Some mining companies had been eagerly awaiting the auction of the Chunaikhola Dolomite Mine and Khothakpa Gypsum Mine and there was much controversy over what would happen to these mines, with it also being a sub text in the Parliamentary discussions on the Mines and Minerals Bill 2020.
However, the government has decided to hand over these mines to SMCL on lease for 15 years. While there are question marks in the operation of the Gypsum mines and the pricing the SMCL has got the around double the price of Dolomite than Jigme Mining.
A release said the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the “Long term lease of Khothakpa Gypsum Mine and the Chunaikhola Dolomite Mine” was signed on April 18, 2022 by the Secretary of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Mr. Karma Tshering and Dasho Karma Yezer Raydi, Chief Executive Officer, Druk Holding and Investments Limited.
Officials from the Department of Geology and Mines attended the signing ceremony.
The MoU concerns the lease of Khothakpa Gypsum Mine located at Khothakpa under Shumar Gewog, Pemagatshel Dzongkhag, and the Chunaikhola Dolomite Mine located at Nyoenpaling under Phuntshopelri Gewog, Samtse Dzongkhag which are currently being operated on an interim lease by the State Mining Corporation Limited (SMCL).
The Mining Lease Agreement will be signed between the Department of Geology and Mines and the SMCL leasing these mines for 15 years lease period.
During the lease period, the SMCL shall pay License Fees of Nu. 3 billion (Nu. 200 million per annum) for Chunaikhola Dolomite Mine and Nu. 1.125 billion (Nu. 75.00 million per annum) for Khothakpa Gypsum Mine to the Royal Government.
The MoU is expected to promote socially responsible and environment friendly sustainable mining while contributing huge revenue to the State. Further, the MoU has the provision for other areas of cooperation for future development of the minerals and the sector with clear roles and responsibilities of the parties.
The decision to lease these mines to SMCL is based on Section 10 of the Mines and Minerals Management Act of Bhutan 1995 and Sections 27(1) and 28 of the Mines and Minerals Management Regulations 2022.