Minerals for the benefit of all citizens
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.