While PM warns nation against mines his family members own and apply for multiple mines

Photo Courtesy: www.tpganzin.com
Photo Courtesy: www.tpganzin.com

The Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley in a recent meeting with the private sector in the Bhutan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) hall on 21st march 2013 took a strong and public position against mining.

He said that Mining was going to be strictly controlled and that it has to be shared as it is a national resource.

Lyonchhen said that mines besides causing pollution and health affects needed to be saved for future generations. He said that country’s mineral resources belonged to the people and not to a few individuals.

He said “Common people will get nothing out of this business while a few rich people will make all the money.”  “If we can’t make our mineral resources sustainable, then we are not living in a GNH country,” he added.

However, The Bhutanese has found that contrary to his publicly stated position Lyonchhen’s own family members operate and have also applied for multiple mines.

Under his governments tenure two mines have already been approved to his relatives and in laws while another is in the final stages of being approved with all necessary government clearances already being issued. Several more mines have also been applied for.

The Bhutanese has found that the Prime Ministers son-in-law Kezang Wangchuk married to his daughter has applied for a 40 acre stone quarry in Adagangchu in Wangdi Phodrang under Dangchu Gewog which is estimated to be close to the hydropower sites there.

The mine was applied for in 2009/2010 and has received all neceassry government approvals from Dzongkhag land Leasing Committee, Forest Department, and National Land Commission and is in the final stages. It has been put for a final approval in the National Environment Commission where the Chairman is the Prime Minister.

After approval from NEC, Department of Geology and Mines (DGM) will lease the stone quarry for a period of 10 years which can be further extended later.

Recently in January 2013 the DGM under the Ministry of Economic Affairs approved a 36.30 acre quartzite captive mine for the Bhutan Ferro Industries Limited owned by one Aum Damcho Dem who is the sister of the Prime Minister’s wife.

Towards the end of 2011 the DGM approved a 25.36 acres stone quarry for Kunley Wangchuk the owner of Riverview hotel and the father of the Prime Minister’s son-in-law.

The stone quarry is already in production and as of December 2012 was generating around 100 truckloads a month.

In 2010 the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Department of Geology and Mines approved an Indian Foreign Direct Investment in a major captive Gypsum mine in Pemagatshel now called Druk Presidency. The mine is owned by Aum Shekha Choden who is closely related to the Prime Minister’s wife. The mine supplies a Plaster of  Paris factory in Bhutan. The mine was in operation from around 1993.

It is also learnt that the Prime Ministers in laws who also own the Riverview Hotel have since 2010 applied for at least seven sites for limestone mines in Zhemgang. Of the seven two have shown to have potential to develop into limestone mineral mines after the DGM did a feasibility study.

Legally none of the above mines have violated the laws but all of them have been applied for, operationalized or expanded under the tenure of this government.

The approval and application for these mines can also happen only through the oversight or cooperation of government agencies like DGM, Dzongkhag, NEC, Forest Department and the National Land Commission.

Despite several attempts to contact the Prime Minister which included an email to his personal email address, contacting the Prime Ministers media team and several calls since Friday afternoon the Prime Minister was not available for comments.


Tenzing Lamsang / Thimphu


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  1. Mr. PM, I hope that the above story is not true. You have time and again placed your family’s interest above the national interest against what you preach all the time. You have lost all credibility to contest for up coming election…..May be its time for you to remind yourself that the up coming election will not be the same as the last election……

  2. do what i say but don’t do what i do….bullocks …the preacher of GNH if it is true

  3. It is disgusting news..if it is really true. Is Bhutan and majority poor citizen becoming jokers in the hands of our political leaders ? Is it becoming COPY and PASTE democracy of our neighboring countries ?
    I pray to almighty.. save Bhutan from dirty politic..Save Bhutan from becoming like Sikkim and Nepal and Save majority poor Bhutanese becoming victims of dirty politic and high level corruption Drama.

