Tibetans Protest Against Pollution from Mining

Local people protesting against the mine
Local people protesting against the mine

9th May 2016

Local authorities deploy police; later agree to suspend mining operations

Tibetans have carried out protests against environmental damage caused by a mining company operating in Kardze, eastern Tibet. The mining operation, carried out by the company Ganzizhou Rongda Lithium, took place in Lhagang Township in Kardze’s Dartsedo County and resulted in chemicals being leaked, polluting water and killing animals.

The discharge of these chemicals, used by Ganzizhou Rongda Lithium in its mining work, resulted in many fish dying from the poisoned water. Locals even complained that the bodies of dead cows had been seen floating in the rivers as a result of the discharge.

The chemicals entered the water through the source of the Lichu river, a 300km long stretch of water that runs from mountains at 4000 metres above sea level and ends up in land used by farmers and nomads in Dartsedo County.

RESOLUTION IN PROCESS?

On 5 May 2016, local Tibetans peacefully appealed to local authorities in Dartsedo, calling on them to protect the environment and their health. Local authorities from Dartsedo County responded by sending armed police into the area. The situation became very tense as the armed police surrounded the Tibetan protesters.

The following day, 6 May, the local government issued an official document stating that mining activities could not be resumed until an agreement was reached between locals and the mining company. 

In a short piece written in Chinese and circulating in social media, locals said that this was the second time that Ganzizhou Rongda Lithium’s mining operations had polluted the Lichu river. As well as being important for farmers and nomads, the piece says, the area is also well-renowned among locals for its scenic beauty.

Dead Fish, Mining Protest, Tibet
Police at anti-mining protest - Tibet

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