Best data on Tibet's mineral and petroleum deposits

Monday, July 23, 2012

We are pleased to release an updated map and a set of databases on Tibet’s mineral and petroleum deposits. This set of data is the most complete and accurate information that is publicly available on this topic.

In 2011, the Tibetan Plateau blog released a preliminary map and databases of Tibet’s minerals, salt lakes and petroleum deposits. Though incomplete, we felt we should release it then because it was more accurate and complete than other maps and lists available at that time.


Today, we are releasing the updated map above (which can also be downloaded here) and four accompanying databases. The four databases are Mineral, Salt Lake, Petroleum, and Unidentified Prospects and Mines. In the current version, we have included coal mines, oil-sand deposits, and several other mineral deposit sites that failed to make onto the preliminary map and databases.

The Minerals database contains a list of 192 mineral deposit/mining sites, out of which 147 have been mapped. The Salt Lakes database contains a list of 24 sites listed with all but two mapped. The Petroleum Deposits database contains 38 sites, out of which 35 have been mapped. Readers are encouraged to check these sites on Google Earth with the help of latitude-longitude coordinates provided in the databases.

Most of the prospects and mines listed in the database are verified with Google Earth, with an additional 58 identified visually in Google Earth but are not currently confidently linked to a documented deposit. Readers’ assistance in identifying these sites would be highly appreciated.

Information provided in the databases includes latitude-longitude coordinates, status of development, products, size of project/mine, validity, county, prefecture, and references for more information. All development projects are listed with their Pinyin names. The main cities and geographical features on the map are shown with Tibetan names.

The finalized databases have two format changes from the preliminary release. First, all references are embedded within the deposit lists. Second, ownership information has been removed to a separate database which may be cross-referenced by deposit name.

In addition to the Areas of Interest mentioned in the preliminary introduction to the dataset, the following should be noted. In northeast Qinghai (A-mdo), a number of coal mines are operating that are visible in Google Earth, are currently awaiting formal identification. Coal may also be being mined in the Tsaidam Basin. Also of significance are the oil-sands deposits currently under exploration in the Tsaidam Basin, Jhangthang and the Lunpola Basin (thang nyog thang) in TAR.

Exploration in the southwest edge of the Tsaidam Basin has resulted in the discovery of a number of significant deposits of base metals (Galinge, etc.). On the basin’s southeast edge two large gold deposits, Gouli and Guloulongwa (near Panchen Shingde), are being explored. In both cases, the deposits were located by the use of modern regional geological survey techniques.

The Songpan-Ganze Mobile Belt is an area of particular concern, with very little detailed data beyond the Dachang gold deposit documentation. In Qinghai, the belt passes through both the Hoh Xil Nature Reserve and the Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve (SNNR). Hoh Xil is protected against resource extraction, yet is currently host to heavy equipment brought in by illegal miners, and exploration crews from the government geological survey.


The SNNR has already had its boundaries adjusted to accommodate mineral exploration and mining near Dachang. These territorial boundaries directly affect the controversial campaign of resettling Tibetan nomads. Tibetans who protest against or post information about these projects are often put behind bars, as demonstrated by Gangnyi, a Tibetan environmental photographer.

Mining is posed to become ever more important in Tibet, as written about by China Daily here and by Gabriel Lafitte in the China Dialogue site. The Tibetan Plateau blog has also written on this subject.

To learn more or to participate in political action, please visit Stop Mining Tibet and International Tibet Network websites.

1 comment:

Tibet Treks said...

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