Zone of Peace
China's Largest Mining Company Announced Plans to Make a Major Push into Tibet.
Tina Wang, 09.04.08 Forbes
China's largest mining company announced plans to make a major push into
Tibet, a politically volatile area that is rich in copper, chromium, and
other mineral deposits.
The country's largest miner, Aluminum Corp. of China (nyse: ACH -news -
people ), or Chinalco, is investing 250 million yuan ($36.5 million) to
scout the region, the company's Web site said. A newly established unit,
China Aluminum Tibet Mining, will conduct exploration, metals smelting,
and sales activities.
A controversial railway link between Beijing and Lhasa that was built in
2006 has opened up a cheap transportation route between Tibet and the rest
of China, and the Ministry of Railways plans to expand Tibet's rail
The Yulong copper deposit in southeastern Tibet, China's largest copper
deposit, already has drawn domestic mining companies. Western Mining and
Zijin Mining Group plan to begin digging in September. Chinalco currently
operates a smelting plant in the Amdo region in eastern Tibet.
Pro-Tibet groups have criticized Canadian and Australian mining companies
for setting up exploration activities for mines, which activists charge
harm local water supplies and the ecosystem, step up immigration of Han
Chinese into the region, and offer Tibetan communities few of the
resulting economic benefits. Canada-based Continental Minerals (otcbb:
KMKCF.OB - news - people ) drew protests at its headquarters in 2006 when
its plans to open a copper and gold mine in Tibet became public. The group
has inked a preliminary
agreement with Jinchuan Group to develop the mine in the Xietongmen region.
In 2003, Australia's Sino Gold withdrew exploration activities for a gold
mine in the Jinkang region of eastern Tibet following fierce criticism
from Tibet groups around the world. Chinalco said in its Web statement
that it aims to adopt a socially responsible development strategy.
The company acquired a 9% stake in Rio Tinto for $14.1 billion in February
and expects to raise its interest to 11% (See " Australia Steps Out Of
In noon trading in New York, Chinalco American Depositary Receipts were
down 69 cents, or 3.37%, to $19.81
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