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News from China
Chinese miners talk to Barrick on stake
27th October 2016

 CHINA’S Zijin Mining Group Co and Shandong Gold Mining Co have held separate talks with Barrick Gold Corp to buy a 50 percent stake in its Veladero gold mine in Argentina, according to four sources with knowledge of the process.

Veladero is one of Barrick’s five core mines; all are in the Americas. It is set to produce between 580,000 and 640,000 ounces of gold this year.

The high quality of the mine, production capacity and the prospect for geographical diversification have appealed to the Chinese suitors, said three of the sources, who requested anonymity because the matter is private. All spoke over the past week.

Barrick, the world’s biggest gold miner, has not launched a formal sales process for Veladero, and there is no certainty that the talks will result in a transaction, the sources said.

A potential sale of a 50 percent stake could fetch Barrick over US$1 billion, two of the sources said.

Barrick, Shandong and Zijin declined to comment.

“It’s a sensible thing to reduce risk, and bringing in a deep-pocketed partner can help,” said John Stephenson, president of Stephenson & Co Capital Management, who acknowledged that it is very difficult to make a joint venture work “in the best of times.”

“In a tighter operating environment with lower commodity prices, it’s important to keep a focus on costs. I think this is a positive move for Barrick,” he added.

Last month, operations at Veladero were shut down for more than two weeks after a cyanide spill at the high-altitude mine. This was the second cyanide spill at the mine in a year.

The deal would be the latest instance of Chinese companies investing in Latin America’s resource-rich commodities sector, partly to help meet domestic demand. Chinese investors have poured billions into Latin American acquisitions in recent years, buying into copper and iron ore miners, oil and gas concessions and power grids.

Barrick would like the buyer of the Veladero stake also to make an investment in its Pascua-Lama project in South America, two of the sources said.

The gold and silver project, which straddles the border of Argentina and Chile in the Andes Mountains, was put on hold in 2013 due to environmental issues, political opposition, labor unrest and development costs that ballooned to US$8.5 billion.

Last year, Barrick and Zijin formed a strategic partnership, with Barrick selling a stake in its Papua New Guinean mine to the Chinese company.

Source: Shanghai Daily, October 27, 2016
Progress in advanced production on show
26th October 2016

 CHINA’S progress and achievements in advanced manufacturing will be displayed at the 18th China International Industry Fair, which will also serve as a platform to integrate investment and business among global manufacturers, the Shanghai city government said yesterday.

To be held from November 1 to 5 at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai, the fair will show domestic industrial achievements made in equipment manufacturing, smart manufacturing, information and aerospace research. It will also display developments in robots and industrial automation.

Russia, which is the country of honor at this year’s fair, will showcase its advanced industrial software.

Of the 2,308 exhibitors, 30.2 percent are from abroad, including industrial giants such as Germany’s Siemens and Bosch, and US-based information technology provider Intel.

A report on foreign investment in Shanghai’s manufacturing industry will be released on November 2 at the investment promotion conference where a “collaborative contract signing between foreign and local manufacturers can be expected,” said Chen Mingbo, director of the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Technology.

Source: Shanghai Daily, October 26, 2016
Weak sentiment cools housing market
25th October 2016

 SHANGHAI’S housing market cooled last week as sentiment among both home seekers and real estate developers weakened as government measures to tame rising prices began to take effect.

The area of new homes sold, excluding government-funded affordable housing, fell 6.8 percent from the previous week to 219,000 square meters, Shanghai Centaline Property Consultants Co said in a report released yesterday.

The city’s outlying areas continued to be the most sought-after, with around 55,000 square meters of homes sold in Nanhui in the Pudong New Area during the seven-day period when 358 apartments were sold in two projects.

The average cost of new homes plunged 9.1 percent from the previous week to 40,563 yuan (US$5,990) per square meter, the lowest weekly data since August, according to Centaline research.

Notably, not a single apartment or house was launched in the local market last week — a rare occurrence for October which is considered a high season for property transactions.

“A wait-and-see sentiment started to prevail in the city’s housing market as further tightening measures by the government to rein in soaring home prices and curb property bubbles are changing the mind of some prospective buyers,” said Lu Wenxi, senior manager of research at Centaline.

“Transaction volume will fall further as home purchase restrictions as well as stricter mortgage policies will be both implemented to dampen speculative demand,” Lu said.

Source: Shanghai Daily, October 25, 2016
Li urges efforts to close BIT talks early
24th October 2016

 PREMIER Li Keqiang has called on China and the United States to make efforts for an early conclusion of their bilateral investment treaty negotiations.

The two countries have agreed to BIT talks on the basis of pre-establishment national treatment (PENT) plus a “negative list” approach. It is the first time that China has adopted the model in BIT talks with foreign countries, Li said, noting that this showed the importance China attaches to BIT talks.

PENT means that foreign investors and their investments will be accorded national treatment in the pre-establishment phase of their businesses.

Li told visiting former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in Beijing that through the BIT talks, both sides sent a positive signal to the world that China and the US support trade and investment facilitation and liberalization.

China hopes the two sides will work flexibly and pragmatically on the talks to produce positive results and reach a high-level investment treaty, so as to realize mutual benefits, Li said.

China and the US started BIT negotiations in 2008.

Speaking highly of the Paulson Institute’s role in promoting China-US cooperation, Li urged the institute to make a greater contribution to a healthy and stable China-US relationship.

Li’s trip to New York last month yielded positive results and was beneficial to China-US ties, Paulson said, stressing that the institute was ready to enhance exchanges and cooperation with China.

Yesterday, Vice Premier Wang Yang held a meeting with Paulson and members of the CEO Council of Sustainable Urbanization to exchange views on China-US economic ties, as well as other issues of common concern.

Source: Shanghai Daily, October 24, 2016

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