Burma Democratic Concern has the firm determination to carry on doing until the democracy restore in Burma.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Burma on New China ‘Watch List’ for Resources

BANGKOK—China has put Burma on a special “watch list” for potential acquisition of urgently needed natural resources, including coal, gold and copper as well as oil and gas.

All China’s land border neighbors are the subject of a resources study with a view to future acquisition, Beijing’s Ministry of Land and Resources has disclosed in the Chinese official media.

The study follows a the rejection of some takeover bids made by Chinese state firms in minerals-rich Australia, where China has already spent billions of dollars acquiring coal and gas assets.

State-owned Chinese companies venturing abroad are backed by huge national reserves of more than US $2 trillion, and the results of the neighbors’ resources study will be assessed by Beijing’s ministry of finance, the China Business Journal reported.

The study includes Burma, Mongolia, Russia’s Siberian Far East, Vietnam, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the paper reported.

It comes as China prepares to become Burma’s biggest natural gas buyer, after it acquired all the gas to be produced from two blocks in the Shwe offshore field in the Bay of Bengal.

But despite huge and increasing imports of gas and oil, China’s main fuel remains coal and millions of tons are being bought from Australia, Indonesia and South Africa.

China is also the world's biggest buyer of copper, iron ore and some foodstuffs.

Burma has coal, copper and gold.

The recent discovery of new coal reserves in Burma was highlighted by Chinese state media only this week.

“Newly found coal in the Mongma area holds the highest deposit of quality coal and it is estimated to yield thousands of tons of the mineral annually,” said the People’s Daily, noting that China is among several countries vying to help develop Burma’s coal industry.

Burma and Beijing signed a deal on mining among 15 cooperation agreements during a visit in early June by China’s Premier Wen Jiabao.

“One of China’s big five energy firms, the Guodian Corporation, is supposedly going to build a coal-fueled electricity generating plant in Burma, but there must be doubts about that as much of Burma’s current coal output is exported to China and Thailand,” industry analyst-consultant Collin Reynolds told The Irrawaddy this week.

“Burma is desperately short of electricity but Chinese know-how would be needed to revamp Burma’s power transmission infrastructure for any expansion in power capacity to be any use.

“China’s Yunnan Province adjoining northern Burma is also desperately short of electricity and coal,” Reynolds said.

According to unspecified “statistics” Burma has 82 “coal mining blocks” which “produced 233,983 tons of coal in the fiscal year 2009-10,” the official Chinese news agency Xinhua said this week in a report on Beijing’s new assessment of its neighbors assets.

“Burma's generals have never hesitated from selling out their country's resources for short-term cash or political protection, and so we cannot see this latest announcement from China as anything but confirmation that the scouring of Burma will go on and on,” prominent Burma economy analyst Sean Turnell told The Irrawaddy.

“In a country where nothing else can be relied on, this one is in the back of the net,” he said, referring to China’s assessment of Burma’s natural resources.

Turnell is an economics professor at Macquarie University in Australia and co-editor of the Burma Economic Watch bulletin.

Despite its highly polluting nature—except maybe when burned in costly plants using the latest technology—coal is being increasingly seen in Asia as the best cheapest substitute for oil and gas.

To underline this trend, Thailand’s state oil and gas giant PTT announced just this week that it intends to expand its acquisition of coal resources abroad.

PTT’s offshore gas fields in the Gulf of Thailand, as well as concessions held by its subsidiary PTTEP in Burma, supply about 70 percent of Thailand’s electricity generating fuel.

But the Thai government has ordered diversification of power fuel to reduce dependency on gas

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