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Chinese firms bag India copper mining contracts
by Staff Writers
Mumbai (AFP) Dec 30, 2011

Three Chinese firms have bagged contracts worth nearly $105 million to help India's only copper miner Hindustan Copper Ltd meet a target of boosting its output four-fold, the company said on Friday.

Wenzhou Construction Group of China and India's Maheshwari Mining won an engineering and construction contract worth $18.3 million to develop mines in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan.

Two other Chinese mining firms, Laiwu Steel Group Mine Construction Ltd and Sinosteel Engineering Design and Research Institute, won a $39 million project at HCL's Surda mines in eastern Jharkhand state.

Wenzhou and Maheshwari Mining have also got a $48 million contract to develop Chapri-Sideshwar, another mine in Jharkhand state.

Shakeel Ahmed, chairman and managing director of state-run Hindustan Copper, told AFP that the contracts were awarded in early November.

"We saw global competitive bidding and contracts were awarded through a transparent two-stage bidding. They (Chinese firms) bring value of project execution," he added.

Shares in the Kolkata-based firm jumped 15.96 percent to reach a high of 188.5 rupees intraday at the Bombay Stock Exchange, following initial media reports of the news. They closed at 186.25, up 14.5 percent.

Ahmed said the Chinese and Indian firms that won bids would be responsible for engineering, procurement and construction activity.

The contracts are expected to help boost production at Hindustan Copper four-fold from 3.4 million tonnes to 12.4 million tonnes over the next five years, he added.

Work will begin in earnest in the coming months, said Ahmed.

Ahmed has previously said that boosting mining capacity would be a key focus for the company in 2012 to improve sustainability of profits.

Relations between China and India have often been fraught, principally over disputed border territory in the far east and northwest of India and the presence of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, on Indian soil.

Despite growing bilateral trade ties, both countries remain suspicious of each other as they increasingly compete for resources and influence overseas.

In May 2009, India restricted imports of Chinese telecom equipment because of fears that spyware might be embedded in it.

Chinese firms are already building steel plants in India but this is their first move in helping to develop copper mines, the Economic Times business daily said on Friday.

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