Mineral resources and their economic significance in national development: Bangladesh perspective
Afia Akhtar, 2005. "Mineral resources and their economic significance in national development: Bangladesh perspective", Sustainable Minerals Operations in the Developing World, B. R. Marker, M. G. Petterson, F. McEvoy, M. H. Stephenson
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Modern urbanization, industrialization, transportation and communication systems are the achievements of worldwide sustainable mineral resource development and their proper utilization in various sectors. Sustainable mineral resources have played, and are still playing, a vital role in shaping the modern civilized industrial world. This means that the sustainable socio-economic infrastructure of any country is an indication of its richness in natural resources, its technological know how, its ability to explore and exploit mineral resources, and, finally, its wisdom in utilizing those resources properly in the development activities of the nation. In development activities, countries of the developing world are generally far behind compared with countries in the developed world. This is mainly due to a lack of adequate natural resources, properly educated human resources and good socio-economic conditions. Although Bangladesh is a small country, it has a number of mineral resources such as natural gas, oil, coal, hard rock, limestone, white clay, glass sand and mineral sand. At present, natural gas is the only mineral commodity significantly contributing to the national economy. More than 90% of the country’s energy needs are met by gas, total reserves of which are 21.35 trillion cubic feet (TCF) and 12.43 TCF, respectively. Huge reserves of hard rock (granodiorite, quartzdiorite, gneiss) and coal in northwest Bangladesh will help, in the near future, to meet the growing demand for construction materials and energy for the ever-growing population. Total coal reserves are 1753 million tons (MT), the market value of which is more than US$110 billion. Hard rock reserves are 115 million tons, valued at over US$3 billion. Fully fledged extraction of these resources would help to alleviate the country’s poverty through industrialization. It is expected that coal will soon be extracted on a commercial basis, of which 70 to 80% will be used in power generation. The mineral resources so far found in Bangladesh are meagre in comparison to its high population. To meet the growing demand of the population, more mineral resources need to be discovered and developed, otherwise sustainable development cannot be achieved. However, it is difficult for developing countries like Bangladesh to carry out the necessary activities for exploration and exploitation of hidden mineral resources without foreign assistance. This is a major drawback for Bangladesh. To progress towards an endurable sustainable society, a nation such as Bangladesh must give priority to the development of its existing mineral resources, which can play a major role in helping to reshape the country’s socio-economic infrastructure.
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Sustainable Minerals Operations in the Developing World
The sustainable development of minerals, which are non-renewable resources, is a major challenge in today’s world. In this regard the true definition of sustainability’ is a debating point in itself: can such a concept exist with respect to non-renewable resources? Perhaps the ideal sustainability model is one that minimizes negative environmental impact and maximizes benefits to society, the economy and regional/national development. Developed and near-developed economies rely for commodity supplies on developing countries where major mining operations are often a mainstay of the domestic economy. Limited environmental regulation and low wages lead to charges of exploitation. Also, large numbers of people have no alternative to living by informal, often dangerous, ‘artisanal’ mining. This Special Publication gives examples from developing countries at all scales of mineral extraction. The volume reviews environmental, economic, health and social problems and highlights the need to solve these before sustainability can be achieved. The better solutions require mutual understanding, through full involvement of all stakeholders, education, training and investment so that small-scale ansd artisinal mines can grow into well-managed operations. At larger scales, most major interantional mining companies have now inoproved their practices and are monitoring their progress, although there is no room for complacency in this rapidly changing area.