Massive Exploitation of Mineral Resources Caused Mining Disaster in Tibet: CTA report


April 10, 2013 3:48 pm

A mining camp at Gyama valley near Tibet’s capital Lhasa. (Photo/ High Peaks Pure Earth)

DHARAMSHALA: The environmental researchers of the Central Tibetan Administration based in Dharamsala has conducted a detailed probe into China’s mining activities in Tibet, concluding that large-scale exploitation of mineral resources caused the recent mining disaster near Tibet’s capital Lhasa.

Below is the full text of the report:

ASSESSMENT REPORT OF THE RECENT LANDSLIDE EVENT IN THE GYAMA VALLEY

1. Introduction

On Friday, 29 March 2013, Chinese state media reported that 83 miners including two Tibetans have been buried after a major landslide hit part of the Gyama (Ch:Jiama) Copper Polymetallic Mine at 6.00 AM local time. As of 4 April, 66 miners have been confirmed dead and 17 are reported missing, believed dead. The workers were reportedly asleep in their tents when they were buried by a mass of mud, rocks and debris, three kilometres wide and 30 metres deep. The landslide occurred in the Pulang Valley in Siphug Village of Tashi Gang Town of Central Tibet.

Tibet’s rich mineral deposits have become a resource curse for the local residents and ecosystem. Since the late ’60s, these mineral deposits have been exploited in various scales, mostly under poor environmental norms and regulations. As for the minerals extracted, copper, chromium, gold, lead, iron and zinc are the minerals of greatest interest to Chinese and other foreign miners operating in Tibet. These are being mined to different extents at various locations throughout the Tibetan Plateau. Now with a strong policy backing from Beijing designating mining in Tibet as one of Beijing’s “Four Pillar” industries, Tibet’s holy landscapes, lakes and the pristine rivers will face more destruction, pollution and most of all the local residents will have no option but to silently witness the ecocide of the Tibetan Plateau.

In a show of concern, President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli have  instructed officials to “spare no efforts” to rescue workers. This is indeed a very sad and unfortunate incident. However, Chinese government must also “spare no efforts” to figure out the real cause of this tragedy, through sincere and transparent investigation by putting aside political and social sensitivity of the issue. The Environment and Development Desk (DIIR) of Central Tibetan Administration suspects that this tragic incident could be a result of the aggressive expansion and large-scale exploitation of mineral in the Gyama Valley – a man-made phenomenon rather than merely a “natural disaster”. Read Full Report