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Characteristics of China's Mineral Resources(2006)

Updated: 2007-06-28 14:57

Energy Mineral Resources

China's energy mineral resources are relatively abundant, but the structure of these types of resources is not ideal.  The proportion of coal resources is relatively large while that of petroleum and natural gas resources is small in comparison.

Characteristics of Coal Resources

i) Huge in reserves;

ii) Complete in variety but of uneven grade with only small reserves of high quality coking coal and anthracite coal;

iii) Widely distributed with a great disparity in the abundance for different reserve locations, with the western and northern regions rich and eastern and southern regions poor in coal reserves;

iv) Resources are deep in the eastern region and shallow in the west (a small number of surface coalmines, most of which are lignite mines);

v) Many varieties of associated minerals existing in the coal seam.

Characteristics of Petroleum and Natural Gas Resources

i) Large oil reserves which makes China one of ten countries in the world with more than 15 billion tons of exploitable petroleum reserves;

ii) Low proven rate. Only 1/5 of the total onshore reserves are proven reserves, and the offshore rate is even lower;

iii) Distribution is concentrated, with 73% of the total petroleum resources in China distributed in 14 basins covering a total area of 100,000 square kilometers and more than 50% of the total natural gas resources in China distributed in the middle and western regions;

iv) Deeply buried petroleum and natural gas resources and complex geological conditions.

China also has a wealth of other energy mineral resources such as geothermal resources and oil shales.

Metallic Mineral Resources

China is among the countries that possess relatively rich metallic mineral resources. More or less all types of metallic mineral resources that have been discovered worldwide up until now have been proven to have certain reserves in China, of which the proven reserves of wolfram, tin, stibium, tombarthite, tantalum and titanium resources are the largest in the world; proven resources of vanadium, molybdenum, niobium, beryllium and lithium resources are the second largest in the world; zinc resources are the fourth largest in the world; and iron, lead, gold and silver resources are the fifth largest in the world.

Characteristics of Metallic Mineral Resources

i) Wide but relatively concentrated distribution. Iron deposits are found mainly in three geographical areas-Anshan-Benxi, North Hebei and Shanxi; bauxite resources are mainly distributed in areas such as Shanxi, Henan, Guizhou and Guangxi; wolfram deposits are mainly distributed in Jiangxi, Hunan and Guangdong; and tin deposits are mainly distributed in Yunnan, Guangxi, Guangdong and Hunan.

ii) Some of China's metallic resources such as wolfram, tin, molybdenum, stibium and tombarthite have large reserves and are of high quality, and are competitive in world markets.  However, many key metallic resources such as iron, molydenum, aluminum and copper are of poor quality and most of the iron, molybdenum, aluminum and copper ores are lean and therefore difficult to smelt.

iii) Most of the metallic mineral deposits in China are of small or medium size. Large and super-sized deposits are very few.

Non-Metallic Mineral Resources

China is one of the few countries in the world that has a relatively complete range of varieties of non-metallic mineral resources. Presently, there are more than 5,000 non-metallic mineral ore production bases with proven reserves in China. Most of the non-metallic mineral proven reserves in China are of a large scale, of which the proven reserves of magnesite, plumbago, fluorite, talc, asbestos, gypsum, barite, wollastonite, alunite, bentonite, halite etc. are among the largest in the world; while those of phosphorus, kaolin, pyrite, mirabilite, tripolite, zeolite, pearlite and cement limestone etc.are some of the most major in the world. China also has superior quality and high reserves of some natural stone materials such as marble and granite. On the other hand, reserves of sylvite and boron in China are rare.

Water and Gas Resources

Proven natural underground water resources in China account for 870 billion cubic metres per year, of which 290 billion cubic  metres  are  exploitable.  Underground salt water resources in China amount to 20 billion cubic metres per year. China's underground water resources are not evenly distributed, with southern regions rich, and northern and western regions poor.  Underground water aquifer types differ according to geographical location. Northern regions have a wide distribution of underground water resources via holed aquifers while south-western regions are karst regions.


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