Qaidam Basin, in northwest China's Qinghai Province, is expected to have a wide range of industries in the future as a result of a local government plan to tap the rich natural resources in the basin.
Li Pengxin, secretary of the Haixi Prefectural Committee of the Communist Party of China, said that the prefecture would give priority to the development of petrochemical, non-ferrous metal, salt lake chemical and coal industries in Qaidam Basin in the future.
The move aims to help the Qaidam Basin, which is located inside the Haixi Prefecture, to find a way to diversify its industry instead of simply producing crude salt, the official said.
The reserves of salt in Qaidam Basin could supply more than 5 billion people worldwide for 2,000 years.
Planned projects include a potassium fertilizer project in Golmud with a maximum production rate of one million tons annually, a sodium carbonate project in Delingha with an annual output of 600,000 tons and an iron mine in Dulan with a production capacity of 300,000 tons as well as projects to develop local petroleum, natural gas and non-ferrous metals.
With an area of 250,000 sqare km, Qaidam Basin is known as a "treasure basin". It has 57 different types of mineral resources with proven reserves including petroleum, natural gas, coal, crude salt, potassium, magnesium, lead, zinc and gold. These mineral resources have a potential economic value of 15 trillion yuan (US$1.8 trillion). Proven reserves of potassium, lithium and crude salt in the basin are the biggest in China.
The Qaidam Basin borders on the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Gansu Province in northwest China and the Tibet Autonomous Region in southwest China.
Proven oil reserves in the basin total 240 million tons and natural gas resources 300 billion cubic meters.
Some major projects have already made progress. According to Li, the Qinghai Oilfield is now the fourth largest gas field in China, and the Sebei-Xining-Lanzhou gas transmission line, part of the West-East Gas Transmission Project, has been completed and has begun operations. Work has started on a Sino-Australian project to develop local gold resources.
Three companies from China's inland and Taiwan have begun research into the development of lithium resources in the Qaidam Basin. The Taiwan company has poured more than 29 million US dollars into the project.
The Qaidam Basin also is rich in flora resources suitable for making traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine. The Qaidam High-tech Medical Industrial Co., Ltd. registered sales of over 6 million yuan in 2000. The company plans to develop six zones for planting special medicinal materials in the Qaidam Basin and is striving for annual sales of one billion yuan within 10 years.
Li Pengxin says that the local government has intensified infrastructure construction in the Qaidam Basin to attract foreign investors.
(ChinaEnvironment.com July 1, 2002)