  4. Dear Lamzang,
    Your news looks like present government has issued mining  license only to his relatives and not others.If you have journalist ethics, why can’t you also highlight how many license have been issued in present government term and who are their  relatives. Also highlight how many licenses have have been issued to relatives and chairman of BCCI.If you do that, it is fair view otherwise you are trying malign  someone using public domain.

    • Ligpa u want name and link as relative? Okay, Aum Shekha Choden who is closely related to the Prime Minister’s wife does not have any children and had adopted JYT’s daughter as her daughter. So in this case not only is Aum Sheka closely related to PM’s wife but she is also the adopted mother of PM’s daughter. PM hopes that the mine given to Aum Sheka will go to his daughter.

      • Hi tatogpa,
        I have high regard to theBhutanese for bringing issue of national interest. However, I have seen  this paper  bringing only one sided news.If this paper can bring the list of mine license holder in present govt term as well as their relation to their high profile people, we public can rely in credibility and reliability of this news. Otherwise, i personally feel there is some hidden agenda in it.Therefore, tatogpa open mind and give a unbiased opinion. 

    • lingpa, we cannot compare our PM with others because he is the leader. Above all he is a preacher of GNH and moral values! That makes us even wild for his hypocritical actions. Is he telling lie? Is he fooling Bhutanese? if he is right why no action lamzang. anyway truth hurts.

  5. Why does Tenzing Lamsang, the tool not promote nationalizing of the mines, that way, the PM and his relatives will all suffer. And we as a nation will gain, come on go for it!

  6. Mr. Lamsang, I don’t know how you have access to such a information on so called a high profile people but it definitely will be an eye opener for the people of Bhutan who had high regard and had elected to power in 2008 with overwhelming majority.
    But now starting with Gyelposhing Land scam to the mining, i am wondering what has happened and is happening in Bhutan.
    Are we heading to a disaster?

  7. My God, this PM has the guts to speak against his own reality. I think it is high time for the super power to intervene and take necessary actions. Please save Bhutan.

  8. Yes indeed, the PM always says something and does something else. We hear that he operated a sand quarry in Bajo before the nationalization of sand. It is rumoured, that he made millions. And yet the same guy has the audacity to talk of benefit to the common man. He should practice what he preaches.

  9. A majority of Bhutanese people knows that people associated to PDP have much, much more mining licenses than what is reported about PM’s cases. Almost 70 to 80 percent is in their hands. We are not fools and we can never be fooled. If the media is not balanced, who else can we expect to be balanced? Do we ever find negative issues about other parties in this newspaper? Does it mean that other than DPT leaders, rest are absolutely perfect? When one finger is pointed to dPT, other fingers are pointed to the rest. GNH is all about showing appreciations, not about complains.

    • People associated with PDP did not get their mining license because PDP was in power. They had their license long before democracy came to Bhutan. Whereas after democracy and JYT government only JYT’s family and supporters have got mining license or approval. Not even one person associated with PDP got a mining license after JYT came to power. So mindful, pls be mindful of facts instead of blabbering and coming with your own 70 to 80 percent figure. From where you got this figure? From your back pocket? Do research like Lamzang before making false noise and giving wrong figures.

    • PM is competing with others for mining! Gosh! pl do not compare. he should be clean man la as a leader who is preaching gnh all the time.

  10. PM of bhutan , insatiable human desire.
    everywhere hype of ur corrupted talk.
    any people are not going to vote dpt in the upcoming election.

  11. This time, we shall have clean politicians with humble and clean backgrounds. Lets all be clean and show example to the world.

  12. Agree with Ligpa.. while your article highlights an important issue, we look forward to a fuller picture of the mining story. 

  13. Yes we must get to the bottom of this. All people who have mines should be investigated. We must find out all the illegally gained mines and businesses. We must uproot the corrupt. We shoukd start from the richest people of Bhutan and find out how they got all the mines. In fact why stop there people have gotten licenses illegally. In fact we hear of how people got licenses approved in a matter of days while others worked years. All of this should be investigated. Not only the PM and his family which anyobe can see is just a political move to attack the PM during the elections. In fact the new govt who ever it maybe should have the anti corruption look into all of this and tenzin lamzang you should cover it and get the bhutanese public a front row seat. That will definitely be an interesting read.

