A Chinese-run gold mine in ex-Soviet Tajikistan has produced its first gold, state media reported Monday, highlighting Beijing's deepening interest in the impoverished Central Asian country's extractive sector.
State television showed footage of Tajikistan's President Emomali Rakhmon clutching two gold ingots produced at the Pokrud gold mine and announced investments totalling $256 million at the mine to date.
The mine operated by the Pokrud Chinese-Tajik joint venture is expected to produce around 1.3 tonnes of gold per year initially, with production rising to 2 tonnes per year later, the TV report said.
The mineral concession just south of the capital Dushanbe is one of several operated by Chinese companies.
Notably a leading Chinese gold producer Zijin Mining operates the Zarafshan concession in the north of the country and expects to produce five tonnes of gold there annually in the coming years.
Tajikistan, a landlocked country of over 8 million that borders both China and Afghanistan suffers from an absence of foreign investment and looks to Beijing to help prop up the domestic economy.
Remittances from over a million nationals working in Russia have fallen sharply on the back of a contagious financial crisis prompted by Western sanctions against Moscow and falling oil prices.