Here is a set of data on mining in Tibet that hopefully will be useful to some of the readers. This data is the most comprehensive and up-to-date publicly available information on the topic. If you have any additions and corrections to suggest, please let us know.
Also, see some recent Google Earth images (taken September 2010) at the bottom of this blog post for evidence of extensive mining exploration being conducted within the Three Rivers Headwaters Nature Reserve area, specifically near Chumarleb or Dachang Mines.
First, a map of Mining in Tibet.
Here are three spreadsheets with details on the information provided on this map and more, including information sources that you may refer to yourself.
First, a spreadsheet on Mining in Tibet.
Second, on Mining Tibet's Salt Lakes.
And third, on Mining for Petroleum in Tibet.
Now, let's move on to recent Google Earth images that clearly show mineral prospecting trenches (straight lines) in and around Chumarleb (ཆུ་དམར་ལེབ་) county. There are a lot of information on these mines online if you do a search on "Dachang mine". All the images below have latitude and longitude coordinates at the bottom if you want to check for more surprises.
First a larger regional image. Notice that the area is close to the two famous lakes, Kyareng (མཚོ་སྐྱ་རེངས་) and Ngoreng (མཚོ་སྔོ་རེངས་), situated at source of Machu (མ་ཆུ་ / Yellow) River. On the opposite corner are a bunch of orange and blue dots stacked on top of each other. These colored dots, and I believe the trenches as well, are the works of Inter-Citic, a "Canadian public company."
Now a closeup of the trenches. Trenches are dug in straight lines so their findings can be uploaded into the database. After digging the trenches, they also drill into the ground to see what's deeper inside. Computers then estimate what's (how much gold, for example) in between the points.
Here are two images that prove recent drilling activity in these trenches. The first one taken on August 8, 2010 shows the trench (ignore the yellow pin "Drill" marker. The second image below, which was taken a month after that (September 7, 2010), show machines, a shed and a vehicle, indicating active drilling activity.
The trenches can be seen as far as 50 km SE of the main mining sites, just near the Kyareng Lake.
You can also see the main camp of the miners, most probably of Inter-Citic.
There is also some interest whether there is "rare earth" in Tibet. So far we didn't find any rare earth mines in Tibet, although there are four mines in Southeast Sichuan Province. Here are two scientific papers with maps that describe rare earth elements in Tibet.
Hou, Z. & Cook, N.J. (2009). Mettalogenesis of the Tibetan collisional orogen: A review and introduction to the special issue. Ore Geology Reviews, 36 (2009) 2-24.
Hou, Z., Tian, S., Xie, Y., Yang, Z., Yuan, Z, Yin, S., Yi, L. Fei, H., Zou, T., Bai, G., & Li, X. (2009). The Himalayan Mianning-Dechang REE belt associated with carbonatite-alkaline complexes, eastern Ind0-Asian collision zone, SW China. Ore Geology Reviews, 36 (2009) 65-89.
If any of you have information about exploration of rare earth elements in Tibet, please let us know.