China will make noncommercial geological data available to foreign investors beginning July 1. The new regulations will enable foreign investors to better assess potential risks in mineral exploration and development projects. Although foreign investment in China's mineral industry has been permitted since the 1980s, foreign investors have been hampered by lack of access to basic geological data.
The new regulation is the latest attempt by China to shake off the legacy of decades of reflex classification of even the most basic economic, geographical and geological data as state secrets.
The new regulation reclassifies geological data into the categories of commercial and noncommercial. Noncommercial geological information would be provided free of charge. To reduce the bureaucratic difficulties of requesting data, the ministry plans to standardize geological data collection measures in order to streamline access to the more than 5 million entries in its geological data bank.