The first white paper on industry policy is trying to encourage overseas investment in related services The central government has issued a policy blueprint which encourages foreign exploration of untapped resources in the country's western region and foreshadows the establishment of a regulatory framework to guide overseas investment by mainland miners. In the country's first white paper on mining policy, the government said it wanted more technology, management know-how and talent to be introduced into the mainland. It also called for increased Sino-foreign trading and investment in mining-related services. In the past, the government's focus had been on luring foreign cash injections into mainland projects. Since October 2000, the central government had allowed foreigners to set up wholly owned or joint-venture operations to conduct mineral exploration and was further opening its resources to foreigners. 'The Chinese government has kept to its promises arising from its entrance into the World Trade Organisation,' Xinhua quoted the white paper as saying. 'It has eradicated regulations that do not agree with rules set by the organisation and granted foreigners the same mining rights as Chinese citizens.' The mainland remains an attractive market for exploration, given that just 10 per cent of more than 20,000 sites with mining potential have been explored. 'The vast western region, deeper mining layers of the east and offshore territories are only lightly explored,' the paper said. 'These are areas for future development.' Natural resources are a key force behind the country's rapid industrialisation, accounting for about 92 per cent of primary energy consumption and 80 per cent of industrial raw materials. Meanwhile, Ministry of Natural Resources director of mineral reserves Zhao Quenian was quoted as saying the central government planned to set guidelines to monitor investments in overseas resources exploration by mainland firms. The guidelines would be based on international practice, with the objective of promoting and protecting mainland firms' investments overseas, as well as regulating and co-ordinating such activities. A spokeswoman for H share Aluminum Corp of China (Chalco), the mainland's largest alumina and aluminium producer, said the move was probably aimed at establishing a framework for overseas investments, which remain scant so far but are set to increase as domestic supply falls short of demand. Chalco is in talks about investing in a Vietnamese bauxite exploration project and is seeking similar opportunities in Australia. The mainland's alumina self-sufficiency is expected to fall further from 51.9 per cent this year and 69.7 per cent in 2000 as consumption growth has far outstripped the increase in domestic refining capacity. A spokesman at H share Jiangxi Copper said a joint venture with four other copper producers to buy into foreign mines last year had yielded little progress.