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Cuba has approved the creation of a new ministry with sole responsibility for the key industries of energy and mines.

"Cuba's Council of State approved the extinction of the Ministry of Basic Industry and the creation of the Ministry of Energy and Mines by decree No. 301 of this year," official daily Granma cited an official statement as saying on Thursday.

The creation is part of the government's bid to transform the former giant Ministry of Basic Industry into smaller, more efficient ministries.

Its former head Alfredo Lopez Valdes will head the new ministry, which will exclusively oversee the energy and mining sectors, including the state-run oil company Cubapetroleos and the nickel producer Cubaniquel.

Other economic activities will be handled by another newly-created Ministry of Industries and other national authorities.

Cuba hopes to achieve energy independence by exploiting deep-sea oil reserves in its exclusive economic zone in the Gulf of Mexico despite its recent failed attempts to find viable deposits.

In 2011, Cuba produced 21 million barrels of oil and 1.1 million cubic metres of natural gas, which met about half of the country's energy needs.

Cuba is one of the world's largest producers of nickel and supplies 10 percent of the world's cobalt, according to official data.


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