Huge mineral resources found on Qinghai-Tibet plateau

Updated: 2007-02-13 19:14

BEIJING -- Chinese geologists have discovered more than 600 new sites of copper, iron, lead and zinc ore deposits on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau since 1999, according to the results of the latest geological survey.

Preliminary estimates show the plateau has reserves of 30 million to 40 million tons of copper, 40 million tons of lead and zinc and billions of tons of iron, said Zhang Hongtao, vice director of the China Geological Survey Bureau.

Zhang said geologists have also compiled the country's first Qinghai-Tibet plateau geological map on the scale of 1:250,000 and the plateau's first map of metal and nonmetal deposits on the scale of 1:1.5 million.

Currently 90 percent of China's iron ore deposits are of low grade but geologists have discovered three large high-grade iron ore deposits on the plateau, including the one in Nyixung with reserves of 300 million to 500 million tons.

Large quantities of oil shale resources, which could be turned into oil, were also found on the plateau.

The plateau may have "large or super-large" deposits of hydrocarbon resources, said Zhang, adding that geologists had detected promising reserves of oil and gas in northern Tibet.

"These deposits will fundamentally ease China's shortages of mineral resources", said Zhang.

China will increase its copper concentrate output by 30 percent because the country has started to exploit three of the plateau's copper mines in Qulong, Pulang and Yangla regions, which are predicted to produce 250,000 tons of copper concentrates every year.

The new discovery on the plateau is significant to regional economic development but China will give priority to protection over exploitation of these mineral resources, said Zhang.

The Chinese government only allows large enterprises to develop resources on the plateau and environmental protection must be a priority, said the official.

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