Chinese state media say geologists have discovered huge mineral reserves in Tibet that will greatly relieve the strain on China's natural resources.
The China Daily newspaper says the mineral reserves were located during a seven-year study of the Tibetan plateau by one thousand scientists from the China Geological Survey.
The paper says the geologists identified 600 potential sites for new mines in Tibet. The sites are estimated to contain 30 to 40 million tons of copper, 40 million tons of lead and zinc, and several billion tons of iron ore.
Iron ore is one of the main raw materials used in producing steel.
The deputy director of the China Geological Survey Zhang Hongtao says more than half of the Tibetan plateau still remains to be surveyed.
He said Tibet's mining industry should be developed gradually to prevent permanent damage to the region's fragile ecosystem.