  14. oh this DPT and Jigme Yeozer Thinley plus his ministers are really thread to the nation.and i dont know why some one capable person from Sangbeykha Consititucency going to join DPT. he is blindly spoiling his carrier by Joining DPT.

    • Mr. Tenzin Lamsung, you are really a biased reporter. I think you need to learn to sustain yourself without governments aid because not only the DPT government, even other governments won’t support you with this kind of reporting.  
      The good news is you still have a lots to report as DPT is coming to power yet again with the same PM. So all the best.

  15. mr. lamsang, rather than being very selective can you give us the full story. how about mentioning all mining licences acquired in these last five years and existing mining licences that were expanded. if you want to give names then list everyone who have obtained mining licences. relatives of PM are citizens of this country who can do business if they choose like any other business person in bhutan. how can PM control what his relatives and in laws do. 

    hatred never triumphs, i truly hope one day you will become a sincere journalist that will inform the public with the truth and not use print media as a political tool to misguide the people.

  16. without PM, this paper will have no stories to report.

      • What I personally feel is that journalism is about depicting the clear picture and giving the real information to the nation in an unbiased state. We appreciate that TL is bringing such eye opening issues to the forefront but would be appreciated more if comparative study is undertaken and thorough research is done to give public a clear picture on the subject. The nature of the reporting is politically motivated especially at this juncture and TL is biased by not reporting on both the sides.

  17. Haha, I feel sorry for all the buffoons who are attacking the PM, while this is happening, others with much more stake in the mining Industry are laughing all the way to the bank. I don’t want to mention names and companies, but come on, we will be kidding ourselves if we pretended that only PMs relatives are involved.

  18. Mr. Lamzang/Anti DPT……you always write bad about DPT and PM…….but rememba its just u and the few hundreds behind…..else the people and civil servant are proud of the govt and PM…and they will come back for u may try any thing to stop it.  RESPECT PM! hes PM, Prime Minister of BHUTAN. Unless u show up with evident people an’t gonna believe any of ur daily newspaper with 80% on PM and DPT.  

  19. Kho-thag-pa Khotsa

    I think the author bringing to light all the PM’s shady deeds is a service to the nation. The nation should be indebted to him. Now it is for the OAG, ACC AG to nail this fellow. Shameless fellow this, Anybody in his right mind will hide his face in shame. Is this the example he show to his children? If my father were going to be like him, I would rather be an orphan. The guilty and the hypocrites should be exposed and made to pay before the ordinary citizen loses all hope for justice and accept the fact that the powerful guys are getting away with all sorts of crime.
    Maybe “lay-jumm-drey” will come about when these people’s mines get washed away and their bulldozers go off the road, or their accountants run away with loads of their cash, or if they suffer from high blood pressure and diabetes.
    Finally a curse for these people: May they have a toothache for every ill-gotten Ngultrum!

    • No wonder I saw you in the hospital the other day. Looks like you are going to lose all your teeth. 

    • I was just trying to find out who is the man who have applied and reserved mining areas around remote Chamkharchu Hydroelectricity Project-1, Zhemgang. Must be one of these crooks, greedy and shameless people reflected in this article. These people have reserved the areas even when the project is not yet finalized. I think we should all joined hands to burn their properties and reduced them to ashes. They should walk with mask on their faces.

    • pl dont go to that extent wai.

  20. Very interesting article. The people need to to informed and the truth must prevail. Can TL or any print media produce a list of mines in the country, the name of the owner and income generated. What may be the fact it would bring out the truth. Right now the people are confused with everyone accusing each other. TL has given us some figures but a list of mines and names of people running them from the Dept of Geology and mines would help.

