China is to launch a $16 billion gold investment fund focusing on gold mining projects across central Asia. The fund will buy stakes in gold mines and develop a gold exchange traded fund. This latest initiative will enable Chinese miners to jointly explore the 16 gold producing regions in Central Asia. In total around 60 countries will invest in the fund, which will also facilitate gold purchases for the Central Banks of the member states.

Yesterday Barrick Gold announced it has formed an alliance with the Chinese gold producer Zijin Mining. In a joint statement the two companies outlined their intention to collaborate on future projects and leverage the strengths of the two companies.

According to a report published by Shanghai Securities News, the gold fund is part of a bigger project to create a new wider economic block stretching from China’s western boarder all the way to Europe. The project which is commonly referred to as the new “silk road” is part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s plan is to double the size of the country’s economy over the next 10 years. Xi believes the Silk Road project will generate an additional $2.5 trillion of trade over the next decade and will include significant investment in the regions energy and transport infrastructure.