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Foreigners to work with Russia on mineral deposits - official

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MOSCOW, May 18 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is not preventing foreign investors from accessing mineral resources, but they will only be able to operate in conjunction with domestic companies, Russia's natural resources minister said Friday.

A pending bill on subsoil use limits foreign investment in strategic deposits.

"We are not preventing foreign investors from accessing Russia's subsoil, but we want foreign companies to develop unique and large deposits in close contact with Russian operators," Yury Trutnev said.

The subsoil use bill sets out the criteria and procedure for classifying deposits as strategic or "federal." These will include oil fields with reserves above 70 million metric tons (513 million bbl), natural gas deposits of over 50 billion cubic meters, gold deposits of more than 50 metric tons, copper deposits of over 500,000 metric tons, and all continental shelf deposits.

However, not all deposits meeting the criteria will necessarily be deemed strategic, a government source said earlier, adding that the list of federal deposits is subject to government approval.

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