the company claimed.

Jiangxi Copper Corporation also stated that the successful bidding would guarantee its sufficient supplies of copper over the following ten years.

International copper prices have risen twice since 2004. Enormous profits have lured world's mine giants to Afghanistan searching for copper. Nine mining companies from China, Canada, Russia, America and India took part in the competitive bidding for Aynak mine.
Due to rising domestic demands China has become the world's largest copper consumer, consuming about 4 million tons or 22 percent of the world's total supply last year.

Currently only a few state-owned enterprises own copper resources abroad: China Nonferrous Metal Mining Group acquired 85 percent of the shares of the Chambishi Copper Mine in Zambia in 1998; China Minmetals Corporation signed a deal with Chile's National Copper Corporation to supply 836,250 tons of copper cathode last year; Aluminum Corporation of China purchased Canada's Peru Copper Inc. this August thus securing an agreement to explore Peru's Toromocho copper mine.  

( by Zhang Ming'ai, November 23, 2007)

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