[Ferro-alloys.com]China's outbound investment in mining assets rose 83 percent to $24.8 billion last year on the back of the nation's growing appetite for commodities, industry experts said on Monday.
Ban Yongzhi, an official with the foreign investment and cooperation department of the Ministry of Commerce, said China's outbound investment in the mining sector reached $106 billion by the end of 2013 and accounted for 16 percent of China's overall outbound investment.
During the first nine months of this year, China's outbound non-financial investment reached $74.9 billion, up 21.8 percent year-on-year, according to the ministry.
"At present, 1,397 Chinese companies have invested in foreign mining assets like oil and gas exploration, ferrous and non-ferrous metals exploration and refining," Ban said. "Chinese mining companies are accelerating their steps in overseas markets."
Under the new foreign investment management guidelines that were implemented from this month, companies only need to maintain records for outbound investments projects rather than having to get official approvals.
"Up to 99 percent of the projects require only records and a few ones involving sensitive countries or industries still need to go through the approval process," Ban said. "The new guidelines will boost Chinese companies' outbound investment, especially in the mining sector."
China has reduced the approval process for domestic companies that want to invest overseas from 15 days to about three days.
He said many companies chose to invest abroad because they need to improve their production techniques and to be a part of the global supply chain for raw material sourcing.
The Zhejiang-based and privately held mining firm Huayou Cobalt Co Ltd decided to invest in cobalt and copper mining, processing and refining plants in Africa in 2006.
Huayou Cobalt was initially a trading company.
But as China's demand for cobalt, an important raw material for batteries, grew, and with about 90 percent of the demand coming through imports, the company decided to invest in the cobalt mines of Africa, Li Xiaodong, vice-president of the company, said.