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Big Energy Project Launched in Ningxia

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China on Monday began the construction of eight coal mining, power and chemical projects worth about 40 billion yuan (US$5.8 billion) in the northwest in an effort to drive domestic demand and promote economic growth.

The projects in the Ningdong area in Lingwu City and Wuzhong City, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, included three coal mines with a total annual capacity of 22 million tonnes and three power plants with a combined capacity of 4.4 million kw.

"The construction of the Ningdong coal, power and chemical industry base is an important move to expand domestic demand and promote the country's stable and relatively fast economic growth," said Zhang Guobao, National Energy Administration's director, at the ground-breaking ceremony.

Zhang said the projects could drive the development of relevant industries and would be crucial in helping the energy industry to tackle the global financial crisis.

Analysts estimate the projects, which would be put into operation in 2011, will create some 45,000 jobs. Also, the region can supply four million kw of electricity annually to the economically developed Shandong Province after the projects are completed.

Ningxia has a proven coal reserve of more than 30 billion tonnes, 87 percent of which is in the Ningdong area.

The projects could make full use of Ningxia's coal-rich advantage and give an impetus to the social and economic development of the ethnic minority-inhabited areas, said Yuan Jinlin, director of the region's Development and Reform Commission.

China's economy grew 9 percent annually in the third quarter, down from 10.4 percent in the first half, as growth in exports and property investment slowed.

To maintain economic growth, the country is striving to rely more on domestic demand to offset the impact of the global economic recession as external demand for its goods fell. The measures included the reduction of its interest rates, the formulation of 10 major measures aiming at expanding domestic demand and the investment of 4 trillion yuan within two years.

On November 21, the country began the construction of a nuclear power station in eastern Fujian Province at an investment of nearly 100 billion yuan. Construction on another nuclear power plant in neighboring Guangdong Province is expected to begin in December.

(Xinhua News Agency December 16, 2008)