Mine, not everybody’s business

Business puts its head, where more money lies but maybe not always. And Yangphel as a promulgator for successful ventures in many areas stands testament to it.

Yangphel proved its acumen in unconventional areas of business like holding archery tournaments which now has become a massively nationwide popular event under its flagship.  Besides that it runs a chain of resorts, a tour company, an automobile workshop, a real estate, and to add another feather to its cap, it owns 20% of the Bhutan Insurance Limited (BIL) shares.

So it’s an imminent query, why not the mining sector?

Although some people had advised on getting into this business, the company stepped back because it went against the company’s policy, which is, not delving into a business that would have adverse environmental impacts.

A Yangphel representative said that the company had nothing against others who were already in or going in for this business and did not want to comment on other’s business policies.

Speaking to the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (BCCI) Vice President, Thinley Palden, he said it was good that Yangphel believed in their policies.

Thinley Palden said since Yangphel was into the tourism business and not the mining business, so it was likely for them to delve into their area of expertise.

On being questioned of what he thought of the mineral extraction business he said mineral extraction was essential because without it life would not be the same.

“The homes we live in comes from mineral extraction, the electrical wires comes from copper, cars’ fuel is the oil that has been extracted, so mineral extraction is important or otherwise we would be living in caves,” said Thinley Palden.

The Construction Association of Bhutan’s President and the Vice Chairman of Singye Group of Companies, Ugen Tsechup agreed on the importance of mineral extraction but only if one complied within the framework of the environment rules and regulations strictly otherwise it could have adverse impact on the environment.

Ugen Tsechup’s lines gels with the National Environmental Commission (NEC)’s study, which had been conducted in 2009, where the report states that there have been ‘less than’ satisfactory compliance to rules and regulations by both regulators and operators.

“Everything is good and everything is bad, it is just that how people go about it,” said Ugen Tsechup.

On the Yangphel front, Ugen Tsechup said it was their own personal choice and that every company had its own strength and weaknesses, and Yangphel understood where their strengths lied, i.e. tourism and they were comfortable in it.

Gasa National Council (NC) MP Sangay Khandu said it was an accepted fact that mining cases disturbed and damaged the environment as the magnitude of impact on environment depends upon the geological formation of the mining area and the method of mining operation.

“All mines in the country are of open-case type which could affect the environment by changing landscape, Ph medium of soil and water, flora and fauna, and socio-economic aspects,” said Sangay Khandu.

Mineral extraction is a profitable business, and is hugely evident from the increasing numbers of mines and quarries. Between the years 2008 to 2012, a total of 96 mines and quarries were leased by the Department of Mining of which 25 mines and 38 quarries are active. Of this Thimphu has two mines and 25 quarry leases that are active.

According to a Department of Geology and Mines (DGM) official, Karma Chophel, currently there are 28 mines and 44 quarries holding valid licenses and operating.

Karma Chophel said that alongside the 100 and more applicants, there were more than 100 pending.

The DGM official said there were more people vying for a quarry license rather than for mining because on mining sector only raw materials could be exported, whereas on the other hand for quarries there was already an available domestic market.

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  1. The "TRUE" Bhutanese

    [“The homes we live in comes from mineral extraction, the electrical wires comes from copper, cars’ fuel is the oil that has been extracted, so mineral extraction is important or otherwise we would be living in caves,” said Thinley Palden.] We have only one electrical wire manaufacturer in the country and I know their copper is mainly imported from Korea. And we all know that the fuel we use in our cars comes not from Bhutanese mines but from India. So I don’t understand whether the BCCI VP is justifying mining business in Bhutan or in other parts of the world.

  2. What is the point of this article exactly??

  3. I think he dosent seem to understand how to answer ? I think the question was meant to be from Bhutan’s perspective not on why the world is in mining business ? I think no use of asking question to both President and VP because they are the biggest bebeficiaries and after all why they should care ? Keep on drilling and sucking unitl all is sucked……….

  4. I for one is never in favor of mining in Bhutan. It is not only against our religion where we believe all mountains, lakes and forest are the abode of the Gods where they have hidden treasures for the benefit of all future sentient beings, particularly we buddhist. However, it is very sad that licenses are issued indiscriminately to exploit the natural resources in the name of development. If one weigh the cost and the benefits from these exploitation, it is 100 percent negative balance economically, socially and spiritually to the Bhutanese. The major beneficiaries from these exploitations are the marwaries and beharies from across the border who has no mercy on our environment whatsoever then to maximise their profit with the help of few greedy bhutanese which they can easily lure with some commission which would amount to almost nothing from their turnover.
    With the above example, I would think apart from few quaries for domestic purpose, all mining should be stopped completely until we have our own technical expertise to gauge the pros and the cons.

  5. Good money in mining and you don’t need to be a good business man. Invest 2 crores with family connections and than get back 20-30 lakhs a month return and  return on investment (ROI) is covered within 6-8 months. Yangphel is a good business model for future Bhutanese companies as they don’t rely on “marwari” style or do business through nepotism. When competition heats up in the future lot of these old school business such as Tashi and Singye should decline. They are not good for the Bhutanese economy as profits are sucked out by their partners/workers/co-owners. We should encourage our Bhutanese people to buy genuine Bhutanese companies and that will be a patriotic act on its own. 

  6. Now i am sure TL can uncover some hanky panky in how the many mines have been allotted, especially the Samdrup Jongkhar coal mines, but will he do it, of course not because the hanky panky trail would not lead to the PMs door.

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