Photo: Gold nugget
Venezuela and China have signed an agreement to develop one of the South American country’s largest gold mines, one of a series of bilateral accords reached in different areas.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said during a brief address broadcast by state-run VTV television that an agreement was signed Friday to develop the Las Cristinas gold and copper mine, which he touted as one of the largest “gold reservoirs” in Venezuela and the world.
Las Cristinas, located in the southeastern state of Bolivar, is one of the planet’s largest untapped gold mines with reserves of more than 16 million ounces, equivalent to 500 tons.
An agreement also was signed to draw up Venezuela’s “mineral deposits map,” a project of great importance for the country’s economic and social development, Chavez added at the Miraflores palace after meeting with representatives of Chinese state-owned conglomerate CITIC Group.
Oil and Mines Minister Rafael Ramirez later said the project will involve the exploration, quantification and certification of mineral reserves throughout Venezuela.
“It’s a five-year project that, in addition to quantification and certification, will involve creating a database that currently doesn’t exist in our country,” Ramirez said.
He added that the CITIC Group currently is fulfilling its contract to build 33,000 homes in Venezuela and has completed 24,000 thus far, including industrial condominiums in the vast Orinoco Oil Belt.
“It’s a very important, very large complex. We’re just now in the basic engineering stage, and CITIC also is going to help us develop non-oil infrastructure (in the Orinoco region),” Ramirez, who is also CEO of state-owned oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA, said.
For his part, the president of the CITIC consortium, Chang Zhen Ming, said he represents “China’s largest conglomerate” and that the accords signed Friday will help “Venezuela’s economic development.”
Venezuela, one of the world’s largest oil producers, has rapidly expanded its trade ties with China in recent years.
In the oil sector, the two nations have signed refinery construction deals and contracts for the sale of 640,000 barrels of Venezuelan crude per day to the Asian nation.