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China vows not to let Tibet's mine reserves ‘just sleep there’

(TibetanReview.net, Aug14, 2011)  China is to accelerate investment in exploration of mineral resources in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) in the coming five years, given its large proven and potential reserves of vital deposits, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Aug 13. Tibet has abundant mine reserves but little exploration has been done so far, the report cited the TAR’s Chinese boss Zhang Qingli as saying in an exclusive interview with Xinhua's Economy and Nation Weekly.

Initial studies show that the TAR has the PRC's largest chromium and copper reserves, while most of its rich iron, gold, silver, potassium, oil and natural gas reserves remain unexploited, the report said.

The report cited government statistics as showing the TAR holds 102 varieties of proven minerals underground that were worth about 650.5 billion yuan (US$100.6 billion). It cited the region's land and resources department as forecasting that the mining industry could contribute some 30 percent of the TAR's gross domestic product by 2020, compared with 3 percent at present.

Although there have been large scale protests against environmental poisoning and the protesters have been beaten and jailed, without showing even a pretence of addressing their concerns, Zhang has claimed that the purpose of mining was "to benefit the local people".

"We won't let Tibet's mine reserves just sleep there,” Zhang was quoted as vowing,  while also claiming, “we also won't allow the ecology to be damaged by unregulated mining."

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Last updated on Aug 14, 2011 15:58:16