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China taking a step deeper into mining in Central Asia

TheChina Geological Survey has been working with its counterparts in Central Asiancountries on cross-border geological maps for mining resources in the region,according to Li Wenyuan, director of the local bureau of China GeologicalSurvey at Shaanxi province's capital city Xi'an.

Litold SNL Metals & Mining at the sidelines of Xinjiang-Central Asia MiningDevelopment Forum on July 23 that the department is setting up representativeoffices in Central Asia to further such cooperation between China and fivecountries in the region — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan andTajikistan.

Asthe Central Asia area is adjacent to northwest China, a research center was setup in Xi'an, a regional transport hub, in 2014 to lead the cooperation,according to Li.

Chineseauthorities also expanded such cooperation to membercountries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which is expected topromote China's mining investments in these countries, Li said.

"Chinesemining companies that plan to invest in Central Asia will benefit from theprogram, as it can provide a better understanding of geological conditions inthe area," Li said.

Li expected the joint geologicalwork to drive more investments in explorationfrom the private sector. "The government must lead the way, especiallywhen the mining industry is in its downturn," he said.

While a nextstep for such cooperation is subject to further discussion among governmentleaders, Li expected the joint exploration work to lay the ground work for theestablishment of a state-backed regional exchange center for mining andexploration rights for Central Asia.

"China'sOne Belt, One Road initiative is expected to boost transactions in mining industries in thearea but currently the market lacks of an exchange center [for mining andexploration rights]," he said, adding that it would possibly be set up at China's northwestern region.