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.