A record number of projects have been approved for funding under the Western Australia-China economic and technical research fund.
Deputy Premier and State Development Minister Ian Taylor said more than $500,000 had been allocated to six major research projects.
"This decision by the fund's joint board, chaired by Professor Ross Garnaut and comprising high-ranking officials from the Chinese Government and steel industry and Western Australian representatives, is a reflection of the buoyant nature of the Chinese economy and their eagerness to do business with this State," Mr Taylor said.
The projects designated for funding were:
· stage three, four and five of the slope stability study which is looking at the problem as it relates to the entire open-pit mining industry;
· the direct reduction iron plant feasibility study;
· language training program for Chinese Ministry of Metallurgical Industry (MMI) personnel;
· a research project on the effects on Western Australia and China of the Channar Joint Venture;
· the exchange of mining equipment/service investigating groups; and -
· a training program for MMI senior marketing executives.
Three projects have already been completed as the result of a fund which was set up through royalty collections on the first year of operation of the Channar mine in WA.
These were the extraction of gold from copper-gold ore/bacterial oxidation of arseno-pyrite ores; Pilbara iron ore processing cost comparison study and an analysis of training needs for the Chinese.
"Some of these projects will have immediate benefit to WA," Mr Taylor said.
"If the results from the DRI study are encouraging, the next management meeting of the fund could be brought forward to review the project and to encourage Australian and Chinese companies to pursue it.
"The exchange of mining equipment and service investigating groups will provide export opportunities for WA companies and the training program for senior marketing executives from China's iron and steel industry will assist WA iron ore companies to form closer personal contacts in one of their market places.
"The Chinese domestic demand for steel has risen sharply and in the first eight months of this year steel production increased by six million tonnes, compared with the same period last year.
"There is no question that the iron and steel co-operation between WA and the Chinese will become the most important part of the economic relationship between our two countries.
"The projects supported under the fund will help further cement that relationship."