Min­er­als for the ben­e­fit of all cit­i­zens

Bhutan Times - - Editorial -

T he Min­istry of eco­nomic af­fairs has come up with the min­eral devel­op­ment pol­icy 2017 – a pet-project of the Tengye Ly­onpo. The work on fram­ing this pol­icy started as soon as the min­is­ter’s took of­fice.

If im­ple­mented, the pol­icy will ben­e­fit all the stake­hold­ers in­clud­ing the peo­ple at the grass­roots and the gov­ern­ment.

The Con­sti­tu­tion of the King­dom of Bhutan clearly states that the mines and min­er­als, the air we breathe, and the rivers: all be­longs to all of us. So we have to make sure that the benefits from these na­tional en­dow­ments ben­e­fit all the cit­i­zens.

To­day we have the pol­icy; it should ben­e­fit not only the pro­moter of min­eral in­dus­tries but the na­tion and com­mu­nity at large.

With the ab­sence of the pol­icy, although the min­ing con­trib­utes to the eco­nomic devel­op­ment of a coun­try, there are some neg­a­tive im­pacts to the lo­cal­ity in term of the per­sonal health and san­i­ta­tion. Un­mind­ful min­ing in some ar­eas has caused dam­ages to wa­ter sources and re­duc­tion in crop pro­duc­tion in the lo­cal­ity.

Now with this pol­icy, pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions will be con­ducted as per the pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion guide­lines. The con­sul­ta­tions shall fo­cus only on the af­fects of the pro­posed min­ing and re­lated ac­tiv­ity to the pub­lic and pri­vate prop­erty.

The pol­icy states that com­mu­ni­ties shall be in­formed about the man­age­ment and mit­i­ga­tion of po­ten­tial so­cial risks through­out the min­ing life­cy­cle.

When this pol­icy comes into ef­fect, com­mu­ni­ties can ne­go­ti­ate and avail benefits from the min­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. The pol­icy clearly stated that the min­ing com­pany should made com­pul­sory ser­vices to be ren­dered in terms of corporate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties (CSR).

Till now, the al­lo­ca­tion of the min­ing is done on first come first served ba­sis but with this pol­icy, the De­part­ment of Ge­ol­ogy and Mines and the min­istry will come up with min­eral al­lo­ca­tion frame­work.

Ear­lier, the lease pe­riod of the op­er­a­tion of the mines was less than 10 years. The new pol­icy au­tho­rizes the min­ing op­er­a­tor to op­er­ate for pe­riod of mines but not to ex­ceed 30 years as per the land act.

Min­eral devel­op­ment pol­icy clearly states that for the pur­pose of grant­ing of min­er­als rights, the min­er­als has been clas­si­fied into three cat­e­gories which in­cludes strate­gic, in­dus­trial min­er­als and con­struc­tion ma­te­rial. For the ob­tain­ing of the op­er­a­tion of the strate­gic min­er­als, this will be the pre­rog­a­tive of the gov­ern­ment which means an in­di­vid­ual can­not op­er­ate the min­ing if the min­er­als have the se­cu­rity im­pli­ca­tion like ra­dioac­tive.

But for the in­dus­trial and con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als, an in­di­vid­ual can op­er­ate the min­ing.

To­day the GDP con­tri­bu­tions made by the min­eral is less than three per­cent, but with the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pol­icy, the per­cent­age of GDP con­tri­bu­tion will def­i­nitely in­creased be­cause the min­er­als can be har­nessed in proper man­ner.

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