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SEOUL, Jan 27 (Reuters) - South Korea said on Thursday local firms were likely to more than triple investment in developing minerals this year, as they intensify the search for rare metals in regions such as Central and South America and Africa.
About 25 South Korean firms are expected to increase 2011 investment more than threefold to $7 billion in overseas mineral resources, compared with $2.2 billion estimated for the previous year, the ministry of knowledge economy said in a statement.
Of the total, the private sector's $4.4 billion worth in spending would exceed that of the public sector.
Asia's fourth-largest economy will also boost investment in rare metals such as lithium and rare earths, which would account for 9 percent.
The country seeks to double self-sufficiency rates for "new strategic minerals" such as rare earths and lithium, to 10 percent in 2011 from 5.5 percent in 2010. [ID:nL3E6NF0X1] (Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)