Chinese mine in Lhundup near Lhasa, Tibet.
DHARAMSHALA, January 21: A major Chinese mining project in central Tibet has forced the eviction of hundreds of Tibetans from their ancestral lands and caused severe damage to the environment, leading to livestock deaths and decline in farm yield.
According to sources, around 400 families of Dhun village in Lhundup, near the Tibetan capital city of Lhasa were forcibly removed by Chinese authorities to make way for the mining project, work on which began in 2005.
Over the years, the mining plant has adversely effected the environment in the region, polluting water sources, minimising grassland, and reducing farm yield.
According to locals, the mine’s untreated waste which has been dumped into the river and the destruction of grassland have caused the death of livestock.
Although local Tibetans have repeatedly expressed their concerns at various levels, Chinese authorities have paid no heed to their appeals and instead labelled their efforts as politically motivated.
There is very little information on the types of minerals that are being extracted from the Chinese owned mines, although some speculate that white gold could be a major resource. According to sources, only three Tibetans work at the mining project as compared to the nearly ten thousand Chinese labourers employed. Locals have reported citing as many as ten trucks plying out of the mining site each day.
“According to some studies, this region lies in a north-dipping thrust fault and has deposits of Zinc (Zn), Lead (Pb), Copper (Cu) and Gold (Au) formed in stratiform orebody,” Tsering Dhundup, a researcher at the Environment and Development Desk of the Dharamshala based Central Tibetan Administration told Phayul.
In September 2011, China announced plans to spend 300 billion yuan (US$46.89 billion) on 226 key projects ranging from railway and dam building to mining and promoting tourism in Tibet within the next five years.
According to China’s official statistics, the Tibetan plateau has China's largest chromium and copper reserves with most of its rich iron, gold, silver, potassium, oil, and natural gas reserves unexploited.
Tibetans have long argued that China’s grand projects in Tibet are planned and implemented without consultation, consent, and knowledge of the local Tibetans.
The Dharamshala based Central Tibetan Administration maintains that Beijing, “under the guise of economic and social development, encourages the migration of Chinese population to Tibet, marginalising the Tibetans in economic, educational, political and social spheres.”Article updated on January 22, 2013 at 12:16 IST