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China's Jiangxi Copper to develop Afghanistan copper mine when situation allows

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By Min Zhang and Shivani Singh BEIJING, Sept 13 (Reuters) - China's Jiangxi Copper Co Ltd said on Monday that it and the Metallurgical Corp of China (MCC) are monitoring the situation in Afghanistan and will push forward with the Mes Aynak copper mine when they can.

The company and MCC took on a 30-year lease for the mine in 2008, which has an estimated reserve of 11.08 million tonnes of copper. Jiangxi Copper holds a 25% stake in the project. "Due to the unstable situation in Afghanistan, the Mes Aynak copper mine invested by the company has not yet undergone substantial construction," Zheng Gaoqing, the chairman of Jiangxi Copper said at an online briefing.

The company would monitor the situation and push forward construction of the project when it can, he said.

The Islamist Taliban took control of Afghanistan last month, ousting a U.S.-backed government as U.S. and other international forces withdrew after a 20-year mission. Mes Aynak, about 40 km (25 miles) southeast of the capital, Kabul, is also the site of ancient Buddhist ruins and campaigners have called for their preservation. Meanwhile, the Jiangxi firm is also prioritising gaining resources as its top strategy and would seek mines globally for investment opportunities, according to Zheng.

"The rise in copper prices has brought direct benefits to the company's own ores," said Zheng, adding that he expected copper prices would stay at high levels given an optimistic outlook for solar power and new energy consumption. Copper prices on China's Shanghai Futures Exchange have surged more than 21% this year, propped up by recovering demand and global economic stimulus.

Jiangxi Copper had reported its biggest quarterly net profit fir the April-June period in 10 years in August. (Reporting by Min Zhang and Shivani Singh, additional reporting by Mai Nguyen)
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