September 20, 2011 / 3:43 AM / 9 years ago

China-N.Korea JV starts production at copper mine

HONG KONG, Sept 20 (Reuters) - A new copper mine in North Korea, majority owned by China’s Wanxiang Resources, started production on Monday and is expected to supply up to 70,000 tonnes of copper concentrate per year to China.

The copper mine, in Hyesan in North Korea’s Ryanggang province, was operated by Hyesan-China Joint Venture Mineral Co, China’s Xinhua News Agency reported late on Monday, adding that the joint venture was set up on Nov. 1, 2007, between Wanxiang and North Korea’s Ministry of Mining Industries.

The mine was located a few miles from the Chinese city of Changbai in the northeastern province of Jilin and was 51 percent owned by Wanxiang, a source with direct knowledge of the project told Reuters on Tuesday.

The mine had a designed annual capacity of 50,000-70,000 tonnes of copper concentrate, expected to contain 20-30 percent copper, he added.

“All the concentrate will be sold to China,” the source said.

The source said the joint venture would conduct second-phase construction to expand the capacity of the mine if production ran smoothly, but did not give details on timing or expanded capacity.

China is the world’s top copper consumer but does not produce sufficient concentrate to meet demand. The country imported 3.4 million tonnes of copper concentrate in the first seven months of 2011, down 11 percent from a year earlier. (Reporting by Polly Yam; Editing by Chris Lewis)

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