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Wanted - Tibetan Mining Professionals

posted Sep 7, 2011, 6:29 PM by The Tibetan Political Review   [ updated Sep 8, 2011, 7:32 AM ]
By Tsewang Namgyal

I was concerned to read the recent article titled: Make Tibetan plateau an Exploitation Free Zone for World Community's Benefit. The general purist policies advocated by the research report (although well motivated) could be disastrous for a future free Tibet if it discourages young Tibetans from pursuing mining as a career option.

We desperately need experienced Tibetans, who we can trust, to take the lead in mining development when the right opportunity arises. It takes many years of education and experience to develop such expertise. Proper mining development, besides tourism and hydro electricity, has the greatest opportunity to anchor a future free Tibet’s economy. The taxes generated from mining could be used to pay for our education, health, culture and other social services. We need to learn from the lessons in Mongolia since we share the same Buddhist culture and are more similar in size and resources than Bhutan.

The question on Tibet’s environmental fragility is a legitimate concern but I believe the realistic questions should be how we can achieve (i) minimal negative impact on Tibet’s environment and (ii) how Tibetans can benefit from it. Only by asking the right questions I believe we will find the right answers.

Metal analysts anticipate that the world will require about 200,000 tons of copper each year for the next ten years. Even in developed countries such as the United States and Canada they are forced to open up environmentally fragile regions for development despite global warming and other environmental concerns. I believe as long as consumers (including us) demand metals for transportation, communication, infrastructure and housing the mining sector will continue.

There is currently an extraordinary opportunity for young Tibetans who want to become wealthy and also do good to study, get experience in the mining sector (through work and buying shares in it) and joining reputable mining companies. Perhaps work in mining projects in other parts of the world such as Mongolia, United States, India, Australia and Canada will provides the hands on experience to take back to Tibet when the time is right. Not all mining companies are the same. There are many reputable mining firms that abide and meet stringent regulatory standards. There are also many reputable International Banks who finance mines that abide by the Equator Principle guidelines (

I am not aware of even one Tibetan who has substantial mining expertise while we sit on reserves worth billions. I do understand there are few Tibetans in Tibet who work in mom and pop mining firms. Mining is a very complicated business and unless one has experience in it, it would be difficult to give real concrete suggestions on project structures that would mitigate environmental problems and benefit local people.

For those Tibetans who have interest in the mining sector, there is a number of mining consulting firms whose sites share information related to the trends in the sector and offer industry training programs. Here I would like to recommend two: for those who may have interest.

For our researchers and policy makers I sincerely appreciate your efforts. However, I would encourage you to propose more balanced policies taking into consideration economic development besides the environment. If not, we will have neither.

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