Beijing, May 21 (KMS): China has begun large-scale mining operations on its side of the border with Arunachal Pradesh where a huge trove of gold, silver and other precious minerals valued at about $60 billion has been found, a media report said.

The mine project is being undertaken in Lhunze county under Chinese control adjacent to the Indian border, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet. Projecting the mining operations as part of China’s move to take over Arunachal Pradesh, the report added.

The unprecedented heavy investment by the Chinese government to build roads and other infrastructure in the area has made travel easy. Most of the precious minerals which include rare earths used to make hi-tech products are hidden under Lhunze county, the report said. By the end of last year, the scale of mining activity in Lhunze had surpassed that of all other areas in Tibet, it said. People have poured into the area so fast that even local government officials could not provide a precise count for the current population, it said.

“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,” it said. Extensive power lines and communication networks have been established, while construction is under way on an airport that can handle passenger jets, it said.

Zheng Youye, a professor at the China University of Geosciences in Beijing and the lead scientist for a Beijing-funded northern Himalayan minerals survey, confirmed to the Post that a series of discoveries in recent years put the potential value of ores under Lhunze and the nearby area at 370 billion yuan ($58 billion). “This is just a preliminary estimate. More surveys are under way,” he said.


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