China's top gold firm talking to Barrick, has Friedland 'hotline'

China's largest gold mining company, China National Gold, is officially setting up shop in junior mining hub Vancouver this week as part of a push into new markets and its global acquisition strategy.

President Xin Song told the Wall Street Journal ahead of Wednesday's event, the Beijing-based firm is on the hunt for global acquisitions and partnerships in gold, silver and copper:

"The growing strategy is very clear, we are going out looking at things globally. On our hands we have a few opportunities, at different stages."

Song, who also chairs the China Gold Association, has not ruled out acquisitions in developed countries, such as Canada, Australia and the US, but the main focus of its expansion strategy is assets in the region including in Mongolia, Russia and countries in central Asia.

Investments in "politically stable" countries in Latin America and Africa are also being considered Song said.

Rumours were circulating last year that China Gold could buy into Ivanhoe Mines, Robert Friedland's latest creation with copper projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo and platinum mines in South Africa.

Song told the paper China Gold has a long relationship with the billionaire mining financier:

"We keep a hotline" open with the entrepreneur, he said. "But we need to figure what the advantage points where we can work together. Just like a marriage we have to know the common benefit."

China National Gold also confirmed recent talks about potential partnerships with Barrick Gold, the world's top listed gold producer.

Song said at the moment these opportunities are not likely to include an investment in the giant Pascua Lama project straddling Chile and Argentina. Barrick stopped construction of Pascua Lama in October as part of its debt-reduction program and after fierce opposition from local communities and environmental groups.

The Toronto-based miner has already spent $5 billion on the project which could have a final bill in excess of $8.5 billion after a series of cost overruns.

Image of Ao, a giant turtle in Chinese mythology, outside Zhaoyuan, China's official city of gold, located in Shandong province.