In 2010, the company had earned a profit of RMB2.7bn.

Xiong Weiping, Chinalco general manager said the improved profits were due to the company’s efforts to diversity its business structure, which helped the company cushion the negative impact of falling metals prices.

He admitted profit had fallen since October as a result of the European debt crisis.

Mr Xiong said Chinalco faced many challenges in 2012 including the slowdown of global economic growth triggered by the debt crisis in Europe and shrinking demand for commodities.

To deal with the challenges, he said, this company will spare no efforts to continue to promote business transformation.

The company is focusing on five areas including aluminium, copper, rare earth metals, iron ore and coking coal.