Head of top Chinese copper smelter falls to his death

SHANGHAI, June 25 Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:05am EDT

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SHANGHAI, June 25 (Reuters) - Chinese authorities are investigating the death of the head of Tongling Nonferrous Metals, the country's second-largest copper smelter, after he fell from a building, the company said.

Wei Jianghong, who was also chief executive of the state-owned firm, died on Tuesday morning, Tongling said in a statement to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

The statement gave no more details on his death, but it comes after a number of high-profile suspected suicides of executives from large state-owned firms since President Xi Jinping launched a campaign against graft last year.

The state-run China Business News said Wei, 52, who was also a delegate to the National People's Congress, jumped from a hotel owned by the company in Tongling, a city in the eastern province of Anhui.

Telephone calls to Tongling's spokesman seeking further comment went unanswered.

Bai Zhongren, the former president of China Railway Group, fell to his death in January, following a corruption probe into the now-defunct railway ministry. The former chairman of Harbin Pharmaceutical Group Sanjing Pharmaceutical Co. also died in a similar manner in May while being investigated for corruption.

Beijing's anti-corruption campaign, which had focused on energy giant PetroChina earlier this year, has begun to turn to the mining sector and authorities are also investigating a suspected metal financing fraud at Qingdao port, China's third largest.

Mao Xiaobing, ex-chairman of Shanghai-listed Western Mining Co Ltd and a senior official in Qinghai province, has faced a corruption probe since April, while former mining tycoon, Liu Han, founder of the private Hanlong Group, was sentenced to death last month over charges including graft.

Shares of Shenzhen-listed Tongling, which produces more than one million tonnes of copper a year, closed down 4.4 percent at a two-month low on Wednesday after news of Wei's death.

The company said operations remained normal and its vice-chairman, Yang Jun, would stand in as chairman. (Reporting by Fayen Wong and Polly Yam; Editing by Ed Davies)

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