By JOE McDONALD
BEIJING (AP) â¿¿ A Chinese tycoon with ties to mining companies in the United States, Australia and Africa is missing and a newspaper says he has been detained by police.
Sichuan Jinlu Group said Thursday it is looking for its chairman, Liu Han, and has been unable to contact him by phone.
The newspaper Shanghai Securities News said Liu was detained by Beijing police in mid-March while on a business trip to the Chinese capital but gave no indication why he might have been picked up. Chinese police regularly detain people for lengthy questioning without charge or public notice.
Liu's main company, Sichuan Hanlong Group, owns a 13 percent stake in General Moly, a Colorado miner of molybdenum, a mineral used to harden steel. Hanlong was arranging financing for a General Moly mine in Nevada.
A Hanlong spokesman who would give only his surname, Su, said, "I am unclear about this," when asked whether Liu was detained and where he was.
General Moly said in a statement Wednesday it suspended work on a $665 million loan for its Mt. Hope mine from the state-run China Development Bank until it receives clarification from Hanlong.
Hanlong also owns 14 percent of Australia's Sundance Resources, which is developing an iron mine in Congo and neighboring Cameroon in central Africa. Hanlong is offering 1.5 billion Australian dollars ($1.5 billion) to acquire the rest of the company but Sundance said this week the deal has yet to receive final approval from China's economic planning agency.
Sundance asked Wednesday for trading in its shares on Australian markets to be suspended while it seeks information from Hanlong about Liu.
Liu's Hanlong is part of a wave of Chinese energy and mining companies that are buying assets abroad in Australia, Africa and elsewhere in hopes of profiting from growing global demand.