The Chinese Government has reportedly commenced ‘large-scale’ mining operations in Lhunze county, close to its border with the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
The activities in the region are said to be part of China’s long-term plans to reclaim South Tibet, reported the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
Currently, the disputed South Tibet region is under Indian control. Supplies of gold, silver and other precious minerals found in the region are estimated to be worth $60bn.
The SCMP report stated that government’s attempts to tap the mining potential in the area could lead to unrest between the two nations.
The Lhunze county, which is also home to rare minerals used to make hi-tech products, has now developed into a booming mining centre, supported by Chinese investment in creating infrastructure.
The SCMP reports that: “Enormous, deep tunnels have been dug into the mountains along the military confrontation line, allowing thousands of tonnes of ore to be loaded and transported out by trucks daily, along roads built through every village.
“Extensive power lines and communication networks have been established, while construction is under way on an airport that can handle passenger jets.”
The abundance of magma and hot springs in the region has been attributed as a key factor for the formation of the mineral deposits.
However, difficult geographic conditions and concerns related to environmental damage have prevented large-scale mining operations in the area.