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Mines Sector

Minerals are valuable natural resources but are finite and non-renewable. Accordingly, Bhutan’s policies on mining and quarrying consider inter-generational equity. This is important since minerals constitute vital raw materials for the mineral based manufacturing industries and are a major resource for economic development of a country. The management of mineral resources has to be closely integrated with the overall strategy for development and long-term national goals. Only about 33% of the country has been geologically mapped and prospected in 1:50,000 scale. 

There is potential for further discovery of minerals in the unexplored parts of the country. From the past exploration it has been found that the country is endowed with rocks, industrial minerals like limestone, dolomite, gypsum, quartzite, graphite, talc etc and metallic minerals like tungsten, lead-zinc and copper. Non-renewable resources will be used in a sustainable manner to diversify the economy while at the same time ensuring due environmental considerations. This sector will form an important part of the supply chain to industries and the construction sector by providing a consistent source of raw materials. The Policy shall facilitate the mining sector to overcome the challenges of essential resource constraints, environmental degradation and low value addition.

A country’s economic development is often measured in terms of the availability of natural resources and the potential for its exploitation and income generation. Bhutan is endowed with rich mineral resources that has allowed for the sustainable growth of a mineral based industry and export base. This mineral resource exploitation and value addition has helped generate employment and can contribute towards poverty alleviation.

The Department of Geology and Mines has the primary responsibility of geological mapping and exploring for additional mineral deposits and the management of mineral resources of the country. In addition, the department has been mandated to conduct geological investigations for slope stability and foundation, undertake risk assessments from Glacial Lake Outburst Floods, monitor glaciers and glacial lakes and carry out seismic studies. Since GLOF forms a major threat, the Department of Geology & Mines shall establish a division for Glaciology and GLOF.

Policy and Strategies

The strategic objectives of the Geology and Mining sub-sector are:

  • Metallic and non-metallic mineral resources discovery;

  • Enhance mapping coverage with geological mapping in 1:50000 scale;

  • Preparation of site suitability, hazard and risk maps for selected areas;

  • Mitigation measures at potential dangerous lakes against GLOF;

  • Monitor glaciers and glacial lakes;

  • Seismic data generation for earthquake studies;

  • Establishment of mineral tiles registry for mineral and mining data management;

  • Environment friendly utilization of mineral resources.

Targets for the Geology and Mines Sector

  • Discover and prove more deposits of metallic and non-metallic mineral resources

  • More parts of the country geologically mapped in 1:50000 scale

  • Site suitability, hazard and risk maps for selected areas made available

  • Research and analysis centre set up and research works initiated

  • Remote sensing and GIS laboratory established

  • Mitigation measures at Thorthormi lake in Lunana carried out

  • Report on regular monitoring of glaciers and glacial lakes published

  • Early warning system at Punakha-Wangdue valley installed for GLOF hazard mitigation

  • Prospecting for oil using geophysical methods carried out

  • Seismic network established

  • Establishment of Mineral Titles Registry

  • Best Practice guidelines for mines and quarries developed

  • Mining law and policy reviewed and approved

Financial Outlay for the Geology and Mines Sector

The indicative total capital outlay for geology and mines sector is Nu. 241.575 million.

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