    • yes truth must be told even if it hurts. in fact all of us who support democracy should applaud his courage to stand up for the truth. Who does that in Bhutan. Nil! very few? No media does that!

  21. TL, you sure don’t like the word “TOOL” it seems, any particular reason or is it because it describes you perfectly.

  22. what a shit newpaper

  23. When it comes to telling the truth, Tenzing Lamsang has more credibility than JYT. JYT said “using highly offensive terms such as scam and land grab, and abusing the tolerance of the government, one journalist, acting as prosecutor, judge and jury, has fabricated the ‘Gyalpoizhing case’ to malign the government.”
    What has been reported by “one journalist” on Gyalpozhing land scam has been endorsed by ACC and Mongar district court and more importantly by public opinion. So who is really fabricating, TL or JYT.

  24. what ever we say or do, by hook or crooks, JYT will come back.., may be margin will be less but he will continue lootings for next many many years. Its Cancer for Bhutan. They can rename DPT as Bhutan Cancer party.

    • We are dying with regrets…..What da hell we did by voting this dirty JYT….Nw nomore pl JYT….We hate u as much s ghost…U will soon become the father of Corruption in Bhutan…

  25. ROSY
    We want you to join DPT. You seem very dynamic and intelligent. You could rename the party in just a minute. You could be offered Minister’s portfolio. Go and register now from Devil’s Constituency.

    • “Devils Constituency” you mean those 45 constituencies from where DPT won.???

      • From Nanong shumar where PM snatched a seat from the bonafide candidate. This is also not right. The PM should have kept his census at his home town only. This is very unfair. That is why people read him differently. He is very good at doing things in a way we sometime we are not uncomfortable with. Remember he blamed the only other party as a bad party. He is …….n,,,,,edible 

        • Haha, PMs roots lie in Pema Gathsel, so no problem there. And the only reason he changed his census was to ensure the Lyonpo Sangye won in the Talo constituency, the fact that he did not is the sore point here it seems.

          • His roots are everywhere, but why P/getsel? In fact, JYT knew his chance of winning was much better in P/getsel than in Talo; he knew that it would be easier for him to fool and exploit the innocent backward pemagetselpas than the advanced, economically better-off talops. JYT did not shift his censes because of his true feelings towards the down-trodden people of Nanong and Shumar, but definitey to fulfill his own vested interest and his personal goal. At the end, sadly though, the pemagetselpas turned out to be the real losers.

          • what a load of crap!

          • Dawa, I think you better go and get your head examined, why waste so much time writing nonsense.

  26. Its Media’s responsibilities to curve the Democracy..and to point out the wrong deeds..

  27. We don’t want this corrupted Jigme Y Thinley…Worst of all……
    Country should unite to throw this man…..Hate him for everything 

  28. tenzin lamzang i think u are doing great job more than aum dasho neten does…………dig more and find out. u are the pelden drukpas buu…..i appreciate u man……100% pure in doing the peoples service…….(y)

  29. No those two minor constituencies.
    Mr. BHOTAY must have been scolded badly for not performing in the office. Non-performers have no place in this time of cut throat competitive world.

  30. JYT is corrupt, no doubt about that. PDP is not looking any better. These parties are backed by highly influential people who have no conscience. They are the kind of people who want to get rich (by corrupted means) and loot the country no matter what.

    Our village folks can be easily duped by crooks like JYT, with his rosy words, and power of persuasion. 

    Now the responsibility of putting in a government that has the king, people and the country’s interest at heart is upon us. We have two more months before the elections. In this time, we need to learn as much as possible about the candidates in our constituency. We need to educate and inform our village folks about them.

    Lastly, please choose a MP who you think is capable, has principles, and one who has the courage to stand up and speak against their own party or leader(s) if the latter is found to be making mistakes or indulging in corruption.

    I would like to have one of the parties with women presidents. Women by nature are less arrogant, are more compassionate, take less risks, less corrupted (by a huge margin) than their male counterparts. Bad sadly, I don’t know how capable they are.

