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China's Western Mining to launch Qinghai copper smelter in October

Western Mining Co. Ltd. is aiming to begin commercial production at its 100,000-tonne-per-year copper smelter in China's northwestern Qinghai province in October, Reuters reported Sept. 6.

The project, which saw an investment of 2.4 billion to 2.5 billion yuan, is undergoing test production with output expected to ramp up gradually after commercial launch, said Chairman Yongli Zhang.

The smelter will account for about one-tenth of the roughly 1 million tonnes per year of new copper smelting capacity that is scheduled to be commissioned in China this year.

The company is aiming to have assets across the copper value chain, said Bai Yongqiang, deputy secretary of the party committee at the company.

Western Mining will also invest around 8 billion yuan on the second-phase expansion at its Yulong copper mine in Tibet over the next two years.

The expansion will see the mine's annual processing volume rise to 20 million tonnes, or 130,000 tonnes of metal content, by the end of 2020, said President Li Yibang. The mine capacity stands at 2.3 million tonnes per year of ore.

The Chinese miner is also tapping Qinghai's salt lake resources to produce battery minerals, such as lithium carbonate and magnesium hydroxide. Its magnesium hydroxide output is seen rising from 100,000 tonnes per year to 500,000 tonnes per year by 2020.

Western Mining is also investing 10 billion yuan in the magnesium business.

As of Sept. 6, US$1 was equivalent to 6.84 Chinese yuan.