The government yesterday received USD 300,000 in grant from the Work Bank-led Extractives Global Programmatic Support (EGPS) multi-donor trust fund to support reforms in the mining sector.

The grant will also assist the Department of Geology and Mines (DGM) in implementing the Mineral Development Policy 2017.

The Supporting Minerals Management Policy Reform project will help revise the Mines and Minerals Management Regulations 2002, access international best practices on mines allocation, and strategic minerals and mineral pricing.

The grant will also support advocacy programmes for the implementation of the Mineral Development Policy, build technical capacity within the mineral development division, and enhance information system and compliance monitoring.

Finance minister Namgay Dorji said the mining sector is one of the five jewels of the economy. The sector currently accounts for three percent of  the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

“This grant will provide support to the ongoing sector reforms and help in accelerating development of the mining sector,” he said.

Economic affairs secretary, Dasho Yeshey Wangdi said that the grant was timely as the ministry was looking towards bringing major reforms in the mineral sector to curb many of the issues faced in the past.

“Our aim is to have a stronger and vibrant mineral sector to manage the country’s mineral resources for maximum benefit to the nation and the people,” he said.

The EGPS grant is part of the World Bank’s continued support to the mining sector in Bhutan.

Previously, the bank provided technical assistance to develop the Mineral Development Policy and the draft Mines and Minerals Management Bill.

Resident Representative of World Bank for Bhutan, Yoichiro Ishihara said the Bank’s technical assistance would support initiating reforms in the mineral sector that will benefit multiple stakeholders.

“It will help improve the business environment and increase both private sector investments and mining operations which will contribute to economic growth and create jobs,” he said.

The cabinet approved the draft Mineral development policy in May last year after numerous revisions over eight years.

The policy helped in making institutional arrangements and is expected to address issues of corruption, mismanagement and weak governance that the Anti-Corruption Commission and Royal Audit Authority pointed out in their previous reports.

The policy spells that prospecting and exploration rights to private sector are not given outright but only if it is aligned with the environmental and government perspective giving DGM the responsibility of overall resource management.

The policy is expected to trigger reforms through adoption of revision of the mines and mineral management Act, regulations, framework, socio-economic development and stringent environmental protection regime and regulations.

Tshering Palden