    I will never vote for DPT. The MPs in DPT are all followers of their sacred God, JYT. They eat, sleep and dance to JYT’s tune. Forget the younger/lesser known MPs, even JYT’s colleagues namely Ly. Khandu and Zimba seem to be afraid of JYT. It is an irony that there is a dictatorship style leadership in the very political party that is supposed to rule our democratic country.

    JYT has everything; respect, money, power, fame and the people’s vote and trust. He had a very good opportunity to really take our country to new heights. Instead, this guy chose to mess up everything with his arrogance and insatiable hunger for money and power. I feel sad for him. 

    • Is that you lily Wangchuk or Dorji choden? 

    • JYT failed to adapt to the new realities of Bhutan. He is still living in the post 2008 realms where he lived an untouchable aristocratic life. We gave him the opportunity to be the first exemplary democratic leader but he failed terribly in the last 5 years. He failed to serve us to the last minute of his tenure as the first democratically elected leader by serving ones greed by begging Prado for him and his colleagues. If HM felt that they served well, there is no doubt that HM would have given to them without having to beg oneself.

  31. An ordinary citizens aren’t allowed to fish and our rich and powerful are allowed to destroy whole mountain through mining.Just two days back, in order to provide a decent protein rich meal to his two children and wife, a man in Paro goes out for fishing at night,because he cant afford to buy it from his salary.Poor him,he loses his life and never return home.The rich destroy mountains and steal lands,nothing happens.No body notice it.The poor guy did it (just fished) and got killed.Wow what a harsh reality! Life for fish?????I sometime wonder why our rivers are not crowded with thousands varieties of of fishes with the strict and high handed fish conservation policy/rules implemented over several decades!May be all healthy ones migrate to india,get caught there and then imported back. Really confused all the harsh ground realities in the land of GNH.

  32. psuedo engineer

    Come on Lamsang, some objectivity and ethics here. We know you hate his guts and his hypocrisy… but please provide the full story and not cherry pick!

    His family applied for mines not him. As they say, you can choose your friends but not your family.

    On the story on agencies and projects renting flats in Minister’s buildings, sources say Lamsang left out comments from interviewees (tenants) which were not favourable to your angle.

    If you want people, especially those who are getting a bit tired of the personal crusade to take your stories and your reputation seriously, some objectivity and journalistic ethics would be good for balance.

    • What ethics and objectivity do you expect from a paper that was unfairly treated because of its exposure of the government’s follies? I think this paper is unique in its position and fit to openly criticize the government of its wrongdoings which the other papers cannot dare the slightest. News and information are highly censored in other media, and we are always fed with information that our leaders want us to be fed with. 

      I think, this paper is rightfully provoking unethical people to be ethical. 

  33. what ever may be…no body is better than JYT…He is best and lamzang cannot pull his socks even if he try to probe in any manner

  34. samdrup jongkhar

    This article written by Mr. Tenzin Lamzang is an eye opener. I would like to provide a little info, which i know, The PM, or the Ex-PM, family have invested alot in the Eastern Bhutan Coal Company.. I wonder if the the PM knows this fact.. if he does then the meaning of a few rich individuals includes himself… lol

    • Gup Sonam Dukpa owns the mines, so if the PM or the ex MP and his family have invested in the company, what is your problem, why don’t you invest too. I am sure Gup Dukpa will be happy to take your money too. So, please stop writing crap, it will at least make you look less foolish.

  35. well done to Lamsang la. You have set the trend in sluggish, subservient bhutanese media into a critical yet effective and a modern media as in other modernied countries.

    You have single handedly pull the string in making media dynamic and transparent, without which bhutanese people will be continously being fed news which govt and only elite wanted to feed. Your effort and hard work, despite various finger pointing and abuse including cutting off adts to your paper etc to inform, highlight and investigate issue of national interest and public relevant have certainly made both enemies and friends here in the country. However, your service to the nation and tsa wa sum including the young democrasy with a vibrant media will go a long way in our nation’s future and you deserve appreciation, support and red scraf from HisMajesty one day soon!!

