In 1999 more than 1000 researchers divided into 24 separate regiments and fanned out across the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, geologically mapping an area the size of California, Texas and Montana for the first time ever. Their findings: 16 major new deposits of copper, iron, lead, zinc and other minerals worth an estimated $128 billion, according to articles published last week on the website of the China Tibet Information Center, a government-run portal.
“Lack of resources has been a bottleneck for the economy,” Meng Xianlai, director of the China Geological Survey, said in the statements. The discoveries in Tibet are prompting China to re-evaluate its potential domestic resources, and “will alleviate the mounting resources pressure China is facing.”
In fact, if proven, the new reserves make Tibet one of the richest regions in China’s territory and could shift the country’s reliance on imports of copper and iron altogether, affecting international commodity markets way beyond China. [Full text]
– See also a report on the new resource discoveries from China Daily.