Long ago, Asia and Africa were fused, part of a supercontinent we call Pangaea. Over 225 million years they separated geologically, but today, the two continents are coming together again -- this time economically.

An earlier wave of cooperation between the two cultures led to the development of petroleum assets with Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) including CNOOC (NYSE:CEO) and Sinopec (NYSE:SNP). Momentum appears to be building for a second wave of strategic relationships for mining base metals such as copper, nickel, lead, and zinc.

The Democratic Republic of Congo recently announced a bilateral agreement with a consortium of Chinese companies to form a joint venture funded with a commitment of $9.25 billion. Significantly, $6 billion of that investment will be used in Africa to construct roads, railways, power plants, hydroelectric dams, universities, airports, and hospitals. In return for their investment, the Chinese companies gain a 68% interest in resources, which include 10.62 million tonnes of copper and 620,000 tonnes of cobalt.

Using joint ventures to attach crucial development loans onto mining development projects, China is packaging offers that are difficult to beat. Unfortunately, the companies taking part in these deals are not readily available to foreign investors. That may change, however, as China has announced plans to accelerate listing SOEs.

Meanwhile, Fools might take a look at Aluminum Corporation of China (NYSE:ACH). With a small stake in Rio Tinto (NYSE:RTP) and a stated strategy of building itself into a leading international polymetallic company, I believe that Chinalco, its parent holding company, is well-positioned to have several smaller mining SOEs subsumed under its corporate umbrella.

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