The aluminium firms and Sidor have been the target of protests and worker strikes over poor working conditions and low wages.

Chavez said loans worth $250.4M would be distributed between five aluminium companies, with half disbursed in dollars and half in Venezuela’s bolivars.

The money is being drawn from a joint Chinese-Venezuelan fund set up in 2006 and must be repaid within five years, but will not accrue interest, Chavez added.

The funding is part of Chavez's plan to fully nationalise the aluminium and steel sectors over a period of 10 years, he said.

The bulk of the process is scheduled to take place between 2012 and 2019, and the Venezuelan leader has said he hopes to run and be re-elected for another term in order to continue the programme.