Juba — China has pledged a grant of $43 million to finance improvements to South Sudan's mining industry, with the funds expected to arrive by the end of the month, South Sudanese Petroleum and Mining Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau said Monday.
Among the projects that will be funded by the Chinese grant will be a geological survey that will help to map South Sudan's mining riches.
Geological surveys conducted in the 1970s and '80s show that South Sudan may have rich deposits of gold, copper and uranium. But since those surveys were conducted, South Sudan's mineral resources have remained unexploited.
South Sudan's Parliament passed a mining law in March that allows international firms to receive five-year exploration permits. The first step toward getting a permit is a geological survey, which would indicate where a company should dig.
Dau said there is no ongoing exploration in South Sudan's mining sector at present.
South Sudan is also in the early stages of talks with China about a development loan of $1 billion to $2 billion, and about further Chinese investments in South Sudan's petroleum and mining industries, Dau said.
Chinese Ambassador to South Sudan Ma Qiang said he is encouraging Beijing to step up investment in Africa's, and the world's, newest nation, where a report dated August 2011 by US advisory group Ergo says Chinese companies already control the oil industry, the source of most of South Sudan's revenues and the target of the vast majority of foreign direct investment in South Sudan.