Mining tycoon executed in China

Described as running a mafia-style gang, mining tycoon Liu Han was executed in China on Monday.

Liu, who was charged in 2014 along with dozens of other associates, was board chairman of Hanlong Group. In addition to mining the group had interests in electricity, energy, finance, real estate securities. Hanlong is listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Liu was 48.

Along with Liu, four others were executed: his brother Liu Wei, Tang Xianbing, Zhang Donghua and Tian Xianwei. A total of 34 other defendants were netted in the same investigation. The group received a mixture of sentences ranging from two years to life.

Before Liu's downfall last year, the tycoon put together a string of mining deals. He owned 14% of Australia Sundance Resources. The company had plans for an iron ore mine in central Africa.

Liu also had a molybdenum project in Nevada, which was profiled by the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Liu, a little-known Chinese business mogul, is the primary financier for a $1.3 billion plan to blast the top off a hill called Mount Hope just north of Eureka to remove its lode of metal called molybdenum. Mount Hope, adjacent to the old Pony Express Trail in central Nevada, holds one of the world's biggest undeveloped deposits of the silvery element moly, used to harden steel for advanced applications such as piping for nuclear-power plants.

The Bureau of Land Management last month authorized the mine to operate, greenlighting a project that promises to make Mr. Liu—a 46-year-old who likes driving fast cars and making bold commodity bets—a powerful voice in global moly trade. The Nevada mining deal—along with a similar moly play by Mr. Liu in Australia—illustrates how a budding class of Chinese private investors suddenly has the wherewithal to upend entire sectors.