    Tashi delek and our support are with you. 

  36.  TL is a person, who researches  and authenticates, his findings before actually putting down on the paper.  This is an eye opener  article for  us. Some of us are stupid, asking  TL to name the list of the miner applicant or relatives or what so ever? First,  in my opinion, it’ s not his job to do so. If he did, what next by us?  For example, author ” Good” has mentioned,  I know many people in mining.   Good as an anonymous author  is yoo afraid to mention the known list.  TL opens our eye and  writes against PM ( the highest elected authoritive  man”) One of the author also mentioned,  ” we can choose our friends but not our relatives,   I totally agree but the chairman of NEC is PM. It is just a matter of one phone call to Dzongkhags, Forests and Land etc etc office, like PM’s phone calls  to the VISA officer for visa issuance to tourist. What happened prior to 2008 is beyond our means and post 2008, all politiians are answerable to the public. This is only the beginning!!!Democracy has just begun!!!

    • Haha, I don’t have to name the people, everyone already knows. What happened prior to 2008 is beyond our control, according to you, then why did this paper make such a big fuss over Gyelpozhing. 

  37. One of the four pillars of GNH is taking care of our environment. True one of the solution to the Rupee Crisis may be to increase our export whether it is through mining and mineral export but surely if the govt’s aim is to decrease the gap between the have and have nots then the country’s mines should not be concentrated in hands of a few rich people or their families. 

    The former MD of NRDCL is in jail for abuse of authority and favoritism how come such practices are still rampant?

    This issue needs to be addressed immediately to avoid many people having to face jail sentences in the future.

    • What GNH when it is standing on shaky pillars? I think almost all the pillars are falling apart bit by bit. 

  38. for the information of all concerned there are different types of mining.
    the real mines in our country which are lucritive are ( dolomite, Gypsum, Coal and Talc)
    the first three i have mentioned is carried out in a bigger scale and the owners of the mine are.
    Dolomite mine at pugli – promoted by Lhaki Group owned and operated by JMCL(jigme mining corp ltd)
    Gypsum Mine at Pemagatshel_- owned and operated by Druk satair corp
    Shadu mandu Talc mine- the only operational Tack mine owned and operated ny Damchen Group.
    Coal Mine At Samdrupjongkhar_ owned and operated by Bhutan Coal.

    and there are other captive mines owned by industries for the purpose of raw material.

    there are numerious stone quarries whish are not considered mining owned and operated by diffrent individuals for serving the construction market.

    this is littile information i have for the attentiion of general public.

  39. 1. We have completely lost faith in Lyonchen, he should not have forced HM to grant JYT and other Ministers for Prados and Land Cruisers.
    2. This manipulations and greed of JYT will have a long terms bearing on his leadership and country’s futures strategic direction, lest people like JYT will abuse the Royal prerogative in the name of kidu/soelra.
    3. May be JYT has been in the system for so long and it is not good for the system. People should think what is the logic in transferring the head of the CEO of the Corporation in every five years and the transfer of civil servants, I guess the reason is not to breed the corrupt practices. JYT has been in the system for so long and he is capable of abusing the system wherever there is grey areas, the classis example is asking kidu for Prados.
    4. Time to resign and relax Lyonchen, or else whatever you had built your credibility will soon be vanishing. Your true colour is being exposed in the form of your greed for wealth and Prados. But we will not forgive you now or in future if you do not return Prados, this makes us really angry and feel sorry for you. You are a wise man and we expect you to correct your mistake and return them. Better be late than never, otherwise action of getting the Prados will remain as a cheap deign of our cheap PM and will lead one upon another as valid reasons to investigate how much wealth you have accumulated over the years in future.

  40. sater – thank u for d info but two wrongs don’t make a right. That’s why PDP got d boot in 2008 n now in 2013 it’s DPT’s turn don’t u think?

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