Xinhua News Agency reports that the local authorities of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region are set to ban the mining of gold, mercury, arsenic and peat to preserve mineral resources and protect the environment. “Mercury and arsenic mining can pollute water supplies, peat mining can destroy wetlands and gold mining can ruin grasslands and rivers,” Wang Baosheng, director of the Land and Resources Department of the Tibet Autonomous Region, told Xinhua. The region is drawing up a new plan to protect mineral resources following the opening of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, Wang said. “Although Tibet boasts rich resources of arsenic and gold, we will still ban the exploitation of these resources for the sake of environmental protection.” Known by many as ‘Asia’s Water Tower’, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau has abundant resources of water, wetlands and grasslands. In Tibet, 38 nature reserves have been established encompassing an area of 408,300 km2, accounting for 34% of the region’s total land area.