This week in Pierce Points:

E&Ps kept their good credit. A survey of U.S. oil and gas producers shows bank lines have been cut much less than expected.

China hinted at a plan to control Asia’s copper. Officials want to buy concentrate and build smelters along the Silk Road.

Ecuador’s mining sector rebranded itself. The government is offering better tax rates to re-attract up to $1.5 billion in investment.

Two private equity giants dumped their shale holdings. Energy specialists ArcLight and Denham Capital are selling to a Chinese real estate firm.

A massive coal reserve got new life. Botswana’s stranded deposits will be turned into liquid fuels by a new $4.2 billion project.

A Journey Along Copper’s New Silk Road

Further to the second item above, it’s looking like copper developers need to head to Asia.

This part of the world has been a focus for years now when it comes to copper consumption. But news emerging about China’s plans here suggest the region may become equally important in another aspect of the market.

Copper production.

China’s growing focus on securing copper supplies from the “Silk Road” corridor makes perfect sense. Why not look in your own backyard? It’s the same reason that U.S. mining and exploration firms tend to focus on Mexico, Australian companies specialize in Southeast Asia, and London-based exploration outfits are Africa-savvy.

And the wave of Chinese investment along the Silk Road may signal a major opportunity for those holding the right projects in this region.

China’s Silk Road economic belt extends west through Central Asia and into eastern Europe.

That’s because the amount of investment here is setting up to be huge. With China already having announced it will spend up to $16 billion on gold supplies from the Silk Road.

If that’s the figure for gold, then it’s a safe bet China’s investments for strategic Silk Road copper supply will run into the tens or even hundreds of billions. A nice purse to be a part of.

So where will this boom unfold?

Existing production data gives us some ideas on where to start looking.

As the chart below shows, current options are fairly limited when it comes to copper production. China itself dominates the space, followed by Asia-ish Australia.

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