China Western Mining to start up Tibet copper plant

SHANGHAI, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Western Mining Co 601168.SS, China's seventh-largest copper miner, said on Wednesday it will launch trial production on Friday at a smelter at its Yulong copper mine, the country's largest copper deposit in Tibet.

The plant will produce at most 2,000 tonnes of refined copper by the end of the year if the trial run is successful, according to a company statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

By 2010, the plant is expected to have production capacity of 20,000 tonnes, the company said.

Yulong has proven reserves of more than 6.5 million tonnes of copper in ore and prospective reserves of 10 million tonnes. Western Mining holds a 58 percent stake in the mine.

Western Mining shares on the Shanghai Stock Exchange were trading at 6.78 yuan on Wednesday morning, down 20 percent this month and trailing the Shanghai Composite Index's .SSEC 12 percent decline.

A unit of Goldman Sachs GS.N owns just over 8 percent of Western Mining. (Reporting by Rujun Shen; Editing by Ken Wills)