UPDATE 1-Head of top Chinese copper smelter commits suicide due to stress - company

Wed Jun 25, 2014 9:31am EDT

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SHANGHAI, June 25 (Reuters) - The chairman of Tongling Nonferrous Metals, the country's second-largest copper smelter, committed suicide due to work-related stress, the company said on Wednesday, citing the results of a police investigation.

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

"Preliminary investigations by authorities, which included surveillance videos on-site and interviews with relevant personnel, suggests Wei Jianghong committed suicide due to immense work-related stress and long-term insomnia," the company said in a statement.

The statement gave no further details.

Shares of Shenzhen-listed Tongling, which produced 1.2 million tonnes of copper last year, closed down 4.4 percent at a two-month low on Wednesday after news of Wei's death.

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 the copper smelting firm's spokesman seeking further comment went unanswered.

Wei's death 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.

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., Liu Zhanbin, 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.

Tongling said operations remained normal and its vice-chairman, Yang Jun, would stand in as chairman.

The firm saw its 2013 net profit fall 38 percent from a year before to 572.6 million yuan ($92.22 million) as a sluggish global economy and tapering growth at home dampened demand and pressured copper prices.

($1 = 6.2090 Chinese Yuan Renminbi) (Reporting by Fayen Wong and Polly Yam; Editing by Ed Davies and Pravin Char)

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