Huang Zelan has been working the land all his life. Born to a rural family in Gannan, a mountainous area in southern Jiangxi province, he started doing farm work when he was 11. It wasn’t until 1984, when he was 29, that Huang found a better way to turn a profit from the earth. Gannan has a reputation as a tungsten hotbed and when Huang saw others making money from the local mineral resources he started searching for tungsten himself, in rather primitive prospecting-style.
It’s all mine
In 1989, Huang began to upscale his operations as the county government was starting to lease some of its mining sites. Huang promptly raised Rmb5,000 (a larger sum at the time than it sounds today) and used it to start excavating the Guantian mine. He managed to become a successful local businessman.
The next step was to take on another challenge. In 1994, when the local government leased the larger Taoxikeng mine, Huang again bid for the project. His new charge was in dire straits: 100 years-old but deep in debt, and having failed to pay wages for months. Huang borrowed from the bank, laid off staff (streamlining the workforce from 18 departments down to two) and began to invest in new equipment. In 1996, he rented the county’s metallurgical and chemical plant (he subsequently bought it in 1999) allowing him to process more of the raw materials that his firm was digging up. This meant he could produce value-added alloy and carbide products, which he now exports to more than 20 countries.
Need to know
In 2000, Huang established Chongyi Zhangyuan Tungsten Products. A year later and it was transformed into a private enterprise that integrated the entire production process – from mining, through smelting and on to the sale of the finished product.
In 2009, Zhangyuan’s operating income was Rmb1.07 billion, with a net profit of Rmb118 million. And last year, the company went public in Shenzhen, raising Rmb559 million, which helped to cement Huang’s position as the richest man in Jiangxi.
With a fortune worth Rmb10 billion, Huang came 85th on the 2010 Hurun Rich List.
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