Mineral Resources of China

China is one of the few countries in the world with vast resources featuring both enormous quantities and a high degree of completeness. China’s mineral resources take the following characteristics: 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.

China’s coal resources show the following characteristics: huge reserves;complete in variety but of uneven grade with small reserves of high quality coking coal and anthracite coal;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;a small number of surface coalmines, most of which are lignite mines;and many varieties of associated minerals existing in the coal seam.

Petroleum and natural gas resources demonstrate the following characteristics:oil reserves are large,which makes China one of the 10 countries in the world with more than 15 billion tons of exploitable petroleum reserves; proven rate is low,with verified onshore reserves accounting for only one-fifth of the total and the proven rate for offshore reserves being even lower; distribution is concentrated,with 73 percent of the total petroleum resources in China distributed in 14 basins covering a total area of 100,000 square km and more than 50 percent of the total natural gas resources distributed in central and western regions; petroleum and natural gas resources are buried deep and geological conditions are complex; and China also has a wealth of other energy mineral resources such as geothermal and oil shale resources.

Distribution of China’s mineral resources is outlined as follows:they are distributed in all provinces and autonomous regions, municipalities and counties. However, distribution varies from region to region due to the differences in the geotectonic zone and minerogenic conditions and vast differences are seen in mineral types, amount of reserves and the quality of minerals. Thus, mineral resources distributed in eastern, central and western regions have different characteristics.

The eastern region is downstream of China’s major rivers and is mainly covered with plains occasionally separated by hills. With even terrain, an advanced network of rivers and close proximity to the sea,China’s eastern region provides convenient transportation conditions. As a leading region in China’s economic development and opening to the outside world, the area is highly industrialized and urbanized, with prominent advantages in science and technology and economic development. It holds an important position nationwide in terms of its production of raw material industries.

The central region has abundant energy, multi-metal and non- metallic mineral resources. More than 20 kinds of mineral resources account for 50 percent or more of their respective total reserves. The central region is the major base for China’s fundamental industries such as energy and raw materials. The region’s output of raw coal and crude oil accounts for more than 50 percent of the national total respectively. The coal industry plays a key role in the country's national economy. The coal-rich areas in Shanxi Province and its surrounding regions form the largest energy resources base in China. Daqing Oilfield and Zhongyuan Oilfield are both large petroleum bases in China. The output of copper and phosphorus ores in the central region accounts for 40 percent of the country’s total.

The concentrated distribution of mineral resources in the western region produces a strong comparative advantage for the area and provides a strong foundation of resources for pillar industries. Among the 157 mineral resources with proven reserves throughout the country, 138 are found in the western region. The area is rich in nonferrous metal resources and a major reserve area for nonmetallic mineral resources. There are also many kinds of metallic and nonmetallic ores of high grade found in the region