Via Quartz and the Tibetan Plateau Blog
From copper to iron to oil, China is the world’s leading importer of almost every raw mineral. Wary of the risks this dependence brings, Beijing is looking ever inward to exploit the mineral wealth of its interior, including the politically contentious and technically challenging Tibetan Plateau. The most recent development is a 7-kilometer deep borehole drilled by Chinese resource exploration teams. The exact location of the borehole, the deepest ever drilled at such a high altitude, as well as the companies involved in the exploration are being kept secret.
The Plateau is estimated to contain 30-40 million tons of copper, 40 million tons of lead and zinc, and billions of tons of high-grade iron ore—it is also estimated that the Plateau’s Qiangtang Basin contains upwards of 70 billion barrels of oil, potentially making it the largest such reserve on the planet. If these estimates are even remotely accurate, the rewards for Beijing will be enormous.
The Tibetan Plateau is the largest and highest plateau on Earth, with an average elevation of more than 4,500 meters above sea level. Mineral extraction faces a series of technical roadblocks if Beijing hopes to move these resources from the interior to the coast for refining and consumption.
- - -