China’s top miner says it ‘will be targeted’ amid US risks

Tibet. (Image by Göran Höglund (Kartläsarn), Flickr).

Zijin Mining Group Co., one of China’s most acquisitive metals groups and its biggest listed miner, warned that US-led efforts to tackle Beijing’s control of minerals could slow the company’s global expansion, warning that geopolitical tensions are “becoming increasingly grim”.

The attempted containment of China by developed nations was now commonly understood, and Zijin “will be targeted for sure” given its leading role in the industry and plans for more acquisitions, Chairman Chen Jinghe said on a media call on Monday. “The development of the Chinese economy and the Chinese mining industry is becoming more difficult,” he added.

Beijing’s dominant role in mining supply chains — especially in “critical minerals” vital in industries from electric vehicles to military hardware — has led the US and European Union to push for greater reliance on materials produced domestically or by friendly nations. That poses a risk to the growth of Zijin, which has bought copper and gold mines from Canada to Africa, and expanded into lithium in a bid to become a key player in the battery material.

Chen’s comments came after Zijin said on Friday that it planned to ramp up output of all its metals by 2025 through major acquisitions, including of “ultra-large mines or mining companies with global influence.” The company will remain active in its global development, despite “geopolitical tensions becoming increasingly grim,” Chen said Monday.

Zijin also delivered an outlook for its major commodities in its annual results. Here are some of the key comments:

  • While gold is getting support from central-bank buying, the upside could be capped if the US economy achieves a “soft landing”. Uncertainty over the pace and magnitude of Federal Reserve cuts will drive volatility.
  • Copper will “continue to exhibit significant fluctuations” amid global supply disruptions and uncertainty over demand from key sectors including autos and real estate in China, or in regions including the US and Europe
  • The global zinc market is expected to be tightly balanced, and mining costs will support a bottom for prices
  • Lithium producers are already responding to low prices for the battery material by cutting supply, and lithium should have strong support at about 100,000 yuan a ton. That’s just below recent prices.


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