China’s ambassador to Iceland Zhang Weidong 张卫东 was at China Nonferrous (中色) headquarters in Beijing last week, where he discussed the company’s aluminium smelter project in Iceland with chairman Zhang Keli 张克利 and Wang Hongqian 王宏前, second in charge at Nonferrous’ listed arm NFC. The ambassador highlighted the importance of the project, whose success could set the ground for more Chinese companies to take part in similar endeavours in the future. Chairman Zhang talked of China Nonferrous’ responsibility as a central SOE whose projects abroad, besides their economic significance, are important for the country’s image and foreign relations.
China Nonferrous’ formal commitment to the project so far has the form of what I understand is a non-binding agreement between NFC (中色股份) and local company Klappir Development, signed last July. The Chinese embassy has been involved all along, declaring their support for the project as early as 2013. The Chinese ambassador was present at the signature of the agreement in July, and a few days later toured the site of the projected plant and met with municipal government representatives.
In September, an Icelandic delegation paid NFC a visit in China. They were taken on a tour that included Jinjiang 锦江 Group’s aluminium smelter in Holingol (Chinese 霍林郭勒 Huolinguole, Mongolian Qoolin gool* Хоолингол) in Inner Mongolia, and two Shenyang-based companies controlled by China Nonferrous: NFC Metallurgical Machinery (中色沈阳冶金机械有限公司) and Northeastern University Engineering and Research Institute (NEUI, 东北大学设计研究院). The Icelanders are reported to have praised Chinese aluminium smelting technology and its high environmental standards.
Meanwhile in Iceland, Klappir are expecting to announce the start of the project next spring. NFC’ Wang talks of the Chinese and Icelandic sides both working for construction to start soon.
China Nonferrous are also active in Greenland. With the important proviso that their agreements there are also non-binding, they look poised to become the world’s northernmost miner at the Citronen fjord Zn+Pb project, in partnership with Ironbark, as well as GME’s partner at the Kvanefjeld U+REE mine. Both projects are advancing towards the production stage.
(Hat tip to Hjálmar Friðriksson.)
*This blog will implement Mongolian script toponyms as soon as I figure out the font and display issues. So far I’m going with the usual transcription. Here’s the name in Balk-Janhunen Romanisation, which I think deserves more publicity as a true transliteration system: Quuliv qhuul.