UPDATE 1-China Minmetals plans expanded logistics arm

(Adds details, background)

BEIJING, March 6 (Reuters) - China’s state-owned Minmetals Corp plans to consolidate its logistics business into an independent subsidiary and boost the unit’s annual capacity, its president Zhou Zhongshu said on Thursday.

Minmetals, the country’s largest base metals trader, plans to double the annual transportation capacity of the unit to 100 million tonnes in coming years, Zhou told reporters at the sideline of the ongoing National People’s Congress.

China’s logistics sector, which has expanded rapidly in recent years but continues to pose bottlenecks for the country’s fast-growing economy, has drawn a number of new entrants.

Zhou also proposed that China set up a national mining development fund for domestic and overseas projects, under the initiative of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, which manages $200 billion.

“We suggest that the China Investment Corp take the lead, in cooperation with major domestic metals and minerals enterprises, to develop domestic and overseas mineral resources,” Zhou said.

Minmetals, parent of Hong Kong-listed Minmetals Resources Ltd 1208.HK and Shanghai-listed Minmetals Development 600058.SS, is studying plans for a listing of the whole group, Zhou said, although he gave no details about a timeframe or potential size of the offering.

The company aims to acquire domestic city commercial banks and trust companies, Zhou said, although he mentioned no specific targets.

He also expected that the company’s Indian iron ore pellet project would start production next year.

Minmetals Corp and pipe manufacturer Xinxing Ductile Iron Pipes Group formed an iron and steel making venture in India late last month with a total investment of $72 million for the initial phrase, the first major Chinese investment in that country’s steel industry.

The joint venture will have annual production capacity of 2.5 million tonnes of steel and 6 million tonnes of iron ore pellets, Minmetal has said. (Reporting by Pily Zou and Coco Li; Writing by Alfred Cang; Editing by Edmund Klamann)