The world's number one soft drinks group the Coca-Cola Co. is looking to invest US$12m in its Chinese operations.

The money will be spent on building a new bottling plant in Gansu, a province in the northwest of China.

To be situated in the city of Lanzhou, the facility will have the capacity to produce 24m cases a year when it starts operations at the end of 2004.

Coca-Cola (China) Beverages Ltd said in a statement that the plant will serve the 57m consumers who live in five provinces in the northwest China region.

The facility is owned by COFCO Coca-Cola Beverages Co, a joint venture between Coke and COFCO International Ltd. part of the state-owned China National Cereals Oils & Foodstuffs Import & Export Corp.