Zhaojin Mining Industry said the central government was likely to impose stricter safety and environmental protection policies on the metals mining industry in light of recent deadly accidents. Shandong province-based Zhaojin, one of the mainland's four largest gold producers, has been forced to close six of its mines since August 7 following a fatal fire at a nearby operation belonging to another company. Chairman Lu Dongshang said yesterday he expected the mines to be re-opened in a few days. Each day's closure of the mines, which account for 80 per cent of the firm's total output, would result in 20 kilograms of lost output, he said. 'I believe production will resume within a few days,' he said. 'After conducting safety inspections and training, we have already reported our status to the Yantai city government. The latest news [yesterday morning] is that this procedure is close to finishing but we still have to wait for the final notice for the mines' reopening.' If the shutdown lasts 12 days, lost output would amount to 1.7 per cent of the targeted output of 450,000 ounces. First-half production was 218,600 ounces. Asked what impact the recent major pollution incident at Zijin Mining in Fujian and the mine fire in Shandong that killed 16 workers would have, Lu said: 'The incidences have attracted great concern within the State Council and the State Administration of Work Safety. I believe it is very likely that the central government [will] roll out more severe policies.' Mining waste spills killed and poisoned more than 2,000 tonnes of fish in the Ting River downstream from Zijin's copper mine in Shanghang. Lu said Zhaojin had invested up to 50 million yuan (HK$57 million) on mine safety and more than 20 million yuan on pollution control in each of the past few years. As part of its expansion outside Shandong, Zhaojin has made six acquisitions since March involving a total of 539.1 million yuan, in Xinjiang, Gansu, Liaoning, Guangxi and Australia. Of these, the purchase of a 55 per cent stake in Baiyun mine in Liaoning would add 10,000 ounces of output a year, the 80 per cent stake in a mine in Qinghe, Xinjiang will add 10,000 ounces a year and the acquisition of a mine in Fengcheng, Liaoning will add 15,000 to 20,000 ounces a year. Zhaojin is also in talks to invest in another two mines in Central Asia and Australia, and four more on the mainland. Zhaojin plans to invest 250 million to 400 million yuan to raise the Qinghe mine's ore processing capacity seven-fold and up to 300 million yuan to double that of the Fengcheng mine. At the weekend, the firm reported a 75.5 per cent year-on-year jump in first-half net profit to 561.2 million yuan, after a 20.9 per cent jump in output from its mines and a 27.5 per cent jump in the average selling price.