China and Tajikistan embarked on a new $200 million gold and antimony mining venture Sunday, the Tajik presidential press service said, as Beijing expands its hold over the impoverished Central Asian country's mineral resources.
On Sunday a groundbreaking ceremony was held for a mine that is expected to produce its first gold and antimony in 2020.
The venture between Tajikistan's state-owned aluminum smelter Talco and Chinese company Tibet Huayu Mining Co., Ltd is expected to produce 1.5 tons of gold annually and 16,000 tons of antimony.
China has acquired rights to a number of mineral concessions in Tajikistan in recent years, some in exchange for Chinese loans and investment in other areas of the economy.
Total deposits at the mine that will be operated by the newly created and jointly owned company Talco Gold are estimated to be 50 tons of gold and 265,000 tons of antimony, according to the presidential press service.
This year another Chinese company TBEA acquired the rights to operate a mine in Tajikistan's northern Sugd region as partial compensation for its construction of a power plant.
The poorest country to emerge from the wreckage of the Soviet Union in 1991, Tajikistan is strongly dependent on Chinese investment for its largely agrarian economy.
Much of the Chinese investment has been facilitated by state-owned Export-Import Bank of China, to which Tajikistan reportedly owes more than $1.2 billion, equivalent to nearly a fifth of its GDP.