Chinese state-owned metals trader China Minmetals Corp is looking to buy gold mines in Australia and Canada, a senior executive said on Thursday.

Huang Dongmei, deputy general manager of China Minmetals Exploration and Development Ltd, made the remarks at an industry forum in China's port city of Tianjin.

Separately, a Minmetals executive at the China Mining conference here said on Wednesday that the company would launch construction at its Galeno copper mine in Peru next year, with production due to start in 2012. [ID:nPEK200915]

State-owned Minmetals, founded in 1950, is the country's largest base metals trader, engaged in mining, smelting, production and trade of basic metals and raw materials, and competes with the other big state-run trader, Sinosteel, in iron ore and steel.

China has pressed ahead with its strategy of targeting foreign resources through the economic downturn, but its plans have hit a few obstacles, most notably Chinalco's failure to clinch a $19.5 billion deal with Rio Tinto.

China Minmetals reported sales of 180.9 billion yuan ($26.6 billion) last year, and a net profit of 7.1 billion yuan, up from 6.8 billion yuan in 2007. The company has two listed units -- Minmetals Resources in Hong Kong, which controls its aluminium business, and Minmetals Development Co Ltd in Shanghai.

Minmetals President Zhou Zhongshu has led the company since 2004, having joined the company in 1978 as a clerk in human resources. Zhou, who is also Minmetals' Party Group Secretary, graduated in Spanish from Shanghai International Studies University and joined China's Communist party in 1971.

(Additional reporting by Don Durfee in HONG KONG)

(Reporting by Joseph Chaney, Shen Rujin; Editing by Michael Flaherty and Chris Lewis)