Picture Courtesy: Druk Satair

Mineral Development Policy expected to be finalized after 8 years of waiting

The Mineral Development Policy (MDP), which was proposed almost eight years ago, might finally be approved this year.

The MDP will integrate the overall strategy for development and sustainable growth of the mineral based industry by efficient regulation and management and also restrict over exploitation of the natural resources.

The Policy will facilitate the mining sector to curb the challenges faced today regarding essential resource constraints, impacts on the environment, and stress on value addition policy.

Officials of the Department of Geology and Mines (DGM) said that it wasn’t lack of government support that prevented the policy from getting finalised. The policy was to be approved last year but the government first decided to review and approve the Economic Development Policy (EDP) since some of the provisions of Mineral Development Policy are included in the Economic Development Policy.

Officials said that the draft MDP has been rephrased and reviewed to make it in line with the international best practices. The World Bank also provided technical support.

The policy was to be finalised this month, but most of the officials and the minister were busy and are not in the capital. It is expected to be approved by the next month.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Economic Affairs Lyonpo Lekey Dorji said that minerals have been seen to aggravate inequalities Bhutan. He said the MoEA is finalizing Mines and Minerals Management Act revision and Mineral Development Policy to bring predictability and enhancement in allocation of mines and minerals in the country, and thereby spread the benefits of the national wealth to all citizens. He said the government has already increased the royalty charges and mineral rents since June 2016 despite resistance to it.

A research carried out by the Anti-Corruption commission with a team from Audencia Nantes School of Management, France, and Royal Institute of Management and Department of Geology and Mines, on the mining industry in Bhutan pointed out that without a proper policy the sector is plagued with weak governance and corruption. It also stated that providing stronger legislative support would result in better returns for the country.

As of 2015 there were 48 mines and quarries that were operational in the country of which 22 were mineral quarries and 26 were stone quarries. The study also found out that although mining is one of the fastest growing industries in the country, the sector has been facing serious corruption issues which hampered revenues. Mining contributes 3 percent to our country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) inclusive of only the direct revenues.

Some of the vital minerals found in the country are limestone, gypsum, coal, talc, gypsum, quartzite, granite, marble, dolomite, gypsum, iron ore and metallic minerals like tungsten, lead-zinc and copper.

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